All of the ‘Fast & Furious’ Movies Ranked in Terms of Plausibility

all-of-the-‘fast-&-furious’-movies-ranked-in-terms-of-plausibility

The Fast & Furious franchise sped past reality a long time ago, but with the release of each new film comes an opportunity to  take stock of how far the series has come (from reality).  What started with Dominic Toretto and his gang boosting trucks for DVD players saw, in the last film, a Pontiac Fiero flying through outer space. Ever since Fast Five repositioned the Toretto family as quasi secret agents with superheroic abilities to defy gravity, the franchise has seemingly forced itself  to ratchet up the ridiculousness a little with each new film. 

How did we get here, and what were the pivotal turning points? Your mileage may vary about when the series jumped the shark (or the skyscraper), which stunt was the best and which was the silliest, but now that we’re ten films in with Fast X (eleven, counting Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s Hobbs and Shaw spin-off), a more important question has emerged: which movie in the series stacks up, top to bottom, as the most insane?

GQ is looking at the most reality-bending films of the main Fast and Furious franchise and counting down to the most realism-defying film.

10. The Fast and The Furious, 2001

Point Break with cars” was the pitch for the OG installment—and in hindsight, The Fast and The Furious, feels like cinema verité compared to what would come later. The craziest things get in the first installment is the concluding sequence, which sees Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) try to outrace a train. Even then, it all feels vaguely  plausible. Things don’t stay that way for long. 

9. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, 2006

Sneakily one of the best entries in the franchise, Tokyo Drift is notable for bringing director Justin Lin to the table, who quickly becomes both a steady hand and the defining voice on the series outside of Diesel (whose involvement, some might argue, should probably be scaled back). While Lin is directly responsible for the soon-to-come escalating absurdity, you won’t find much of that in Drift. A lot of its most improbable moments could be characterized as stylistic flourishes: the initial parking garage drift sequence and DK’s razor-thin clearance are just cool, as is the Shibuya Crossing drift. Arguably the most unbelievable thing in Drift is that star Lucas Black, who was 24 at the time of release (and looks it), was supposed to be a high-schooler.

8***. 2 Fast 2 Furious, 2003***

The origins of the Fast franchise’s shift into absurdity begin, albeit subtly, in 2 Fast 2 Furious, wherein the late great director John Singleton, draws inspiration from the country-fried, backroads exploits of the Duke boys by launching Brian and Roman’s 1969 Camaro off a dock and into the back of a multi-million dollar yacht. A behind-the-scenes look at  the stunt shows only one sequence of green screen work, with most of it being practical stunt work, later stitched together in post. While the length of the jump ultimately defies reality, there’s a smidge of I bet this could happen in real life still at play.

7. Fast Five, 2011

Justin Lin’s third installment in Fast-world is frequently cited as the best movie of the franchise and is genuinely a solid action blockbuster. It’s also the pivot point, in which the series rebooted itself as a more straightforward, mega-budget action series, which naturally requires breaking a few laws of physics. Lin wastes no time doing so, with an opening sequence in which Brian jumps off a moving train onto a moving car. Later he and Dom plummet into the water together after they drive off a cliff, a sequence which begins with a car crashing into said train. The infamous vault heist finale, in which the guys drag a bank fault through the streets and highways of Rio attached to their cars, strains believability in its intricacy, but remains deliciously entertaining at least partly due to its tenuous connection to the plausible. In fact the real stunt comprises several techniques, including building a functioning car inside the vault casing.

6. The Fate of the Furious, 2017

The Fate of the Furious is arguably the point in the series where it starts to hit diminishing returns, with stunts that feel like karaoke versions of what’s come before. Two moments of inspired craziness stand out: first, the so-called Zombie Cars sequence, where Charlize Theron’s villainous Cypher sends a bunch of driverless whips after the Toretto gang—remote controlling dozens of vehicles simultaneously in a bit that’s closer to science fiction than an action shoot-em-up. Meanwhile, the finale is built around an actual submarine, which feels like a redux of the mine chase from Fast & Furious (more on that later), though it comes with an insane capper in which Dom air drifts his car into and around the top of the sub to avoid a missile. At another point, The Rock also stops a torpedo skidding across the ice with his bare hands. Sure, yeah. That works.

 5. Fast X, 2023

Fast X has been widely cited as evidence that this Fast project is finally out of gas. It’s hard to argue based on the amount of reality-breaking moments, which happen so frequently that they start to lose even novelty value.. Dom using his car as a pinball flipper to knock a rolling bomb into the water? Old hat. Jakob (John Cena) turning a kayak into a plane? I guess a spy agency could make that work. Dom using a car door as a shield against gatling gun fire? Sure. The only stunt approaching inspired is the closing bit where Dom and his son drive the famed Dodge Charger down a dam. But even then, the CGI-rendered action feels lifeless and inert.

4. Fast & Furious, 2009

Fast Five gets its rightful credit for driving the franchise headlong into an action series. But if you were paying attention, there were clues where this franchise was headed as far back as Fast & Furious. Released after the underrated Tokyo Drift but chronologically taking place before it Fast & Furious functions as a soft reboot, reuniting viewers with Dom and the rest of the family as they continue to heist, with Brian hot on their trail. Arguably the most dour film in the franchise, it does lay the foundation for the absurdity later films would fully embrace. To wit, Dom gets shot in the shoulder and shrugs it off like Superman. That’s to say nothing of him getting omnipresence when reviewing Letty’s car crash, piecing together the crime scene with picture-perfect recall like he’s the world’s greatest detective. 

But the real turning point is the mine chase, which strains credulity that an area would be this specifically suited to the events transpiring. The gang is out in the desert and just so happens to find an abandoned mine that’s got 1) a big enough opening to drive a car through it, 2) is then wide enough inside to fit two cars, and 3) is structurally sound enough not to collapse upon itself until just the right moment. While it’s more of a nitpick than anything, it’s a bit silly. Cool idea for a sequence, though.

3. Fast & Furious 6, 2013

While much is made about the climax of Fast & Furious 6, which finds the gang battling on a runaway plane on what must be the longest runway ever constructed, the “tank jump” in the middle of the film would seem to be when the creative minds behind the series decided the Toretto family are superheroes. After a tank is released onto a busy highway, both Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Dom leap off of their respective vehicles and into midair, where Dom manages to not only effortlessly catch Letty but then also to reposition himself in order to land on the front window of another vehicle, only cracking the windshield—and zero bones–in the process. It’s a narratively unnecessary moment that admittedly looks kind of cool, but is immediately undercut by its utter impossibility.

2. Fast 9, 2021

Justin Lin’s return to the Fast saga after a few years away brings with it another radical departure from reality–in the form of two sequences that bookend the film: Dom becoming Tarzan as they careen a car into a rope and swing across a ravine, and the much-anticipated (and much joked about) Fiero ride through space. The latter is obviously laughable, and seems intended at least partly as a joke, but even so, Lin swears he conferred with actual NASA scientists to ensure that the set piece was logically sound.

1. Furious 7, 2015

2015’s Furious 7 is the inflection point of absurdity, officially shifting gears into the “Family” becoming quasi-invulnerable superheroes in everything but name. Whether it’s parachuting cars, Brian running up the side of a bus in a pair of absolutely tractionless Vans Sk8 sneakers, Dom managing to navigate his Charger through a collapsing garage and then fly it into the air and attach a satchel of grenades to a helicopter, or Brian and Dom piloting a Lykan HyperSport between each of the Etihad Towers, Furious 7 takes things to an entirely different level. The HyperSport jump is a particularly apt metaphor; as it lands in the final tower, the car slides around and destroys terracotta soldiers before Dom and Brian bail, metaphorically acknowledging that any bit of reality is now officially broken history. Jumping the shark? That’s child’s

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