Ranked: ‘The Fast and the Furious’ Films from Worst to Best

Ranked: ‘The Fast and the Furious’ Films from Worst to Best

by Daniel Rester

Over twenty years and eleven movies in (wow!), The Fast and the Furious franchise is still going strong at the box office. The series started with small street racing films but has developed into a huge action series with a large cast, making Universal boatloads of money. With the release of Fast X this week, I decided to update my ranking of the films. Let’s get our engines started. 

11. Fast & Furious  (2009) 

Fast & Furious, the fourth installment and second from director Justin Lin, feels like a forgettable stepping stone sequel in leaving the street racing stuff mostly behind to go on to bigger plans. Yet things weren’t quite there until Fast Five (2011) rolled around. More on that later. This film brought back Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) and their tense relationship after the third film left them behind for Tokyo, but it doesn’t have too much else of interest outside of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) being “killed.” The heroin-running plot is bland and the action here is often dimly lit. The CGI on some of the vehicles has not aged very well either; this is where the franchise started to abandon practical stunts for visual effects, yet things didn’t look very smooth yet. Fast & Furious is still watchable, but it’s kind of a dull spot when marathoning these movies. Grade: C+ 

10. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw  (2019) 

I enjoy the first forty minutes or so of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw from director David Leitch quite a bit, with a cool London street race and fun banter between Hobbs (Dwayne Johson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) in that time. But then things just get dumber and more bombastic as it goes along. For me, the fifth through eighth installments have their share of over-the-top scenes but still maintain a small shred of believability in their heist-and-spy-movie ways. With Hobbs & Shaw, it officially feels like a “jumping the shark” phase in the series as the villain (a hammy Idris Elba) is part machine, Hobbs uses human strength to hold a truck and helicopter together with just a metal chain, and a shop mechanic is able to reenable a scientific device to be able to pull a virus out of a woman’s body. And that’s just a fraction of the stupidity. The film is in on the joke but it thinks it’s funnier than it is, getting too silly for its own good. At least the three leads (Johnson, Statham, and Vanessa Kirby) have great chemistry. Grade: C+ 

9. F9  (2021) 

F9 takes the idiocy and self-awareness of Hobbs & Shaw (2019) and runs with it, but with slightly more enjoyable results despite going too far with the absurdity. John Cena plays Jakob Toretto as the villain in this one, going after a computer-hacking device called Project Aries. He is Dom’s brother who was never mentioned in the previous films despite Dom’s obsession with anything and everything related to family. The Dom-Jakob relationship comes off like a soap opera. The plot also finds time to send Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) into space in a rocket-powered car, and in another scene Dom swings a car with a bridge wire to get across a canyon. All sense of the little logic that was left in the series is out the door with this one (perhaps because usual writer Chris Morgan wasn’t there to rein things in a bit), but it is still laughably entertaining throughout. The magnet cars are awesome too. Grade: B- 

8. Fast X  (2023) 

A slight step up from the previous installment, and slightly less stupid, Fast X greatly benefits from an energetic performance by Jason Momoa. He plays villain Dante, who seeks revenge against Dom and his crew due to events that occurred in Fast Five (2011). The film has a wildly entertaining set piece involving a bomb rolling through Rome. Aside from Momoa and the Rome sequence though, a lot of Fast X feels rote in its plotting and the majority of the hand-to-hand fights feel pointless as they are between people who are on each other’s sides. Director Louis Leterrier handles the ridiculous action well enough, but a lot of scenes are overlit and washed out in look. No cars go to space in this one, thankfully, but Dom does drive a car down the side of an exploding dam and a child character murders bad guys with rockets. Grade: B-  

7. 2 Fast 2 Furious  (2003) 

Moving on without Diesel’s Dom character was a bold choice that 2 Fast 2 Furious made. Other than that, there isn’t much bold going on in the second installment. Even so, this is a solid entry directed by John Singleton that makes colorful use of Miami and introduced us to fun supporting characters Roman and Tej. Gibson and Walker have excellent chemistry that would continue into later films. Cole Hauser is pretty entertaining too as baddie Carter. The action and racing is stylish, though not too much of it is memorable other than the ejector seats and the boat jump. Grade: B

6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift  (2006) 

If any of the movies in the series could be labeled as underrated, it is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. It’s by no means a terrific film, but people like to unfairly beat it up — mostly just because it doesn’t feature fan favorites Diesel or Walker. This was the first entry directed by Lin before he became a series regular. Right out of the gate he shows a sure-handed approach with the action, with the drifting sequences providing some edge-of-your-seat stunt work. Adding Sonny Chiba to the supporting cast is a nice touch, and the film gives us the introduction of Han (Sung Kang), one of the coolest characters in the franchise. Grade: B 

5. The Fate of the Furious  (2017) 

Despite bringing skilled director F. Gary Gray into the mix, The Fate of the Furious feels a bit mechanical at times and the late Walker is sorely missed. The transition of Deckard Shaw from bad guy to good guy in the plot also feels a little awkward. Even so, this sequel still packs a lot of thrills. The opening race scene in Havana is dynamite and the angle of Dom working for the cyberterrorist villain Cipher (a welcome Charlize Theron) is a neat touch. Things get too insane in the third act, such as when Hobbs slings a submarine torpedo with his hands, but it’s still an exciting ride for the most part. Grade: B+ 

4. Furious 7  (2015) 

Famed horror director James Wan took a crack at action filmmaking with Furious 7 after usual director Lin stepped away. And boy did Wan deliver. Furious 7 contains a number of impressive sequences, with the mountain-road-and-armored-bus scene being one of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen. Adding Statham and Kurt Russell to the cast was a great move too and both actors fit in well. The film becomes exhausting and muddled after a while, but it ends on a tasteful and emotional note as the filmmakers pay tribute to Walker. He sadly passed away before finishing all of his scenes; his brothers and CGI filled in for the rest. Grade: B+ 

3. Fast & Furious 6  (2013) 

Riding high off of the new formula established in Fast Five (2011), Fast & Furious 6 is full of eye-popping stunts and effects. The tank-highway sequence and the cargo plane climax are adrenaline-fueled highlights. The Dom-Letty relationship is given a nice boost of attention. Luke Evans is a genuinely great villain in the franchise as Owen Shaw. All of that and more make Fast & Furious 6 a blast of a blockbuster film. It starts to lean the series into absurdity even more while not becoming fully cartoonish yet like in later years. Grade: B+ 

2. The Fast and the Furious  (2001) 

Here is the one that started it all with the car races, crazy stunts, and family importance — and is probably the last good film Rob Cohen directed. The Fast and the Furious is essentially a Point Break (1991) ripoff in terms of its plot, but it’s still a lot of fun as it puts a street racing spin on that plot. Right out of the gate Dom is a tough and interesting character, with his “quarter mile” speech memorable. The rest of the cast of up-and-comers is good too, with Walker especially bringing a lot of likability as Brian. The film’s action scenes are small compared to the ones that would come in later movies, but they are tightly and energetically filmed nonetheless. A lot of the sequels may be bigger and more expensive, but the original The Fast and the Furious has an antihero charm and briskness to it that still shines all these years later. Grade: B+ 

1. Fast Five  (2011) 

The best entry (so far) of the franchise is Fast Five. It was a game-changer in the series and just rocks from beginning to end. The film brought in an Ocean’s 11-like team element to the formula that immediately clicked, added Johnson as Hobbs to the mix, upped the wow factor with the ridiculous but entertaining action, and expanded the plot mechanics to include much more outside of street racing. All of those elements are still in play in the franchise to this day. The Brazilian locations and heist sequences add a lot of flavor to Fast Five and the climactic vault dragging scene is a showstopper. Lin may have stumbled in transitoning the series with the fourth installment, but he absolutely nailed it with the fifth one. Grade: B+

Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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