Like a raccoon looting through food scraps in a dumpster, I’ll watch anything I can get my hands on. Foreign cinema, horror films, romantic comedies, weird b-movies nobody’s heard of — I like it all. That’s not to say I don’t have my preferences though, and big action franchises are definitely near the bottom of my roster.
So, when I decided to watch and rank the entire “Fast and Furious” saga to prepare for the release of “Fast X,” the tenth film in the franchise, I knew I had my work cut out for me. What I didn’t expect, however, was for me to come out of this movie marathon with a greater appreciation for not only the eccentricities of the franchise, but for the actors and filmmakers who have dedicated their lives to fast cars, big explosions and of course, familia.
My journey began with 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious.” This film introduces us to the franchise’s leading men: Dominic Toretto, an infamous street racer, and Brian O’Conner, a LAPD officer sent to investigate a string of semi-truck hijackings that the FBI thinks Dominic is responsible for.
This film was interesting to watch in the context of the rest of the franchise. Knowing how absurd things become down the line, the story is relatively contained. Is it “Point Break” but with street racing instead of surfing? Absolutely. But there’s something about Paul Walker’s awkward line delivery and bleach blonde hair that almost feels nostalgic. The film has a strong sense of time and place, with the streets of Los Angeles serving as the perfect backdrop for this “enemies-to-brothers” story with breakneck pacing.
Next up was “2 Fast 2 Furious,” a film as ridiculous as its title. The film follows Brian, now in Miami, where he has given up his badge in exchange for a career in illegal street racing. In short, this film is about the student becoming the master, and I loved every second of it. Because the franchise was still in its infancy, the film takes itself semi-seriously, which completely works, making it arguably the most underrated film of the franchise.
Unfortunately, I did not have as much fun watching “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” Although this film has gained a cult following, I found myself uninterested in the story. Neither Walker nor Vin Diesel returned for this installment. Instead, the film follows Sean Boswell — a high schooler who moves to Tokyo and becomes involved in the city’s drifting scene. The most iconic thing about the movie is the fact that Sean looks old enough to have a 9-to-5 job and a mortgage.
The next three films — “Fast and Furious,” “Fast Five” and “Fast and Furious 6” — were somewhat forgettable, but still enjoyable. The fourth film reunites Brian and Dominic and features an early lineup of the supporting cast seen in the series moving forward. The fifth and sixth films both feature wild action set pieces, controlled enough to prevent franchise fatigue.
“Furious 7” carries a heavy emotional weight. Due to the tragic and untimely passing of Walker, production was halted and the story was reworked. But with the help of Walker’s brothers and CGI, they completed the film. Not only that, but the cast and crew made what I consider the best film in the franchise.
“Furious 7” features everything that you want in a “Fast and Furious” film: cool cars, an elaborate heist, family, ice-cold Coronas and Diesel triggering an earthquake by stomping on the ground. The film has so much love behind it, I couldn’t help but weep during the tribute to Walker at the end. As the credits rolled, I realized that these movies have a lot more heart and soul than I previously thought. After seven films, I finally understood.
The eighth and ninth installments were somewhat forgettable, but it didn’t matter anymore; I was a member of the family. In retrospect, I understand why a supporting character calls the team a “cult with cars” in “Fast X.”
Finally, after nine films, it was time for me to see “Fast X.” Apparently, the people of Bloomington weren’t very eager to see the film at 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, because I was the only one in the theater. It was just me, Mr. Diesel and Jason Momoa’s pastel wardrobe against the world.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve invested an incredible amount of time in this franchise, but I adored “Fast X.” Everything feels bigger — the stakes, the action, even the performances. Momoa is easily the franchise’s best villain. His screen presence is electric and perfectly contrasts Vin Diesel’s stoic, tough-guy persona. I can’t wait to see how the story builds in future installments.
Now for the ranking. It’s a little all over the place, but after literal hours of “research,” I feel qualified to take on the task. Without further ado, here it is:
1.) “Furious 7” (2015)
2.) “The Fast and the Furious” (2001)
3.) “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003)
4.) “Fast X” (2023)
5.) “Fast and Furious” (2009)
6.) “The Fate of the Furious” (2017)
7.) “Fast Five” (2011)
8.) “Fast and Furious 6” (2013)
9.) “F9” (2021)
10.) “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006)