The "Fast and Furious" franchise has made its mark with crazy car races, epic fisticuffs, super-macho male egos and scantily clad women dancing seductively in slo-mo before the next crazy car race begins. But since 2001’s "The Fast and the Furious" introduced Vin Diesel’s street tough Dominic Toretto and the late Paul Walker’s cop/criminal/family man Brian O’Conner, the series of action flicks has shifted gears to being a tried-and-true cinematic saga over nine films (and one muscular spy spinoff).
Directed by Justin Lin, the newest film "F9" (in theaters now) introduces a family feud into the mix, as Dom and Co. race to find the pieces of a high-tech device that, in the wrong hands, could threaten the world. The other guy in hot pursuit: Jakob Toretto (John Cena), Dom's forsaken little brother who's also a rogue superspy with some serious skills.
The parade of nutty stuff the series has pulled off is obvious. But how do the films rank as actual movies and not just stunt extravaganzas? Let’s get fast and furious in breaking them down:
10. '2 Fast 2 Furious' (2003)
The first "Fast" film with no Diesel, it would be the worst regardless, but "2 Fast" is a pretty terrible movie. It’s like a bad two-hour episode of "Thunder in Paradise" in which Brian and childhood frenemy Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) team up to take down a Miami drug lord. Probably a small miracle this didn’t kill the property dead.
9. 'The Fast and the Furious' (2001)
Average action, poor visual effects and a weak plot don’t help the series opener. Yet this four-wheeled take on "Point Break" is at least watchable thanks to the inexplicable chemistry between Dom and Brian, who’d rather not believe that his new hot-rodding svengali is responsible for jacking truckers. (He totally is.)
8. 'The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift' (2006)
The third film exists as novelty in that it takes the racing scene to Japan and centers on teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) getting into trouble with gangsters in Tokyo. Embrace the surprisingly deep Daniel/Mr. Miyagi dynamic with Sean and Han Lue (Sung Kang) and try to forget the fact that its lead character may be the worst driver ever.
7. 'Fast & Furious' (2009)
Maybe it was the ampersand. But for anybody needing to reboot a franchise the right way, here’s your template: The fourth installment killed off a main character (at least for a couple of films), began to embrace the extreme camp and focus on family that would be franchise hallmarks, but brought back the simple magic of Dom and Brian getting fast and furious.
6. 'Hobbs & Shaw' (2019)
The mutual dislike (and begrudging respect) between the title butt-kickers – buff lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and shady merc Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) – is the appeal of this mashup of secret-agent intrigue and old-school slugfests, though the secret sauce is the addition of Shaw's cool-as-a-cucumber younger sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). Although the spinoff doesn't know if it wants to be "Furious" or "Mission: Impossible," at least it has plenty of things that go kablooey.
5. 'F9' (2021)
Einstein, Newton and Galileo are all rolling their eyes in their graves as Diesel once and for all takes a bazooka to every law of physics. The action is big, loud and ridiculous as Dom's crew has to protect the globe once again (this time with really powerful magnets), Charlize Theron cements herself as the franchise's best big bad as hacker queen Cipher, and Helen Mirren (as the Shaw family's criminal matriarch) proves herself a four-wheel hellion, too. It's absolutely absurd but cool points for doing it this proudly.
4. 'The Fate of the Furious' (2017)
Who needs James Bond when we have an American crew of world-saving antiheroes who are weirdly good at spec-ops missions? When Dom turns bad in the eighth film and teams up with Cipher (for good reason, though!), his pal Hobbs takes the lead in bringing them down. Yes, it's ridiculously silly, but there's no denying the appeal of giant wrecking balls taking out a highway of cars and a Dodge Charger taking on a Russian nuclear submarine.
3. 'Fast & Furious 6' (2013)
After so many boys and their toys, No. 6 was noteworthy for letting the women take the wheel. Amid a globetrotting adventure that saw our favorite outlaws take on international supervillain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) – and Dom jumping off a tank on a highway – Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) gets a pair of great fight scenes with Shaw’s imposing No. 2 (mixed martial artist Gina Carano).
2. 'Furious 7' (2015)
Some heady themes come to the fore along with the spectacle: The checkered past of Dom’s crew comes back to haunt them in the form of Owen Shaw’s dangerous big bro Deckard, and Brian weighs his growing family vs. an adrenaline-fueled life. The seventh movie also offers a tear-jerking tribute to Walker as Brian rides off into the sunset and his buddy Dom races into the future.
1. 'Fast Five' (2011)
Johnson was the muscular jump-start that the "Furious" series was sorely missing, giving Dom a powerhouse authority figure who could match him punch for punch, testosterone-laden stare to testosterone-laden stare. But the fifth film is also the most fun for "Fast" diehards as well as newcomers: It crafts a high-stakes global adventure that nicely ties together (and expands) the mythology.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'F9': All the 'Fast and Furious' films, ranked worst to best