Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 by /Film Staff
It’s safe to say that nobody saw the success of the Fast and Furious series coming. What began as a straightforward tale of cops, robbers, and illegal street racing has ballooned (exploded?) into a globetrotting saga of espionage, high-stakes action, impossible heists, dramatic intrigue that would make your daytime soap opera of choice feel a little hot and bothered, and, most importantly, the importance of family. There’s nothing else quite like these movies and the world is a louder, weirder, nuttier place for their existence.
With the eighth film in the series, The Fate of the Furious, arriving this week, we decided it was time to do what the internet does to every long-running movie series at some point. It was time to rank the Fast and Furious movies.
If you’ve read some of our other rankings in the past, you know the drill. The entire /Film crew ranked all seven movies in the series (not including the newest movie) from worst to best. Each top choice received seven points, each second choice received six points, and so on, with each bottom choice receiving only one point. The totals were then tallied, resulting in the order seen here.
While each individual ballot was all over the place, there was one constant: every single person who participated in the voting chose the same film for the number one slot. We’ll get there in a bit. First, let’s see what came in last…
7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Despite its place on the bottom of our series ranking, I have not come here to bury 2 Fast 2 Furious. I haven’t come to praise it, either. I have simply come here to say that the much-maligned second film in the series, while a bad movie, has too much doofy charm to be written off entirely.
Years before the series would truly weaponize glorious idiocy with the brilliant Fast Five, 2 Fast 2 Furious finds the franchise struggling to find its voice and its feet in the wake of Vin Diesel hightailing it out of there. The results are sloppy and stupid and worthy of your fair share of eye rolls, but there are moments to treasure. It’s hard to hate any movie that introduces Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’ Tej Parker to the world, especially since they’ll go on to become two of the series’ secret weapons. While the plot is inane, there are just enough practical stunts and just enough silliness and just enough baffling decisions (from both the characters and the filmmakers) to make this movie worthwhile.
Barely. Kind of. Sort of. This is a bad movie. It probably deserves its spot on the bottom of the list. But at least it has a pulse. And it’s hard to hate any movie where the accidental sexual tension between the two male leads is so thick that you can cut it with a dull butter knife. (Jacob Hall)
6. Fast and Furious (2009)
While some credit should be given to Fast and Furious for getting Paul Walker and Vin Diesel back into the franchise and setting the stage for various threads in the future films, this movie is quite the slog. It’s fun enough seeing Brian O’Connor and Dominic Toretto forced to go head-to-head again, each with their own motivation for trying to win a street race that gets them on a team of high-speed drug smugglers. It sounds like it has the potential to be a great Fast and Furious movie, but it fails where the previous movies succeeded.
The races and chases in Fast and Furious lack all of the excitement that made the first three movies entertaining. Even 2 Fast 2 Furious had better driving sequences, despite the fact that the movie as a whole is still worse. One of the cornerstone action sequences has Brian and Dom driving for Arturo Braga’s drug smuggling team, but it all takes place in underground tunnels, where it’s dark and the driving sequences are reduced to lame visual effects instead of impressive stunt driving. There is a fair share of CG in the more recent films, but it’s nowhere near as bad as this boring, lame sequence, which really brings the whole movie down. (Ethan Anderton)
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
It’s obvious to anyone with eyes that The Fast and the Furious is just Point Break with cars instead of surf boards, and while it isn’t as brilliantly crafted as Kathryn Bigelow’s pop masterpiece, Rob Cohen’s 2001 actioner has its own charms. Before Roman, Han, Gisele, Hobbs, and the rest of the team got involved, this movie lays the groundwork for the series’ eventual concentration on family, with Dom, Letty, Mia, Vince, and Jesse as the core unit and the fresh-faced Brian O’Conner as the undercover interloper who learns that loyalty is more important than his job.
Plenty of the film is cringe-worthy to look back on now – cheesy CGI that traces the path of NOS through the car’s valves, and that awful early ’00s soundtrack are peak examples – but a surprising amount of it still works. The budding bromance between Paul Walker and Vin Diesel is terrific, many of the stunts look great, and Jesse’s death is unexpectedly poignant (RIP, Jesse). It’s amazing that this film series has grown into a billion-dollar mega-franchise that started with this fun little mid-budget action flick, but looking back, you can see the seeds for its success were planted at the very beginning. (Ben Pearson)
4. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
When the scholars of the distant future put pen to paper and write the definitive chronicle of the Fast and Furious series, the sixth film will go down for one main thing: it existed between Fast Five and Furious 7. Perhaps that’s fitting for the most middle-of-the-road Fast and Furious movie, the film that serves as the bridge between part five’s perfect evolution of the series formula and part seven’s blockbuster lunacy. One only became the other because this movie happened to exist between them.
As a link between movies, Fast and Furious 6 is fascinating, an example of cinematic escalation that only becomes more interesting as the series gets wilder. As a standalone action movie starring characters we’ve grown to love, it’s very good. The action is nutty, Dwayne Johnson’s increased role is welcome, and the evil doppelgängers that Dom and his crew must face reflect the series’ growing self-awareness. Most of all, this movie doubles down on what made Fast Five work so well: this crew is at its best when everyone is allowed to chill out and have a little bit of fun. After all, you come for the car chases, but you stay for the family. (Jacob Hall)