This weekend marks the worldwide release of Furious 7, the seventh installment in the hugely popular The Fast and the Furious franchise that has grossed $2.38B at the box office worldwide (according to boxofficemojo.com) during the 12 years between The Fast and the Furious (2001) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013). It’s a phenomenal figure considering the budgets of the original trilogy, and has spawned a fandom of nerds, action enthusiasts, and car enthusiasts, to go with it. It seems like whether you’re an avid movie watcher who appreciates the simplicity of the action and complexities of the mythology, or you’re a casual viewer on the edge of your seat for some of the biggest (and coolest) names in Hollywood, the Fast and Furious franchise has something for you, and Furious 7 looks set to ramp up the action with some of the most outlandish stunts yet. Of course, Furious 7 won’t be included in this list, though I suspect that it’ll be reviewed positively by this very website given the emotional goodbye to Paul Walker that looks set to take place – keep an eye out for that. This list will instead rank all six of Furious 7‘s prequels from worst to best, hopefully solidifying the number one film of the franchise in your mind as well as mine. Of course, you may end up disagreeing with me. If you do, leave a comment after this post or send a tweet to TFM’s official Twitter account, and I’ll make sure to respond to as many of you as possible.
Engines at the ready? Here… We… Go…
6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was not only without Vin Diesel (mostly), but it was also without Paul Walker, making it the least Fast and Furious movie of the bunch. Set mostly in Japan, this picture seemed more like Universal’s attempts at expanding the flailing franchise than any attempt at entertaining audiences and thus emphasised its lack of heart, making for by far the worst of the franchise. In fact, it’s arguable that the only good thing to come from this was director Justin Lin (who went on to make three more Fast and Furious movies) and the introduction of the charismatic Sung Kang as Han.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious
Just as number 6 on this list sorely missed Vin Diesel’s presence, so did 2 Fast 2 Furious; the film that took the Paul Walker “undercover cop” element of the original picture to a new level, this time teaming his character Brian O’Conner with a number of car thieves to take down a super criminal with the help of old friend Roman Pearce (played by Tyrese Gibson). It was fun, sure, but it lacked the draw of Vin Diesel’s charisma as Dom Toretto and was quite far removed from the story of the original movie, isolating it as one of the worst Fast and Furious movies along with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift simply out of negligence to the original story arc.
4. Fast & Furious
Fast & Furious (2009) was the fourth installment in the franchise and was a much needed injection of adrenaline after the relatively minuscule amount of money that Tokyo Drift had taken at the box office. Justin Lin’s return to the director’s chair was a risky choice, but it paid off when his action was coupled by the re-introduction of a number of key characters that had been missing since The Fast and the Furious (2001), not least Dominic Toretto, Vin Diesel’s iconic character. This time, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner was in the FBI and needed Diesel’s Dom Toretto to take down a drug cartel from over the border, something Toretto only agreed to in order to help his former lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). It made for one of the more action packed editions of the franchise and was certainly a return to form for the Fast and Furious films, placing it strides ahead of the chasing pack in this list.
3. Fast & Furious 6
This movie was, appropriately, the culmination of all that came before it and helped to provide so much more of an emotional connection to Han, who we knew died in Tokyo Drift (this movie’s sequel in terms of the universe timeline), and helped to establish a new foe for Furious 7, Jason Statham. Remembered for its spectacular airplane chase/crash scene, and The Rock and Vin Diesel finally teaming up, Fast & Furious 6 was a movie of spectacle as well as emotion and was undoubtedly one of the better pictures in the franchise. At number three this movie can be ranked as better than most, but not quite as good as what’s to come.
2. Fast Five
This film was part heist movie, part car movie, and part action movie. The fifth installment in the series, Fast Five took to the exotic and beautiful streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, for some of the most enthralling action sequences in any action film, let alone a Fast and Furious movie. Pitting Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto against action megastar The Rock (as Hobbs) was a masterstroke by the producers and set fans up for what was a dream on-screen match for any fan of the franchise or action movies in general. Fast Five was also the first place we saw the likes of Han, Roman and Tej unite with Toretto and O’Conner, causing one of the more exciting moments for fans than at any other point in the franchise.
1. The Fast and the Furious
It is the first time in the history of my “ranked” column that the original movie of a franchise or collection of movies has ever been ranked number one in the list, and with good reason. The Fast and the Furious (2001) is the undisputed classic of the franchise for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it was fresh and interesting for the time, and is the reason for all that came after it. This movie was a surprise hit for Universal and repaid its production costs after only 3 days in the US box office, making it somewhat of a cult classic as far as movies this century go. This is because The Fast and the Furious had heart underneath its flashy car chases and action-packed visuals, making Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto an iconic action franchise leading male and asserting Paul Walker as a heart-throb good guy for the ages. With the ever-fashionable undercover cop story running throughout, The Fast and the Furious can now be considered the best picture of the six… Officially. Number one: The Fast and the Furious.
“Ride or die, remember.”