In Hollywood history, the Fast & Furious films are a fascinating franchise. What started out as a very straightforward Point Break remake in which hot street racers replaced hot surfers has since grown into a multi-billion dollar box office juggernaut that is just as motivated by its sincere themes of devotion as it is by guns, babes, and brawn. ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies has been handled by a variety of directors over the years with an amorphous, constantly changing cast, resulting in a succession of pictures that frequently feel distant and tonally dissimilar from one another but are nonetheless unmistakably a part of the same organism.
After twenty years and ten films, Fast and Furious is still evolving. Whether it’s due to the artistic input of various directors or how the tragic real-life death of Paul Walker changed the family, the Fast franchise has continued to expand and change without ever losing the essence of what makes it such a stalwart at the box office. It has also revealed an intriguing type of microcosm of how filmmaking has progressed over the past 20 years. This mobility has allowed for many highs and lows over the years. The mid-budget hit has evolved into a big-budget tentpole blockbuster with a star-studded cast, generating something resembling a small-scale cinematic universe along the way.
1. Fast Five (2011)
Johnson was up against the best of the best from the previous Furious films, including Dom, Brian, Mia, Han, Gisele, Roman, Tej, Leo, Santos, and even Vince, who made a welcome return to the family for the first time since the 2001 original. This helped earn Johnson the moniker ‘franchise Viagra’. With a superbly curated selection of the best players in the team’s history, each of whom arrived with established friendships, rivalries, and romances in their shared history, Fast Five solidified the idea of the family as a central tenet of the franchise after four films of rotating cast members.
The action is also among the best in the Furious movie to date. After the CGI-heavy technique in Fast & Furious received a bad review, Lin enlisted Spiro Razatos and his stunt team to give a realistic approach. And it simply reigns. The set pieces that came after Fast Five may have become wild and more ridiculous, but they’ve never been more exciting or powerful. The balance had now formally tipped in favour of action spectacle over crime drama, but reality-based storytelling was still somewhat present. Even in the loosest sense, understanding physics is necessary for the magnificent vault-towing finale set-piece to function, and as a result, it is all the more effective.
2. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
A joyous series outlier that simultaneously stands on its own and introduces a character so adored that the entire franchise timeline was rewritten to bring him back, Lin and Morgan’s Fast and Furious franchise debut is the most unfairly vilified of the Fast and Furious films. It’s understandable why some people are against the movie; Tokyo Drift relocates the action to Japan, abandoning the family and replacing them with a brand-new ensemble of outrageous high school characters. In addition, it placed a strong emphasis on street racing and revolved on a lead character who was maybe the worst driver in the world and an utterly unlikeable clown.
Lucas Black plays a rowdy teenage rule-breaker in Toyko Drift. He is sent to live with his slacker father in Tokyo, where he meets Kang’s Han “snack attack” Seoul-Oh, his street-racing mentor, and learns a new way of living while also learning a new way to drive. It’s a humorously respectful parody on the street racing mentor relationship introduced in the previous movie and a full-on B-movie thrill with gorgeous visuals, lots of explosive races, and pursuit scenes. Tokyo Drift bravely reinvents the series while doing so, managing to stand out as a wholly unique and disengaged movie inside the series that, in hindsight, weirdly came to form the core of the story.
3. Furious 7 (2015)
Furious 7 offers everything you could want for in a classic vengeance story that has been filtered through the ridiculous action pageantry that has been synonymous with the most recent Fast and Furious movie. A almost 15-minute long action sequence begins with cars skydiving out of an aeroplane. The Rock breaks out of the cast he received after falling from a four-story window. In Abu Dhabi, cars flip the bird at gravity as they soar between the buildings. As the naughty Mr. Nobody, Kurt Russell practically tap dances through the movie while ex-British Intelligence officer Deckard Shaw, played by fellow newcomer Jason Statham, makes for a franchise-best villain by literally and figuratively blowing up the family’s life.
The fact that Furious 7 must mix all this brilliant silliness with a moving send-off for Paul Walker, who passed away while filming, eventually results in a stranger, more depressing, and emotionally honest movie than was ever intended. And with a truly moving conclusion that should have been hard to pull off, it brilliantly nails the farewell. It’s a strange combination at times, but the fact that Furious 7 functions at all is a small filmmaking miracle, and the fact that it functions so effectively is a credit to James Wan’s talent and directing style.
4. F9 (2021)
F9, which is released in 2021, is the first Fast and Furious movie that director Justin Lin has helmed since Fast & Furious 6 and is just as outrageous, outrageous, and chaotic as any Fast and/or Furious movie has ever been. However, Lin also manages to firmly recenter the focus on family after the more Hobbs and Shaw-centric recent films. A truly amazing piece of surreal blockbuster cinema emerges as a result, one that finds a beautiful middle ground between sincere drama and overt self-parody.
F9 introduces John Cena as the new baddie; Dom and Mia’s long-lost, never-before-mentioned brother, who has a score to settle and a world to take over. He joins the core family crew and many other familiar faces, including Kang’s much-missed Han (with a pretty underwhelming delivery on the promise of “Justice for Han”). While Cena’s antics are exactly what you’d expect, including a wonderful never-ending zipline humour, they don’t quite fit the Fast and Furious tone as well as I’d hoped. F9 is a film that wants you to laugh along with the pandemonium at every step because everything about it is utterly outrageous.
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies has top-tier early-aughts CGI and rage-inspiring nu metal music, making it every inch the early 2000s Point Break rip-off that it was intended to be. Despite the fact that it is essentially unrecognisable from the franchise as a whole, Rob Cohen’s mid-budget actioner has endured amazingly well over the years despite the awful trappings of the early 2000. In contrast, it appears wonderfully quaint.
The Fast and the Furious introduced the family to a semi-grounded crime thriller set in the world of street racing and high-speed heists long before they were unofficial superheroes (and even before flatscreen TVs, no less!) The charming young Brian O’Connor (Walker) goes undercover in the alluring world of drag racing thieves, learns Dominic Toretto’s (Diesel) worldview, and realises he may not be the honourable lawman he once believed. It’s uncomplicated and unoriginal, but it’s nonetheless a good and enjoyable piece of mainstream entertainment, complete with a suspenseful robbery gone bad in the third act and some memorable B-movie language that the franchise hasn’t managed to top.
6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
How can you surpass ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies? You don’t, but Lin and Morgan were able to create an even more erratic concoction with Fast & Furious 6, the movie that NOS-blasted the franchise into wacko superhero melodrama territory. With Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty being revived, given a classic case of soap opera amnesia, and the family being thrown into a battle against a group of their wicked doppelgängers with a self-aware wink, this is the Furious movie that blatantly rejects all sense of reality.
The action is wild, including the fantastic highway set tank scene that establishes Dom as an untouchable superhuman and the infamous endless runway scen a depressing, tedious sequence that somehow killed a beloved character despite all the science-defying heroic feats of invulnerability sprinkled throughout the movie. Fast & Furious 6 is a mess with an especially weak villain in a genre of weak villains, but it’s a highly enjoyable mess with just as many gratuitous butts as foam parties or mud wrestling.
7. Fast X (2023)
Ithas a lot going on; in fact, this movie may be the first in the series to try to do too much. Fast X disperses the family over the world, and after eleven films, there are simply too many individuals for us to keep track of. Fast X occasionally achieves the highs for which the genre is renowned when it sticks to ridiculous action scenes that are deservedly outrageous. The advent of Jason Momoa as Dante, a very flamboyant and absolutely mad villain who could be the best in the genre, is what makes Fast X such a blast, though.
This episode is superior than some of the lower ones in the series because Dante is the ideal nemesis to Vin Diesel’s stoic Dom, and Dante’s attempt to torture Dom. We all know that Dante attacks the family to attract Dom’s attention. Momoa nevertheless makes this tenth entry in the mainline of the F&F series worthwhile, despite Fast X being too expansive and pompous for its own good.
8. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
Without the family, what good is a ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies? It turns out to be very little of a Fast and Furious movie. Standouts from “Fate of the Furious” With Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, Hobbs and Shaw make their own spinoff debut, with Deadpool 2 director David Leitch taking over the reins and series regular Chris Morgan penning the script. The end result is a franchise hybrid that seems just as connected to 80% of franchise movies in general as it does to the actual Furious films, and it is just as openly bromance-fueled as the films that came before.
Idris Elba’s villainous Brixton, a tech-enhanced superhuman in indestructible armour with a miniature Transformers-style motorcycle, adds a big dose of pure genre to the mix with Hobbs and Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw feels like a movie of a different kind, much less interested in paying homage to what fans love about the franchise than flexing its oh-so-spectacular muscles. Sometimes these changes result in thrilling action highlights. However, Hobbs and Shaw has its moments.
9. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Fate of the Furious has that tragic burden on its shoulders from the start because it was the first installment of the franchise to go into production following the unexpected loss of Paul Walker. By spinning the movie premise on its head and putting the family patriarch Dom Toretto against his own squad, veteran franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan and series newcomer F. Gary Grey cleverly avoid what could have been an awkward shift. By giving Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw a free pass for killing Han, one of the series’ most adored characters, they ultimately bend the formula to the point where it almost breaks, and in the process they appear to forget what family is all about. This fundamentally betrays the goofy earnestness that makes these films work.
Which is unfortunate since Statham makes a fiercely endearing hero, especially during his beats with Hobbs.
The surprise coupling revives the buddy comedy in the movie, which appeared to have been lost without Walker (and it ignites well enough to spawn an entire spinoff trilogy). Charlize Theron sleepwalks through a flurry of seductive but ominous murmurs in Fate’s introduction of Cypher, the big bad hacker with a big bad wig, while fellow newbie Helen Mirren takes pleasure in the vinegar of her all-too-brief appearance. Along the way, there are several amazing moments, but none can eventually make up for the fact that the plot compromises the franchise’s essential values.
10. Fast & Furious (2009)
‘Fast and Furious’ Movies is an adequate and useful movie that played a key role in the franchise’s transformation, although it falls somewhere in between the street racing drama of the first few films and the joyous logic-pumping action of the later flicks. Despite the fact that director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan were astute enough to reconnect the main family and build the foundation for the films to come, the fourth Furious movie suffers from a tonal mismatch that makes it a bit of a drag.
The best part of Fast & Furious is bringing back Paul Walker and Vin Diesel and reigniting the tension between Dom and Brian, who are once again pitted against one another as they compete for a spot on a crime lord’s driving team. Fast & Furious picks up the threads from the previous three films and starts weaving them together. The vehicle scenes in Fast & Furious, however, are simply awful, which is the ultimate Furious fault. Lin chooses to focus on dark, CGI-heavy races and chases instead of the kinetic splendour and colourful flourish he shown in Tokyo Drift. The worst of these are situated in a network of underground tunnels where we can hardly make out the action.
11. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
There isn’t much to enjoy about 2 Fast 2 Furious, not even for a diehard fan of the Fast and Furious series. Two years after the initial release of The Fast and the Furious, John Singleton’s egregiously (but famously) titled sequel debuted with a clear intention to duplicate the action-packed rhythms of the first film.
Brian partners with Roman and Tej, the comedic Tyrese/Ludacris duo who have become a staple in the Furious franchise, but the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious doesn’t allow their talent for biting banter to shine. It is the only non-spinoff Furious film that operates entirely without Dom, and it fails to deliver. A major issue for a movie series that feeds on the spirit of family is the general lack of any connection worth engaging in. Brian and Roman have scorching chemistry, but it pales in contrast to the Brian/Dom bromance.
Sum It Up!
The ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies has evolved and grown over the years, becoming a multi-billion dollar box office success. Despite changes in directors and an amorphous cast, the films have maintained their essence and themes of devotion. From the straightforward beginnings of street racing to the outrageous action spectacles, the franchise has developed into a small-scale cinematic universe. Each film has its highlights and low points, but overall, the series has captivated audiences with its mix of thrilling action, charismatic characters, and the enduring theme of family.