For the purposes of this ranking, I will refer to each film’s full title at the start and then only refer to them by a capital F followed by the number associated with their release order. This is partially to save time while typing, but also as a protest because the new film FOR SOME REASON is not named “The F8 Of The Furious”.
This is all happened for me in about February of 2015, when my roommate told me I had to take him to see Furious 7 because he planned on being drunk for it. This, of course, gave me the fun idea of watching the whole franchise for the first time because I love a good marathon. With the eighth film about to be released (it’ll also be the eighth film in Anna Swando’s filmography), I’ve decided to revisit most of the franchise in order to find the best way to accurately rank these beasts. Let’s see what happens.
- Fast & Furious (2009)
“What do you mean Tokyo Drift isn’t the worst one? I think someone should revoke your film degree!”
Well, you have a fair case because I’m putting a lot of work into this article about which car movie is the best. However I promise that you’re wrong about the first part. The worst film in the franchise is F4 without a single shadow of a doubt.
Trying to pull off a soft reboot with Diesel and Walker together for the first time since the original was no easy task, and the fact that we’re waiting on F8 means it was technically a success. It sets up the upcoming films by ramping up the stakes and incorporating the group dynamic, but falls into the same failings as the original by taking itself too seriously. Even beyond the darker tone, F4 is bar none the least memorable film of the entire franchise.
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
“This one seems like okay placement, carry on.”
Don’t worry, you’ll be mad at me again soon.
With the original being a surprise success, a sequel was quickly put into production. Vin Diesel was a bit too big for that though. He didn’t want to be tied down with a franchise, so he left in order to make xXx…and then The Chronicles Of Riddick…but then also The Pacifier, so it was a very weird time in general. The sole reason that F2 isn’t the worst in the series is because it’s much lighter in tone. Compared to the original, this one is a lot goofier, which some people claim to be a negative aspect, yet it worked for the later entries. While the CG is absolutely terrible, it did add Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris to the franchise, which HAS to count for something.
- The Fast And The Furious (2001)
“Are you serious? This is sacrilegious! There goes all your credibility!”
I knew you’d be back. Fasten those seatbelts, we’re still getting warmed up.
Cars, get it? But, not like Cars. No thanks.
The original is decent for what it does mostly because it set it’s sights so low. Dom and his gang are stealing and selling dvd players. When you look back on that fact from 16 years away, it feels rather quaint. Sometimes I even find it hard to remember that this all started with a cop and a criminal racing for respect. There isn’t a whole lot to this film that is actually bad, but then again, the effects shots following the nitro going through the car are some of the dumbest aspects of the whole franchise. F1 may just be a blatant ripoff of Point Break, but at least it’s the second-best Point Break movie we have.
- Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
“I mean, yeah, I guess so. This is fine.”
I know, not a lot of strong feelings for this one, right? F6 is the most middle-y of them all, but it serves as a nice handoff from F5 to F7. We’re taking full advantage of the full crew and their growing notoriety by taking down international criminal squads. Yeah, that tracks, seem natural.
Perhaps the best thing that F6 has going for it is the addition of Luke Evans. Having an actual face to put into the antagonist role really benefits the audience, and Evans knows exactly how to work against the team. A vast majority of the tank scene really works as well (just try not to consider all the tank related murder), but once you give me Roman jumping from car to car and Dom jumping off his own car to catch Letty AND landing on another car, that’s where you start to lose me. If you’re about to give me “suspension of disbelief” argument, you might as well stop. Those scenes are too silly for even this franchise.
Also, hey guys?
THAT IS THE LONGEST FUCKING RUNWAY IN THE WORLD AND IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY DAMN SENSE.
I won’t let that go.
- The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
“You’re an absolute idiot, I’m done reading your stupid list. Tokyo Drift is obviously the worst one!”
Have you actually watched it since it came out? I seriously doubt that you have, because it is noooooooowhere near the bottom.
The biggest argument against F3 is that Lucas Black is, well, bad. You would be absolutely right with that one. However, I’d argue that he isn’t even really the main character. The way the film actually plays out is geared toward Sung Kang’s character, Han. He is one of the best characters in the franchise, oozing more charm than most of them combined. Plus, he even comes with his own Brad Pitt-style quirk of always eating snacks, and that’s a lot of fun. The drifting (oh right, these movies are about cars) is really well done AND actually helps to progress the story. When you take into account the information we gain from F7, realizing that Jason Statham is the one who SPOILERS kills Han actually makes the scene even more meaningful, similar to how Rogue One makes A New Hope a better film.
Yes, I did manage to reference Star Wars in this article. Don’t act so surprised.
- Furious 7 (2015)
No more audience chatter. Let me clear my throat. I hope you don’t mind.
This part of the list was pretty tricky for me. Sometimes when you take film as seriously as I do and you also have an abnormal affinity for lists, you struggle with the concept of “best” vs. “favorite”. Sometimes they are the exact same, but they often aren’t. With this particular list, I have to remove my own bias.
F7 is my favorite film in the franchise. It is not the best of the bunch.
As of my writing this, F7 is still the only one of these films that I’ve actually seen in a theater, as stated at the top, so part of that experience lives on for me, even when rewatching. I’ll still argue that it might be the most fun film of them all.
First off, Jason Statham manages to top Luke Evans as “best villain”, and you saw my praise for the younger Shaw brother. His action movie and general badass credibility really adds to the stakes, and his scowl is practically unmatched. Adding a slicked-back Kurt Russell every few scenes was also a great move, giving us another higher-up since The Rock’s Hobbs has basically joined the group at this point. The delightfully over-the-top action so bonkers crazy and still perfectly in tone. They parachute cars out of a plane. They drive a car between skyscrapers. Hobbs not only flexes his way out of a cast, but he also drives an ambulance off a bridge in order to take out a drone. Yeah, you absolutely read that sentence correctly.
The MacGuffin car chase is extra silly, especially when a person jumps between car windows. Adding Nathalie Emmanuel’s character feels like they just regret killing Gal Gadot (and sure, she’s Wonder Woman now). The film leans a bit too hard on the monologues about family.
Plus, John “The Dwayne” Rockson loses a fight to Statham AND Michelle Rodriguez beats Ronda Rousey? I can only believe so much.
Then again, a car movie that can make so many dudebros cry at the end has to be worth something.
- Fast Five (2011)
Look, I’m sorry if it isn’t an interesting thing to say at this point, but I’m not going to lie on this list when I’m trying to be objective. F5 is absolutely the best individual film this franchise has produced so far. The crew has never felt stronger than in this film. Taking the general cues from F4 but dropping the over-dramatic tone, F5 really starts the feel the fun. And while I’ve already mentioned several characters as being “some of the best decisions”, I think the absolute best decision was adding The Rock, and that isn’t even fully due to my wrestling fandom. Post-Scorpion King, Dwayne Johnson really started to come into his own as a ridiculously charismatic action movie star, and he breathes a brand new life that this franchise deeply needed.
They don’t call him “The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment” for nothing.
Even the interpersonal relationships of the core group are at their best here. Tyrese and Ludacris find the perfect placement for their growing comedic duo, with Roman always being berated by Tej. My favorite, however, is the growing chemistry between Sung Kang and Gal Gadot, and I think that Han and Gisele are the most interesting duo for F5 and F6.
This is the last step before the series not only jumps the shark, but jumps the shark out of a plane and through three buildings.
They’re still criminals being actively pursued by law enforcement. While it makes sense (I’ve never meant those words less) for them to transition away from crime in the fiction. Even then, transitioning into their most bombastic, the key heist involving speeding away with a massive safe dragging behind Diesel and Walker is some of the best action filmmaking of the modern era, and should be considered amongst great cinematic car chases.
One can only hope that the addition of Anna Swando as production assistant can take The F8 Of The F8rious back over the top.
So what do you think? Just how wrong was I? Care to inform me just how bad Tokyo Drift actually is? Let me know down in the comments!