When The Fast and the Furious first reached theaters all the way back in 2001, no one could have expected what would become of it. This wretched and deformed caterpillar defied all odds and somehow blossomed into a testosterone-soaked butterfly on the shoulders of muscle tees and nitrous oxide systems. The film received mixed reviews, but earned 5x of its total budget, which more than warranted a sequel. When the sequel’s box office gross tripled its budget, even more sequels were ordered and produced. This trend continued with unparalleled results and here we are in 2016, anxiously awaiting the eighth installment of the franchise due to drop in the summer of 2017.
I’ve long been a fan of these movies from the beginning (when I hate-watched it) to where the franchise currently stands as an actually enjoyable set of films that I love without any semblance of sarcasm or cynicism. These movies are fun – there is no disputing that. Like, they are a whole lot of fun. Once this franchise hit its mid-way point and realized exactly what it was, it gave us with the most action-packed, adrenaline-filled movie about titillated car enthusiasts that Hollywood has ever seen.
These movies have transcended the theater, leaving a protein-soaked stamp on our society and pop culture as whole. An eighth film of the saga starring Charlize Theron and Dame Helen Mirren will surely add an insane amount of money to its current $1.2 billion dollar domestic total. That number is 100% true, by the way. The Fast and the Furious franchise has almost made $4 billion dollars worldwide. That is over 4x the current GDP of Grenada! It has made a truly sickening, grotesque amount of money – and why not? Take away the cars, the murders, the unfathomably clean white v-necks (considering their constant interactions with exhaust) and what do you have? Well, for starters, probably the most diverse cast in a popular movie franchise. Jordan Brewster, Gal Gadot and Michelle Rodriguez were all staples in the franchise before Theron and Mirren hopped onboard, while Ludacris, Tyrese, Dwayne Johnson, Sung Kang, Don Omar and Tego Calderon have all played integral roles throughout the past seven movies – a far cry from today’s practices of placing white, male actors in every single prominent role without fail.
Secondly, these films make it a point, both on and off screen, to highlight the importance of family. Seriously, in Furious 7, 95% of Vin Diesel’s lines are just him muttering “family” in that deep, heavy, do-I-literally-have-10-meatballs-in-my-mouth-right-now baritone voice of his. When Paul Walker passed away mid-way through the filming of the last movie, that theme of family is elevated even further, and it rings true through the movie’s closing moments where even the most emotionless of monsters would be looking for some recently cut onions to blame for the state of their salty, wet faces.
So in honor of this franchise, which isn’t looking to be wrapped up anytime soon, let’s rank its seven phenomenal films to get us even more excited for Fast 8.
7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
I’m not going to lie, without Vin Diesel, it’s hard to get excited for these movies. Even though throughout this entire franchise, it largely looks like his face is attempting to take a nap without his body’s permission, he is the heart and soul of these movies. Funnily enough, Diesel turned down a $20 million offer to reprise his role as Dom Toretto in this sequel so he could act in The Chronicles of Riddick, a passion project which netted him just $50,000. Yikes.
6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Technically, this is the 6th movie (based on the universe’s chronological order) since Tokyo Drift breakout character, Han (Sung Kang), dies in between Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7. It’s a nice change of pace, with the beautiful Tokyo atmosphere acting as the perfect backdrop for what these movies do best: wild stunts, all involving cars.
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Though it introduced us to its world, there are a few reasons why the introductory film is so low on this list. First off, the quality was very much consistent with the times of the early 2000’s – and poor audio and visual effects weren’t helping a young Paul Walker who was still learning how to, um, act. Secondly, it took itself way too seriously, serving as a Point Break rip-off on wheels and it didn’t look like anyone was having fun – something that changed starting with the next movie on this list.
4. Fast & Furious (2009)
This was the fourth movie released, but third chronologically (stay with me here), and it was also the tipping point for the franchise where it finally became self-aware. No need to take itself too seriously was a theme that emerged here in this film before echoing through the rest of the franchise like clockwork.
3. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
One of the things I like about these movies is that it gives the behind-the-scenes players a chance to shine. Director Justin Lin and his team have slowly become the real stars of the movies, as the batshit crazy stunts, mostly done without CGI, are something that stays with the audience a heck of a lot longer than whatever words Vin Diesel is currently struggling to articulate. The tank sequence in this film was so insane, 100% real and did I mention, insane? These aren’t movies, they are experiences akin to indoor roller coasters and I love them so much.
2. Furious 7 (2015)
How do you one up a live tank shot? How about having cars literally jump from window to window into some of the tallest buildings in Dubai? Yep, that’ll do it. Honestly, the sixth and seven installments are eerily similar in quality. However, the sentimental aspect of Paul Walker’s untimely death really hits you. Hard. It’s almost obscenely emotional, as you’re not only forced to say goodbye to a character, but a father and a friend.
1. Fast Five (2011)
Ask any diehard fan and they will tell you that Fast Five is hands-down the best movie in the franchise… and possibly ever! Well, that last part is probably not true, but holy cow, this movie is seriously a wild and crazy ride from start to finish. Adding in Dwayne Johnson, a man who literally refers to himself as “franchise viagra,” was a defining move for the franchise, one that catapulted it into the box office phenomenon it is today.