Franchises or movie series aren’t a new concept in the world of films. It can be dated back to as far as 1932’s The Mummy. But due to the MCU’s popularity, the free-flowing nature of this format of storytelling has been boiled down to a formula. Which is that, every franchise needs to have an unique selling point that must then be followed by every incoming filmmaker. Instead of, you know, a director bringing their own flavor to a franchise and thereby enriching it. Now, while there are some examples of filmmakers trying to break out of this cycle (i.e. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, The Mission: Impossible Franchise, and Blumhouse’s take on the Universal Monsters), with the release of Fast 9, it’s apparent that the Fast and Furious franchise is in no mood to do that. Because they’ve decided to overdose on ‘family’ until it runs out of fuel.
So, unlike every other “worst to best” rankings, it seems like judging the Fast and Furious franchise on how well it adheres to its familial tropes is the right thing to do. But before that, we must ask, what are these values that govern Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang of adrenaline junkies? Well, after doing some very in-depth research into the world that started off as an exaggerated version of Point Break and then evolved into heists taking place in space, I think that these are the parameters.
First, the characters have to go above and beyond for their blood relatives and extended family. Second, there needs to be a barbecue brunch because nothing screams family more than barbecue in the backyard. Third, family has to be the topmost priority for the character, even if it’s being used to manipulate them. And bonus points for featuring scenes where the characters exude love for their family, verbally or non-verbally.
All clear? Then let The Fast Saga list commence.
1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
It was the first entry in the franchise with probably no plans of turning into the billion dollar mammoth that it is today. Hence, director Rob Cohen and writers Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist and David Ayer were more interested in building the world around Toretto and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker); and crafting some of the most ridiculous practical stunts the world had laid its eyes upon.[tabs] [tab title=”Article” icon=”iconic-info”]Paul Walker’s Life: Everything Fan Should Know[/tab] [/tabs]
But while doing so, they did sow the seeds of the now famous “family” memes by making the central conflict between two families (Dom and Tran’s), and focusing on Dom’s habit of treating Brian like a brother and inducting him into the crew. Then, having a heart-to-heart between Dom and Brian about Dom’s father and the Dodge Charger. And topping it all off with a dinner scene set in the backyard. In fact, the movie ends with the end of the Tran bloodline and the beginning of Toretto’s. So, who is up for a sequel centered on the rise of Tran’s clan? I am sure Rick Yune will happily reprise the role as he still looks the part.
Stream it on HULU
2. Furious 7 (2015)
The plot for the James Wan directorial was set into motion after Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) decided to avenge his brother, Owen (Luke Evans), by taking apart Dom’s extended family. Please don’t ask how Owen survived the plane crash and Gisele (Gal Gadot) didn’t. Coming back to the topic at hand, the family was expanded via Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian’s second child and Hobbs’s (Dwayne Johnson) daughter.
There were multiple scenes showing Brian’s struggle of choosing family over being “fast and furious” (with the decision often being aided by a loud explosion), while Dom highlighted how it takes way more courage to be a family man than dodging bullets or jumping out of a plane in a car. Dom headed into battle in his father’s car. And Dom was clearly resurrected after getting crushed by a multistoried parking lot with the power of familial love.
Jokes apart though, Brian revving up his mini-van like he is about to start to race, only for a wide-shot to reveal that he’s trying to secure a parking spot, and then proceeding to struggle with the button that’ll open the back door, was great and perfectly encapsulated his dilemma.[tabs] [tab title=”Read More” icon=”iconic-info”]Wonder Woman (2017): Why The DC Film Worked Among Other Failures[/tab] [/tabs]
3. Fast Five (2011)
I think we can all agree that the franchise in general peaked with this entry. It looked good. Hobbs actually felt like an intimidating as well as annoying antagonist. If Dwayne ever decides to come back to the franchise, I hope they bring back the rawness of Hobbs. And it won’t be a stretch to say that no other action movie has topped the final vault extraction chase. In addition to all that, Justin Lin and Chris Morgan managed to check almost all of the boxes required to make it a family affair.
The first act was dedicated to re-establishing the dynamic between Brian, Dom, Mia and Vince (Matt Schulze). Although it was not very apparent then, if you watch the movie now, you will notice that it was Vince who did the heavy lifting. He went from getting a gig to help the crew earn some money to proving his loyalty to Dom, saving Mia, and then sacrificing his life.
But good guy Dom saw to it that Vince’s family doesn’t have to struggle with money problems, ever. The “family” was officially expanded with Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele, Leo (Tego Calderón) and Santos (Don Omar). And it featured what might just be the franchise’s most heartfelt moment with Dom and Brian talking about fatherhood. Actually, if you watch that conversation after Fast 9, you might sense some unintentional narrative depth into it due to the newfound knowledge about the reality of Dom and his father’s dynamic.
4. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Time has treated Tokyo Drift justly because it was and still is a great Fast and Furious movie. The plot hinged on Sean’s (Lucas Black) desire to be seen by his father as someone who can stand on his two feet. And Takashi’s (Brian Tee) urge to step out of his father’s shadow and get his uncle’s approval. The theme of finding a family among those who are not bound by blood that runs throughout the franchise was prevalent here with Sean finding a father in Han and a brother in Twinkie (Bow Wow).
That was supplemented by the fact that Neela (Nathalie Kelley) was an orphan who was picked up by Takashi’s uncle, Kamata (played by the late Sonny Chiba). And upon learning how this bond was being used to suppress her, Neela chose to shun it, thereby sending an important message about why people should severe familial ties if a past act of acceptance is being used to suppress them. The icing on the proverbial cake was Sean fixing and then driving the car that his father was building and then winning on the track that had some rich familial history.
5. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The movie opened with Dom almost dying trying to save his cousin’s – who we had never met and didn’t meet after that opening sequence – car and pride. That was followed up by some steamy time and a conversation between Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) about starting a family together.
And it was quickly turned on its head with Dom’s betrayal after he found out that he has a son with Elena (Elsa Pataky); thereby putting the Fast Fam (I am sure that is not what they are officially called) to the test in terms of upholding the family values that Dom had serenaded to them for the past eight or so years. So, when seen from Letty’s perspective, it was actually her arc from Furious 6 flipped on its head and with Dom at the center of it.
Shaw’s side of the family was significantly expanded with the introduction of Helen Mirren’s Magdalene, who coerced Deckard into helping out Dom by saving Dom’s son, thereby making him a part of the Fast Fam. And, of course, it concluded with a dinner scene against a sunset atop a building. That said, am I the only one who thinks that Helen Mirren deserves her very own Fast and Furious family. No, not with Jason Statham and Vanessa Kirby. Just her.
6. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
I admit that it is probably the worst movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. But since we are talking about family values, it deserves this spot. The McGuffin here was literally Deckard’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). Her life was on the line since after she decided to inject herself with a virus that could end mankind (anyone else find that eerily similar to Mission: Impossible 2?).
There were multiple scenes between Deckard, Hattie and Magdalene, with the conclusion suggesting a full-on Shaw family affair somewhere in the near future. There were multiple scenes with Hobbs and his daughter. And the entirety of the third act not only involved Hobbs mending the bridges with his family that he had broken by turning his father in for his criminal activities. But it was also set in Hobbs’s home turf, with the titular duo using its landscape to battle the movie’s big bad, Brixton (Idris Elba).
The movie had way too many post-credit scenes. But the only one that matters, given the rules of this list, is the one where Hobbs takes his daughter to Samoa to meet her extended family.[tabs] [tab title=”Review” icon=”iconic-info”]Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw  Review – Overwhelmingly Insipid[/tab] [/tabs]
Stream it on Netflix
7. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
The Fate of the Furious was basically the opposite of Fast and Furious 6. With regards to Letty spearheading the search for Dom’s soul in Fate of the Furious and Dom trying to bring back Letty’s memory in Fast and Furious 6. It opened with Brian becoming a father, followed by a profound speech from Dom, which really went nowhere. In my opinion, this is where the franchise started to get a little self-aware with its ‘family’ shtick.
And the conversation scene between Owen and Dom was indicative of that, where Owen properly deconstructed the fundamental flaws of Dom’s code. And how it made him easier to target (something that was eventually proven with Mia’s kidnapping). So, why does it rank so low despite having a barbeque scene at the end? Because they were doing so instead of searching every bit of that now infamous runway for Gisele! Defying the laws of physics is alright. Not going to search for one of your own is where I draw the line.
8. Fast 9 (2021)
Yes, Fast 9 has a barbeque scene. It dedicates an unhealthy amount of time to fleshing out Dom and Jakob’s (John Cena) past. The characters say ‘family’ way too many times. It features some of the most outrageous practical and VFX-driven stunts. It resurrects Han. However, the reason why it’s here in this list is because it goes against everything that Dom has ever said. Heck, it goes as far as to call Dom a hypocrite by showing us that he took away the very thing from Jakob that he has been professing to everyone i.e. family.
In addition to that, it shows us that Dom actually didn’t know a lot about his father. Since his father knew that Dom would be ‘Dom’ about it, he didn’t even confide in him a lot of times. And that shakes the very foundations of the franchise! Which is a good thing in terms of storytelling. But it clearly goes against the rules of the list that’s based on Dom’s, and by extension, the franchise’s mechanics. Does that make it a bad movie though? Absolutely not.
9. Fast and Furious (2009)
Justin Lin’s second entry in the franchise feels like a half-decent movie only in retrospect as you can feel Dom and Mia trying to give back Brian the spot that he had vacated with his betrayal. And also compensating for turning their backs on Jakob. It had one dinner scene. But that’s about it. Dom avenging Letty’s “death” was supposed to feel poignant. However, it was kind of dropped halfway through the movie to focus on the mystery behind Arturo Braga (John Ortiz)
10. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Brian and Roman refer to each other as “cousins”. Once. No family values at all!
Fast 9 is available in theatres.[posts title=’Listicles’ count=’3′ offset=” cat_name=’lists’ layout=’small-left-thumbnail-col-3′ pagination=’show’][/posts]