Your favorite adult cartoon series is back. And it is your favorite. It’s the action franchise that shows no signs of slowing down or losing its way, the perfect juxtaposition of gleaming pop art, lowbrow speed thrills, and character-based myth-building. The "Fast and Furious" films position themselves in a defiantly interconnected world where everybody is in your crew, you’re all going to get stupid rich, and nobody gets left behind. Because “family” or whatever. Here’s how they stack up, from worst to best.
8. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Your little B-movie was a giant hit. The studio demands a sequel. You say, “Duh… OK,” and remake the first film, only with more of the humorless, tough guy posturing that made it seem camp. The action is rote, the drama is dull, and this franchise that didn’t know what it wanted to be yet took itself way too seriously. If it were a sentient being, it would be that guy who still wears Affliction t-shirts and constantly threatens other men for looking at him the wrong way.
7. Fast & Furious (2009)
The franchise shifts back into the snarl it just can’t seem to shake after the giddy, hydraulic bounce of "Tokyo Drift." But at least the action is ridiculous, as wacky stunts involving gigantic moving objects like buses and oil tankers steal focus from the street racing. The plot: This heist and that heist and who cares, but it’s also the first of the bunch to make you wonder if you might be starting to give a damn about these characters. When Letty fake-dies, suddenly you do.
6. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Crime and punishment and street racing, when all the filmmakers knew was that they wanted to go vroom and introduce a crew of people who were merely extensions of automobiles. This makes it sort of like the human-growth-hormone remake of David Cronenberg’s "Crash," where all the kinky sex is replaced by glowering and monologues about pitiable half-men who have to take the bus to work.
5. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Mega-hacker Charlize Theron creates the gnarliest of Manhattan traffic jams by remotely accessing a bunch of keyless ignitions, setting up entire future sequels that bypass the need for human drivers altogether. But if those robo-cars can smash into each other, fly out of skyscrapers, and skid across the Russian ice while being chased by nuclear subs as gloriously as in this eighth installment, that’s something to keep in mind when it’s time to renegotiate actor contracts. #whateverfamily
4. Furious 7 (2015)
"Fast Five" reinvented the franchise, turning it into an all-quadrant cinema event, and the ending of "Fast & Furious 6" approached epic proportions, so all "Furious 7" had to do was keep the party going. Then Paul Walker died, necessitating reshoots and imaginative narrative solutions. The result was a moving tribute to the actor amid the bombast of flying cars and ever-more absurd stunt action, a middle finger to Death.
3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The franchise was directionless, so they started from scratch with the cast, aimed for Japan and brought in the invigorating presence of director Justin Lin (who poached the character of Han from his own earlier film "Better Luck Tomorrow" like it was always meant to be). The result is a bridge between boredom and blammo, the first of the films to allow for outlandish style and self-aware silliness. It set the template for what the series would become.
2. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Implausible to the point of breakage, the sixth installment seamlessly grafted together the solid muscle of "Fast Five," the earnest character development that had previously seemed laughable (the “Family” drinking game reaches its blackout point here), stunts to shame all other stunts, and an operatic, heartbreaking ending nobody saw coming. RIP Giselle (Gal Gadot); you’ll probably make a very good Wonder Woman.
1. Fast Five (2011)
One of the best action movies of the new century, the one that made art-house snobs finally take notice of this franchise. It’s full of brute force and nerve, car tricks to make you stand up and yell, a truly exciting heist plot, and character friction between The Rock and Vin Diesel that turned into a real-life diva feud of Crawford-and-Davis proportions. Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like "Fast Five."