When The Fast and the Furious was released in June 2001, the signs did not portend its eventual future as one of cinema’s most durable and lucrative franchises. The original film, based on a magazine article about street racing, didn’t feature any A-list stars and wasn’t expected to make a dent in a summer featuring “surefire” box-office hits like Pearl Harbor, Tomb Raider and Planet of the Apes.
But then the NOS kicked in and audiences ate up the adventures of Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of their motley crew as they drove fast, executed capers, bested rivals and espoused family values in a series of increasingly over-the-top movies that helped reshape the action genre and showed Hollywood that a diverse cast could equal global box-office success.
With The Fate of the Furious in theaters, we decided to answer the burning question that’s been debated for years: which Fast and Furious movie is the best? Find out below with ET’s completely scientific ranking of all eight films, from worst to best.
8. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Plot: An American teen hoping to avoid jail time moves to Tokyo and finds himself immersed in the underground drift racing scene.
Worldwide box office: $158.5 million
Best line: “One car in exchange for knowing what a man’s made of? That’s a price I can live with.” – Han
The redheaded stepchild of the F&F series, this film suffers heavily from the absence of Dom and Brian, and from the lack of charisma projected by eternal man-child Lucas Black in the lead role. However, the film is slightly redeemed by its recently discovered role in the series’ chronology, as everything in this movie happens after the sixth film and before the seventh film, which is either a staggering amount of foresight or a brilliant piece of desperate screenwriting. This one is only for die-hards, completists and Bow Wow fans. Director Justin Lin would learn his lessons here and use them to much greater advantage in the next three movies.
7. Furious 7 (2015)
Plot: Owen Shaw’s brother enacts revenge against Dom and the crew for taking out his brother in the prior film.
Worldwide box office: $1.51 billion
Best line: “Thought you could leave without saying goodbye?” – Brian
The cloud of Walker’s death hangs over this film, which (understandably) feels disjointed and awkward, given the digital trickery used to complete Brian’s scenes. But even without that, there are two major problems with what turned out to be the franchise’s biggest box-office success to date: it doesn’t feel like a standalone film, with several hanging threads left to be addressed in part 8, and the stunts shifting from “amazing!” to “OK, this is going too far.” Is jumping through buildings with cars cool? Of course. Does that shatter reality and then grind it into pulp? Yes. BUT! Any movie with Jason Statham can’t be that bad, and the final scene of Brian riding off into the sunset made a single man-tear fall from many an eye.
6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Plot: The entire crew is reunited by Hobbs in an attempt to stop a group of fast-driving mercenaries who are wreaking havoc in London.
Worldwide box office: $788.7 million
Best line: “Uh, guys … they got a tank!” – Tej
There’s a clear line of demarcation between where the F&F films are rooted in some sort of reality and where they become a street-racing version of a James Bond movie, and this might be the perfect example of the latter. Dom is pulled back in when he discovers that Letty (Rodriguez) is alive and working for the nefarious Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, in a great bad guy role), and the gang goes off on a globe-trotting adventure that ties back into the previous film (and Tokyo Drift). Bonus points for the casting of Gina Carano and the inevitable girlfight that results, the finale on the longest runway in the known world and the surprising ending.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Plot: Disgraced cop Brian turns to an old childhood friend who just happens to be a street racer to help stop a ruthless criminal and clear his name.
Worldwide box office: $236.4 million
Best line: “Come on, man. Guns, murderers and crooked cops? I was made for this, bro.” – Roman
Look, movies are supposed to be fun, right? And there’s no denying this first sequel leans hard into the comedy and absurdity aspects of the franchise, a stark departure from the somewhat somber original film and a turnoff to some. But without Diesel’s gravitas (and gravelly voice), the action wisely shifts from L.A. to candy-coated Miami, with Brian teaming up with old friend Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and an undercover agent (Eva Mendes) to bring down drug lord Verone (Cole Hauser). A lot of F&F fans dislike this entry, but it maintains a goofy charm, introduces one of the franchise’s best characters (Ludacris’ Tej) and carries enough cool set pieces that its harsh reputation is undeserved.
4. Fast & Furious (2009)
Plot: FBI agent Brian teams up with Dom to help avenge Letty’s murder and bring down a Mexican heroin kingpin.
Worldwide box office: $363.2 million
Best line: “Maybe you’re not the good guy pretending to be the bad guy. Maybe you’re the bad guy pretending to be the good guy. Did you ever think about that?” – Mia
The first “true” sequel to feature both Diesel and Walker, this film again places our heroes on opposite sides of the law, as Dom works with his new crew and Brian continues his FBI career. But when Letty is murdered by drug lord Braga (John Ortiz, one of the series’ better baddies), the pair make an uneasy truce to get revenge. This film feels a lot like a bigger budgeted remake of the original movie, but the introduction of new characters like Han and Gisele and the finale in a series of underground tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico up the ante. But really, it just feels good to see Dom and Brian back in action.
3. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Plot: Dom turns against his family to become a wheelman for a brilliant cyberhacker intent on bringing down world powers through terrorist acts.
Worldwide box office: $529 million (in its opening weekend)
Best line: “It doesn’t matter what’s under the hood. The only thing that matters is who’s behind the wheel.” – Dom
A huge improvement from the previous film, the eighth installment in the series is an action-packed joyride that delivers some true, out-of-the-blue surprises that show there’s plenty of life left in this franchise. Even though you know Dom turns on the crew, to see it unfold remains shocking and Diesel (not the world’s strongest actor) pulls off his character’s torment well. The film gets a huge credibility boost from Oscar winner Charlize Theron as the notorious hacker Cipher, whose coolly psychotic demeanor and global reach make her the series’ best villain. New director F. Gary Gray keeps the action moving, ties up loose ends from previous films and leaves the door wide open for a logical next sequel.
2. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Plot: Undercover cop Brian O’Conner must figure out where his loyalties lie after he becomes friendly with the gang of street racers he’s been assigned to break up.
Worldwide box office: $207.3 million
Best line: “I live my life a quarter mile at a time.” – Dom
Looking back, the movie that started it all almost feels a little quaint, which is no surprise since it has its DNA in the teen potboilers of the 1950s (the title is shared with a 1955 film from B-movie king Roger Corman). So, while the melodrama hasn’t aged particularly well, the peek into the previously unexplored street racing scene still thrills, with star-making performances by Diesel, Walker and Michelle Rodriguez anchoring the film. The notion of this street racing crew as family is started here, making its presence in the sequels feel well-earned. The stakes may not be quite as high, but the visceral thrills on display make this one of the series’ best.
1. Fast Five (2011)
Plot: Dom Toretto and his crew butt heads with a Brazilian drug lord and a DEA agent and plan a massive heist in order to buy their freedom.
Worldwide box office: $626.1 million
Best line: “Above all else we don’t ever, ever let them get into cars.” – Hobbs
The perfect distillation of the F&F ethos, this movie has it all: the original cast operating at its peak; the addition of The Rock’s Hobbs, which re-energized the series; one of the great final chase scenes/capers of the franchise; and a couple of surprise cameos that helped move the story forward. While some series purists may disagree with the pivot away from the street racing scene, this film opened the franchise to the larger adventures and crazier stunts that would follow in the sequels. The Rock steals every scene he’s in, and if you don’t get a thrill watching the team drag a giant vault through the streets of Rio, you might want to check your pulse.