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Ranking The 'Fast And Furious' Franchise Films From Best To Worst

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by Drew Taylor
May 21, 2013 12:59 PM
43 Comments
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Fast & Furious 6
3. "Furious Six" (Justin Lin, 2013)

Picking up where "Fast Five" left off, "Furious Six" (and that is the intended title, as far as Justin Lin is concerned) is even more wildly over-the-top, yet still deeply concerned with the notions of family and togetherness reinforced by the last film. It's an interesting interplay that Lin has come up with – trying to deepen the emotional stakes while raising the bar on the action sequences – and "Furious Six" mostly purrs like a kitten (what? We're running low on car metaphors). Instead of Rio, the gang reassembles in London, in order to help Hobbs (Johnson) track down ruthless villain Shaw (Luke Evans), who uses street racing to pull elaborate, potentially dangerous jobs (he's assembling a bomb or something). One of the wheelmen assisting Shaw is actually Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who seemingly died a couple of movies ago. (But not really!) While "Furious Six" doesn't quite leave the impression "Fast Five" did, it's still wonderfully entertaining and has a bittersweet edge, as well, since you can feel that Lin's trilogy is coming to a close (complete with montage-y title sequence -- the director's departing for greener pastures, with James Wan taking over next time). There are two action sequences that are probably better than anything in the entire franchise – one involves a tank and a chase on an elevated highway; the other (which Lin told us he had been planning since 2009) involves a plane. That's all we'll say. Walker continues to be a drab buzz-kill with his sub-plot, which sees a couple of "Fast & Furious" characters returning for no reason, and proves to be a low-point. But for the most part, "Furious Six" is a blast, with Lin ballooning the cast with actors from two of the best action movies in recent memory – "Haywire" (Gina Carano) and "The Raid" (Joe Taslim). It just would have been nice to find a place for Eva Mendes' character, who appeared in the post-credits bumper during "Fast Five" but sadly doesn't return. Maybe most impressive is the fact that "Furious Six" makes amends for the weird chronology of the series (Sung Kang, a character both introduced and killed in the third movie, has been alive and well in four on). Goodbye Justin Lin. Nobody revved our engines quite like you did.


"Fast Five"
"Fast Five"
2. "Fast Five" (Justin Lin, 2001)

"Fast & Furious" showed some signs of engine trouble, so director Justin Lin took it into the shop and dramatically retooled the entire franchise. "Fast Five" shifts into high gear and is wholly unlike any other entry in series – it picks up fifteen seconds after the last film ended, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) getting bussed to prison, and subsequently rescued by his partners-in-crime (which now include Paul Walker's former goodie two-shoes Brian O'Connor). The fact that the previous film ended on a cliffhanger tells you that at least Lin had confidence in his inner-series trilogy-building, and "Fast Five" takes things even further – instead of a cops-and-robbers story, it's an all-out heist film, with a number of satellite characters from earlier entries in the series (Ludacris, Tyrese, Matt Schulze, even Sung Kang from 'Tokyo Drift') and, most impressively, a new heavy in the form of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Diplomatic Security Service agent Hobbs (because honestly there weren't enough ethnically nebulous beefcakes in this series already). Our characters, now fugitives from the law, are hiding out in Rio de Janeiro. Old habits die hard, of course, and after a botched job involving stealing cars from a moving train (one of the most breathless action sequences in a movie overstuffed with them), they're slowly pulled into a scheme to rob a bank from a corrupt businessman, which turns the movie into a kind of "Ocean's Eleven"-with-muscle cars. It was kind of a dodgy gamble, but one that is pulled off incredibly well, with virtuoso set piece after virtuoso set piece, culminating in a climax where they drag a bank vault down the crowded streets of Rio de Janeiro (just typing that sentence made me feel really awesome and manly). Thematically, "Fast Five" reinforces the notion that the series has always been about family and it's a testament to Lin's skill as a director (and Chris Morgan's nimble script) that he was able to pull together all of the threads from the franchise into one concise package, all while fundamentally altering the series' DNA.

Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift
1. "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (Justin Lin, 2006)

After the tepid response to initial sequel "2 Fast 2 Furious," it looked like the franchise had all but been marked for the scrap heap, with a "spin-off" movie, divorced from the previous films' continuity and respective casts, and saddled with an unwieldy title, seemingly one step above direct-to-video sequels-in-name-only like "American Pie: Band Camp." In truth, 'Tokyo Drift,' freed from the cops-and-criminals conventions of the original two films and emboldened by a stylistic adventurousness, ended up the highlight of the entire franchise and maybe the only truly "great" movie in the series. One of the best decisions in a movie made almost exclusively of them was having the movie centered around high school kids instead of boring young adult types, which lends the whole thing an "American Graffiti"-with-yakuza-bosses vibe. The plot concerns a troubled high school kid (Lucas Black, continuing the series' tradition of bland-as-milk white guy leading men), who is prone to dangerous street racing and given a choice: he can either go to juvenile hall, or be shipped off to live with his absentee father in Japan. He chooses the latter. The audience, like the character, is introduced to the underground world of "drifting" – a Tokyo phenomenon where the cars are driven incredibly fast and then the emergency brake is pulled, causing the car to seize and "drift" around tight corners (unlike in America, there isn't a whole lot of room to race cars in Japan). Director Justin Lin, who had grown weary of the increasingly computer-generated nature of the previous films, decided to do as much of the movie with real cars as he possibly could, with only minor computer-generated embellishments (like the moment the camera gets behind the bumper of a car and the wall of a parking garage, to dramatize just how close they come). Lin had a clear vision for where the franchise would need to go and how it would get there, and he executes it brilliantly – everything from the choice of music (the theme song is done by Japanese art-rap stars Teriyaki Boyz), to the casting (Sonny Chiba shows up as a yakuza boss), to the races, which seem like something of an afterthought. That's not a knock – it's just that everything else about "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift" is so vibrant and alive that even cars going 100 miles-per-hour down crowded Japanese streets can't quite compete. The fact that Diesel makes a cameo at the end proved that the franchise was, indeed, still very much viable – and what's more, it was about to hit its nitrous booster and really kick into high gear, at least as far as box office goes.

Thankfully just because Justin Lin (who is sort of like the David Yates of the "Fast and Furious" franchise) has left doesn't mean that the series is over – next summer will see the release of "Fast and Furious 7," this time helmed by "Saw" director James Wan (who we understand wants to bring a seventies chase movie vibe to the project). It's got a big-time action star as the villain (we can't reveal who, just yet – remember to stay through the credits to find out) and a series of international locales. Ladies and gentlemen… start your engines! The seventh installment vrooms into theaters July 11th, 2014. 


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43 Comments

  • Ryan | May 3, 2014 2:02 AMReply

    Yes! Great list. My family and I go back and forth on which was the better F&F movie: 5 or Tokyo Drift. Tokyo Drift is such an under appreciated movie too. Glad to see that it was well liked by someone other than us!

  • twqq | March 24, 2014 9:41 AMReply

    wow, I can't even begin to understand many of the Rankings

    6. TOKYO DRIFT- Killed the best character, the rest was OK
    5. Fast Six- had key cast members, stupid plot, MR makes no sense with her amnesia through the entire film and I found the whole thing to be one big cluster****
    4. Fast and Furious- what the 2nd should have been, still didn't quite get it right
    3. 2 fast 2 Furious- not enough credit given that this launched a bunch of the best characters in the series. its a fun movie, had me until they jumped a car onto a boat.
    2. Fast Five- a Heist Movie, they knew it was a Heist Movie, add in the Vince storyline and family elements among characters and IMO this should have been the last Fast and Furious movie ever made. perfect way to go out
    1. The Fast and the Furious(1)- started it all, best plot, best character work, introduction to great new world of racing and family. loved all of it, remains one of my fav "fun to watch but ultimately bad" movies.

    we all know the entire franchise is just pretty much one long bad mini series, but its fun. sometimes the fun is all that matters. maybe Tokyo Drift will win me over, but Han dying pretty much made me hate that film, and if we had Brian instead of the wanna-be Paul Walker maybe we would have had a better movie

  • Juan | January 23, 2014 11:33 PMReply

    Recently finished 2 fast 2 furious...man this movie really sucks, it felt like a cheap comedy with cgi cars rather than a fast furious entry. I think the original is waaaay underrated! It should be at least in place 2....tokyo drift was awesome though btw lol and david yates is a mediocre director, don't compare justin lin to that trash!

  • Aaron | January 22, 2014 3:41 AMReply

    This list is such a joke. All of the fast and the furious movies have a slice of ridiculous suck to them, but at least they typically have a focus on cars and racing...I cannot believe the praise tokyo drift seems to receive...The one fast and the furious (aka street racing) style movie that I sat 45 minutes through before giving up...this movie has hardly anything to do with cars or racing...ff2 had a nissan skyline, one of the most sought after import cars ever in it, and Tokyo drift so far, has not...WTF!?

    also, they take the a country bumpkin actor who looks 40 and try to act like he is in high-school...give him the most douchy personality...Paul Walker can come across as douche, but that is never a direct in your face douche like the actor in Tokyo drift...he is only douche seeming because he has an amazing car, care-free personality that comes off self-centered, and hot chicks flock to him no matter what he does.

    VS. this guy who is a straight up old-unattractive-douchebag, yet people still want to be there for and support?,,,Miss you Paul Walker! (as well as your character)

    I really do not understand how Tokyo Drift receives this cult praise when it is the least honest-to-racing insertion among the entire series with the most awful main character ever! I wanted the guy to run off the road and die so the movie would unveil whoever was the real main character and it never happened...

    This is also not a comment because I am some big Paul Walker fan either...I watched the first movie in theaters as a kid and have never watched any one ff movie since...I am just now catching up...and I heard tokyo was one of the best...yet, it is a joke...

  • mike | December 10, 2013 9:59 AMReply

    wtf i suppose someone with out any sense of reality and totally messed up minds who cant turn a real spanner has to like this fast and spurious rubbish.Get a life of your own ,peeps.

  • Brian | December 8, 2013 1:00 PMReply

    Only correct ranking would be:
    1. The Fast and the Furious
    2. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
    3. 2 Fast 2 Furious

    4-6 is the biggest shit ever, nothing to do with cars anymore, just stupid action with Dwayne "retard" Johnson.

  • AF E | September 16, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    Please Answer.

  • AF E | September 16, 2013 10:46 AMReply

    which director is better? Rob Cohen-Justin Lin-John Singleton

  • John L | September 5, 2013 3:55 PMReply

    Cheers, my list is pretty much the same as yours. I'd put the 1st movie ahead of Fast 4 just for nostalgia. I hate the direction the franchise has taken since Fast 4. It's not about cars anymore, it's now an action movie franchise. The cars have been sidelined so much they feel like cardboard. The characters could have easily been piloting a plane or whatever, it doesn't matter.

    I don't understand how people used to complain that these movies had no plot but they're perfectly fine with a stupid story. This is why I hate the new direction. Drugs, the military, terrorists, but it all has to do with cars somehow. The military could've easily shot down those terrorists but no, they have to rely on a gang of street racers. Sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but no. The plot somehow has to do with cars but it's not dedicated to cars. In the end the characters drive tanks, shoot at each other, punch other, the cars are like just standing there. "I'll wait here, you go do what you have to do." That's my problem with Fast 6, too much talking and not fast paced enough. Stop trying to take yourself so seriously and rationalize a plot that's stupid to begin with. Acknowledge the plot is silly and go along with it.

    Then there's that obligatory single race in each movie since Fast 4 like, just to show you this is our roots. But they're lame. Might as well not do it at all. Fast 5 was the last in the franchise that I saw in the cinema. It was fun, but definitely not a car movie.

    Love Tokyo Drift. The story and the characters seemed the most plausible. Guy learns to drift, gets in trouble with gangs, places wager with gang leader. Yeah, becoming DK in a matter of months was a big stretch, but have you seen what the other guys are doing in the other movies? They're bloody jumping off tanks without even a single scratch! It's the bloody Avengers!

    I also loved the attention to detail in Tokyo Drift. Every shot was beautiful. It was vibrant and had a really great feel to it. Some of the scenes really make you feel at home if you live in Asia. Can't believe some of the scenes were shot in the US.

    And yeah, CARS!

    I think Tokyo Drift gets a lot of hate because 1) People never really liked the 1st movie to begin with. The target market was small and then 2) Tokyo Drift further divided that market into people who liked drifting and people who hate it.

    There was actually a lot going on in Tokyo Drift that people didn't seem to notice. Like that father and son thing. I'm glad they didn't include a cheesy dialogue between them about "Believe in yourself bla bla bla." It was handled rather realistically. Then there was that... reverse-racism? But I guess it's not reverse-racism if you are the outsider in Japan, haha. I think that further divided the viewers. White guy not scoring with Asian women? Some people must've gone, "Fuck no!" Then there was Bow-Wow's little hustler trying to survive in the world. The way DK treats women. Like it or not, it happens in real life, just depends on where you look. And anybody notice a bit of a noir feel to the movie? Nobody complains when a noir movie has a simple story.

    Long story cut shot, I've given up on this franchise. I actually think it might be a bad thing that they linked up Fast 6 with Tokyo Drift. We knew it was coming, but it can potentially ruin its legacy. All that shit about drug lords, secret chips, terrorists, urgh.

    Last gripe before I end this rant, they wasted Sung Kang. All he does in Fast 4 to Fast 6 is blurt one-liners. He's been reduced to token Asian guy. Couldn't even give him a believable relationship with Gisele. He goes to Japan because of her but then the reason he drifts is to pick up chicks?

    And Dominic used to be motherfucking badass, now he's constantly preaching about family like some senile old fart. If I was there, I'd shoot him.

  • Mike | August 12, 2013 9:07 AMReply

    I'm sorry but this list is horrible Fast and Furious 1 second from bottom?? I don't think so

    This is the list

    1. Furious 6
    2. Fast Five
    3. The Fast and Furious 1
    4. Fast and the Furious 4
    5. 2 Fast 2 Furious
    6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

  • Karam Jbara | November 18, 2013 1:28 PM

    I totally agree with your list. It makes more sense. Furious Six has more action than Fast Five, The Fast and Furious 1 is pretty good because it is the intro of the franchise, and finally Tokyo Drift sucks ass cause it isn't starring Vin Diesel, obviously making it a total fail.

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  • Thousands of people | July 1, 2013 4:21 AMReply

    1. Furious 6
    2. Fast Five
    3. Fast and Furious
    4. The Fast and the Furious
    5. 2 Fast 2 Furious
    6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

    But then again they are are incredibly close but Furious 6 is no doubt the best.
    I reckon Fast and Furious 7 will be better than 6 because the story has opened up and Jason Statham is joining!!!

  • Trio | May 29, 2013 6:47 AMReply

    DREW TAYLOR ----- please stop doing a critic's job because you can write shit nor did you understand the franchise.......Tokyo Drift maybe not be the worst or it may definitely be the worst, but its definitely not the best..... that place definitely belongs Fast Five long ago irrespective of how many sequels are made..and with Justin Lin now there is no change....

    Thank You....You Dash.....

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:40 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:40 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:40 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:40 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:39 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:39 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:39 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • Brett | August 11, 2013 11:38 PM

    You're as crazy as a wild dog if you think that 2fast 2 furious deserves anything worst than last... that one was ridiculous.

  • nightgoat72 | May 28, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    Go home, Playlist - you're drunk.

  • Karam | November 18, 2013 1:31 PM

    well said, friend!

  • Snaily | May 25, 2013 12:03 AMReply

    I liked Tokyo Drift. It was predetermined to be horrible based on the direct-to-dvd aura, and having no big names in it. People went in to the theatre with their mind made up. I'mnot saying it was the best of the series, but there's no way that 2 Fast 2 Furious is honestly better.

  • mike | May 22, 2013 8:11 PMReply

    I havent seen fast 6 yet and I love what justin lin has done with these movies but tokyo drift was with out a doubt the worst movie in this series the only good thing to come from that movie was the introduction of Han who is one of my favorite characters in the movies and that Vin Diesel made that cameo setting him up to return for the rest of the films not to mention its suppose to be a prequel to the rest of the movies made after it which is one of the dumbest things ever basically tokyo drift could have never been made and it wouldnt have matter to the stories in the rest of the movies not to mention with the exception of Han and DK all the characters in tokyo drift sucked and the actors were terrible

  • ASFan | May 22, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    I like the sound of a 70s chase movie vibe. Just wondering where you heard that info.

  • Beckman | May 22, 2013 11:53 AMReply

    Finally! Tokyo Drift is true greatness. The races are by far the best in the franchise. I've seen them all several times now, and while The Fast and The Furious becomes a little boring, 2fast and Fast and Furious seems more and more ridiculous each time, Tokyo Drift and Fast Five still feels fresh and vibrant. Haven's seen Fast 6 yet though.

  • John L | September 5, 2013 4:09 PM

    High 5!

    Fast 6 doesn't know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a spy movie? Or an action movie? Or a family drama where Dominic preaches the values of family? Lol. Hate the new direction of the franchise, but at least Fast 5 knew it wanted to be a heist movie.

    People seem to not be able to scratch more than the surface with Tokyo Drift. It's like Tron Legacy, dare I say. There's a whole living breathing world in there. There's a lot of backstory. But it's pretty much left to your imagination what those backstories are. The minute Sean steps foot in Japan you're just sort of thrown into this world and left to explore.

    Aih, whatever, either you get it or you don't.

  • Jim | May 22, 2013 4:28 AMReply

    Tokyo Drift was the worst of all. Fast five is by far the best.

  • Jacques Demolay | May 21, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    Seriously, though, you best be trollin', fuckers. Tokyo Drift. Shit. What the fuck, man?

  • Jacques DeMolay | May 21, 2013 3:08 PMReply

    What the fucking fuck? Tokyo Drift is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and clearly the worst of the franchise. I've been reading you guys almost every single day for over 4 years straight and this is the most heads-up-your-asses thing I've EVER seen you guys write.

  • Msgeekswag | May 21, 2013 2:35 PMReply

    This article is ridiculous naming the only one the of the movies that truly sucked as the best. The other 5 movies are incredible action films and all characters are great. The only thing I agree with is Eva Mendez should have been in Furious 6.

  • Msgeekswag | May 21, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    This article is ridiculous naming the only one the of the movies that truly sucked as the best. The other 5 movies are incredible action films and all characters are great. The only thing I agree with is Eva Mendez should have been in Furious 6.

  • Msgeekswag | May 21, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    This article is ridiculous naming the only one the of the movies that truly sucked as the best. The other 5 movies are incredible action films and all characters are great. The only thing I agree with is Eva Mendez should have been in Furious 6.

  • thissucked | August 16, 2014 6:17 PM

    this article sucked just because it has long paragraphs doesn't mean it make a better case, Tokyo drift was terrible and had the worst review from real critics. Who ever made this does not know what they are talking about

  • Msgeekswag | May 21, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    This article is ridiculous naming the only one the of the movies that truly sucked as the best. The other 5 movies are incredible action films and all characters are great. The only thing I agree with is Eva Mendez should have been in Furious 6.

  • Glass | May 21, 2013 2:05 PMReply

    WHY??? WHY **THIS** CONTENT???

  • K | May 21, 2013 1:49 PMReply

    Tokyo Drift is the X-Men 3 of the franchise. The title is Fast and Furious ... not "Watch this annoying redneck chase this asian around corners."

  • Karam | November 18, 2013 1:34 PM

    lol you just cracked me up in class...lol BEST OPINION EVER!!!!

  • Tally | May 21, 2013 1:26 PMReply

    top 3 IMO are 5 fast 5 furious, the 1st one and tokyo drift.

  • Chris | May 21, 2013 1:14 PMReply

    Wait, what? "Tokyo Drift" was awful. And I'm a Justin Lin fan, but "truly great"? Jesus.

  • Jon | May 21, 2013 1:27 PM

    I disagree "Tokyo Drift" was "Truly Great". It was great to see the use of Much less CGI, concentrating on real driving and being a simple story of fish out of water story.

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