Editor’s note: This list was updated in May 2023 to include Fast X, the latest installment.
“I don’t have friends. I got family.”
For the vast majority of the Fast and the Furious franchise’s twenty-year-plus lifespan, one overriding ethos has dominated the series even more than its love of tricked-out imported street cars: The physics-defying, bone-deep earnest love of family. (Or, as series star Vin Diesel so frequently rumbles, fambly.)
In the Fast movies, having a family and a code by which to honor them is the most powerful force on Earth. It can defy the laws of governments as much as it can the laws of physics; it can even restore memory and bring back the dead. It can turn your most sworn enemy into your dearest comrade. And most of all, it can make Corona Lites palatable.
So it’s high time to look back at the franchise’s rocky, gear-shifting history to see how those family ties have resonated throughout the series. In doing so, we’ve ordered the films along the subjective, unexplainable bonds of family that have kept the franchise’s acutely sincere sensibilities alive through two decades of flipped vehicles and the untimely loss of one of its major stars.
Crack open a Corona, say grace before the barbecue table, and slide into the passenger’s seat as we take you on a road tour of the Toretto clan’s history, ordered from best to worst. We also drift through each entry’s most destructive setpieces, the number of times they say the sacred F-word, and, of course, the moments Dom’s favorite piss-beer makes its presence known.
— Clint Worthington
11. Fast & Furious (2009)
The Starting Line: Five years after the events of The Fast and the Furious, Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner are thrust into each others’ orbit once again after the (apparent) death of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. Begrudgingly, the two join forces to avenge her demise, kicking off a chain reaction of events that would lead to the Fast Familia we now know.
Corona Count: After a brief dry spell, Coronas are reintroduced to the series as Dom and Brian reconnect in a nightclub, sipping Coronas and playing undercover with the film’s villain.
Collateral Damage: The film’s best (read: only great) scene is its killer opener, in which a baby version of Dom’s team (including Han, Leo, Santos, and Letty) raid a gas truck in Mexico, only to have to outrun it when it spirals out of control down a winding cliffside road. The rest of the movie doesn’t match those thrills, but it’s a neat preview of the physics-defying madness to come.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 2
Salud, Mi Familia: Easily the worst entry in the series, 2009’s Fast & Furious had one goal in mind: course-correct the franchise’s awkward semi-spinoff phase by bringing back the old cast and playing the hits. In many ways, it feels like a transitional film between the Fasts that were and the Furious exploits to come. But in having to offer a soft reboot of the series, it sputters a bit between gears, with a slow pace and the frustrating death of Letty early in the film. (Don’t worry, she gets better.) It’s nice to see Dom and Brian rekindle their bond, but as family affairs go, the dinner table is still pretty empty here.
10. The Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
The Starting Line: DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and international assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) begrudgingly join forces to save Deckard’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) from a deadly virus coveted by cyber-enhanced baddie Brixton (Idris Elba).
Corona Count: No Dom, no Coronas. Instead, we get Shaw drinking an unspecified lager at a bar, and a whole bunch of whiskey (as well as a weaponized bottle of champagne).
Collateral Damage: An entire facility in Ukraine is destroyed by Hobbs and Shaw; it’s big and impressive, but pretty grey and lifeless as an action sequence.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 11
Salud, Mi Familia: While Hobbs & Shaw isn’t about the Toretto crew per se, the David Leitch-directed spinoff still has oodles of family matters sprinkled throughout. Where the Toretto gang is a mostly-found family, Hobbs and Shaw spend this adventure reconciling with their biological kin: The former with the Samoan family he left behind to go to America, the latter with his estranged sister. Those elements clash with a spinoff that lacks the boneheaded heart of the prime films, but it’s at least conceptually family-oriented, and thus gets points for that.
09. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The Starting Line: The firmly-entrenched Fast Fambly begins to fracture, as Dom gets coerced into betraying the team by cagey cyber-hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron). That leaves the fragmented crew little choice but to team up with their greatest enemy, Deckard Shaw, to stop Cipher’s plans to start a nuclear war — and hopefully, save Dom’s soul in the process.
Corona Count: Zero this time — no idea what happened here, maybe their Corona deal fell through? (Though screenwriter Chris Morgan claims their Corona infatuation is all for the love of the game.)
Collateral Damage: The Rock catches a nuclear missile and steers it back towards the submarine that fired it. Enough said.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 16
Salud, Mi Familia: Ostensibly, this one deals with the concept of family more than many of the other films in the franchise — what happens when the family patriarch is forced to turn against those he loves? But the results are pretty shaky, the series succumbing to excess and contrivance even for a Fast and Furious movie, which is saying something. Plus, the introduction of Deckard Shaw into the family feels egregious, given what (we thought) he did to Han in Tokyo Drift. (Not to mention the off-screen feud between Diesel and Johnson makes this one awkward, considering you never believe they’re in the same room for any of their scenes together.)
08. F9: The Fast Saga (2021)
The Starting Line: Dom, Letty, and the rest of the crew are pulled back into the fight with the disappearance of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and the theft of a device that could hack into any computer system. What’s more, the person responsible is Dom’s estranged brother Jakob (John Cena), who (naturally) has grown into a bad-guy superspy in the absence of his family.
Corona Count: Corona makes a comeback in a few vital scenes; most notably, there’s a reunion between Dom and his dad’s old mechanic buddy named, well, Buddy (Michael Rooker), who hands him a cold one before they reconnect.
Collateral Damage: Sure, the team tears up Tblisi with an armored truck at the same time Roman and Tej go to outer space, but we’re giving the most destructive scene to the Indiana Jones-esque opener, in which Toretto et al. are chased by Central American militants through a mine-filled forest, culminating in Dom and Letty swinging their car to safety with the remnants of a rope bridge.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 5, to our best recollection after one viewing in theaters.
Salud, Mi Familia: At this point, the Fast Family is almost too big for its own good — no one ever dies, no one ever stays dead, and even old forgotten side characters get rolled into the crew for old time’s sake. This one explores more of Dom’s backstory, with grainy flashbacks to the death of Dom’s father and the estrangement of black-sheep brother Jakob. But the dynamics get complicated when you remember that Mia is technically related to Jakob too; where is their reconciliation moment? When your family is so big you have to split them up in three or four different adventures in your middle act just to give everyone focus, it’s time to cut your Christmas card list down a tidge. (And don’t even get us started on the explanation for Han’s resurrection, which is either too much or not nearly enough.)
07. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2006)
The Starting Line: Fleeing to Miami after letting Dom go at the end of the first Fast, Brian sets himself up as an illegal street racer. But when the FBI drags him into an undercover scheme to take down drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), Brian is forced to turn to the only other person he trusts to get the job done — his motormouthed childhood friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson).
Corona Count: Again — no Dom, no Coronas.
Collateral Damage: The stakes on this one are decidedly Burn Notice, so the most spectacular, destructive stunt we really see is Brian and Roman’s death-defying act of ramping their muscle car into the yacht Verone is escaping on. Eject-o seat-o, cuz!
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 0 (though between Brian and Roma, we get “cuz” four times, and “bro/bruh” eighteen times)
Salud, Mi Familia: 2 Fast suffers the same fate as many of the other early entries: the Dieselian notion of familia hadn’t yet been established, nor the overall direction of the series. Plus, with Diesel sitting this entry out, director John Singleton turned this one into a bold, bright, adorably silly Miami Vice riff with Tyrese, Eva Mendes, and a whole garage of candy-coated sports cars. It strays the furthest from the assignment of any of these movies, but it’s still a boatload of stupid fun, and Walker and Tyrese bicker like an old married couple. What more do you want?
06. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Starting Line: In a very 2006 version of 2013 (complete with Nokia flip phones and first-generation iPods), a young rebellious American teenager named Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) gets sent off to live with his father in Tokyo after getting his final strike for race-based juvenile delinquency. There, he meets up with a mysterious racer named Han (Sung Kang) and gets wrapped in the dangerous, exciting world of drift racing.
Corona Count: No Coronas to be found — Dom only shows up at the end, and the main characters are supposed to be teens, for Chrissakes! (Even though Black easily looks like he’s in his mid-20s, and the powers of time and space warp him into middle age by the time he meets Dom again in Furious 7.)
Collateral Damage: This is easily the most racing-centric entry in the series — very little action revolves around anything but the cars doing what they do. But Han getting T-Boned in the middle of downtown Tokyo still stings, even after the one-two punch soap opera punch of learning a) the car crash was an assassination, and b) Han faked his death anyways.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 2
Salud, Mi Familia: The Fast and Furious movie most removed from the primary Toretto saga (direct spinoffs aside), this one’s a charming anomaly in the history of the series. It introduces us to Han, who’d become a central part of the Prime Fast Family, as well as director Justin Lin, who would direct four other movies in the series and be generally responsible for steering the series on the right path. It’s got a lot of heart (boring, corn-fed protagonist aside), but its distance from the rest of Dom’s crew puts it low on this list.
05. Fast X (2023)
The Starting Line: After flashing back to big bad Dante (Jason Momoa)’s connection to the events of Fast Five, the family is separated and on the run as the world comes to believe they’re terrorists thanks to some high tech hacking and their involvement in a spherical bomb rampaging through the streets of Rome. (Take that, Spanish Steps!) Brace yourself for John Cena going goofball in the best way, Momoa going unhinged in the best way, Brie Larson’s incredible shoe choices, and an epic cliffhanger.
Corona Count: Oh, you’d better believe that the big family barbecue at the beginning of the film (with Abuela Rita Moreno saying grace) is not lacking Dom’s preferred elixer. Later, someone once again tries to tempt Dom with a more hoppy ale, and once again… he refuses!
Collateral Damage: I didn’t call Dante a genderqueer Bugs Bunny in my review for no reason — the almost Looney Tunes nature of the aforementioned Rome sequence, in which a giant metal ball ping-pongs down the streets and through cars and buses, is a symphony of destruction, especially since said giant metal ball is also a giant bomb, and the team has only so much time to keep it from exploding. There are other decent moments of action throughout the film, but what they do to Rome is certainly the highlight.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: Oh god, enough.
Salud, Mi Familia: There’s a lot of lip service paid to the concept of family, and how it means trying to keep the ones you love safe. However, with the characters largely split off from each other (and Dom notably the most isolated, going from solo mission to solo mission without any of his team for support), there’s a lot going on but the family vibes are lacking. That said, as the newest inductee into the gang, Cena feels like he’s always been uncle to Dom’s son Little B (Leo Abelo Perry). — Liz Shannon Miller
04. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Starting Line: Where it all started — an LAPD officer going undercover as a street racer to infiltrate Dom’s small-time gang of street-racing DVD player thieves. Oh, how far we’ve come.
Corona Count: “You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s a Corona.” The series’ love for the East-L.A. light beer begins here, littered around Dom’s house during parties and peppered along the backyard table for post-church barbecue.
Collateral Damage: The safe-dragging, sub-destroying mayhem would come later, but for now, we’ll settle for the teeth-gritting viscera of Dom’s wipeout at film’s end, after his muscle car beats Brian’s neon-red import by a hair during their last race.
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 2
Salud, Mi Familia: The one that started it all has one of the smallest and most forgettable rosters of the main family (seriously, who remembers Leon?). But the Point Break-with-cars thriller still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and plants a lot of seeds for the familia to come. Coronas, barbecue after church, saying grace, living your life a quarter mile at a time… it all starts here. It may take a few entries for that dynamic to return, but once it does, it never truly goes away.
03. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
The Starting Line: After their successful Rio heist and escape to international safe havens, Hobbs comes to Dom and the crew with an offer: help him take down international criminal mastermind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his team of super-jacked car-driving acolytes, and they get a pardon. Oh, and the chance to get back Letty, who survived her apparent death in Fast & Furious and is now an amnesiac riding with Shaw.
Corona Count: The sixth one brings the family full circle in the closing minutes, having returned to Dom’s home in East L.A. with a full pardon and a full case of Corona on hand as they sit down to say grace (“Father, we thank you for the gathering of friends… and most of all, thank you for fast cars”).
Collateral Damage: Sure, the team takes down a tank with nothing but some sports cars. But few setpieces in the series beat the action-packed climax, in which both teams throw down in and around a cargo plane taking off from the universe’s longest runway (estimates put it at 26 miles long!).
Number of Times “Family” Is Uttered: 11
Salud, Mi Familia: A lot of folks put this one further down the rankings, but if we’re talking about the Fast Family, 6 might just feature the Toretto team in peak form. It’s the one entry where both Dom and Hobbs are fundamental parts of the team from start to finish, and the whole crew gets to spend the entire film as one big happy superspy family. (It even features the family’s yearning efforts to bring back Letty as one of their own.) Not only that, but the antagonists are openly a dark mirror of Dom’s own team — one brought together by precision and convenience, rather than love and loyalty. Amid the endless airport runways and poorly-aged Gina Carano appearance, this one feels most like the family as it’s meant to be: united, driven, and virtually unstoppable.