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.)