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.