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Ranking Every Single Fast & Furious Movie By How Much They're Actually About Family

We know what these movies are supposedly about. But which Fast flick has the most family?

Originally Published: 
Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images, Universal Pictures

The Fast and the Furious franchise has been relentlessly mocked for its corny emphasis on family. But is this perception correct or has it been blown out of proportion? Aren’t these just action movies in which Vin Diesel occasionally talks about family? No. The idea that the Fast franchise is constantly having a conversation about the meaning of “family” has definitely not been exaggerated. These movies are positively obsessed with mi familia. While what is meant by “family” shifts around a bit in all the Fast and Furious films, it is this guiding principle that elevates these hyperbolic, often cartoony action flicks into something special, and dare we say it, important.

Ranking the Fast films by any metric other than the theme of family would be bonkers. But which of these movies has the MOST family? We watched all eleven movies in the series (including the 2019 spin-off Hobbs and Shaw) and ranked them by the only measure that counts: the importance of family. We accomplished this on a scale of zero to ten Coronas; the preferred beverage of big daddy Dom, Vin Diesel himself. Strap in, things are about to get fast, furious, and curiously tender.

11. Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Premise: When a robotically enhanced super-soldier played by Idris Elba threatens to unleash a deadly virus that would specifically target the weak and vulnerable, the CIA recruits Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw to stop them.

Family element: Hobbs & Shaw is heavy on family of the traditional variety. Helen Mirren plays Deckard’s sly criminal genius of a mother while Vanessa Kirby joins the franchise as Deckard’s super-spy sister, an MI6 agent carrying the deadly virus in her body. Later the action moves to Samoa so that Hobbs can reconnect with his family and his roots. Hobbs and Shaw may spend the entirety of their titular vehicle squabbling like little boys but by the end, they’re earnestly calling each other brother.

Family talk: Deckard gives his younger sister a pep talk: “Remember who we are, the Shaw family! We never, never, never give up!

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Two. While it’s true that the film deals extensively with the families of both of the leads, if the franchise has proven anything, it’s that biological families are no match for surrogate families led by a tough yet tender drag racer with a heart of gold.

Hobbs and Shaw is available for rental on YouTube and elsewhere.

10. Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2005)

Premise: Speed-crazed American teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is sent to Tokyo to live with his father after smashing up yet another car. In Japan, the cocky Southerner discovers the glamorous world of “drifting,” a flashy form of driving that connects him with wisecracking hustler Twinkie (Shad Moss, then known as Bow Wow) and Han Lue (Sung Sang), a laconic drifting expert who is business partners with Sean’s biggest rival Takashi (Brian Tee), a hotshot driver known as D.K. for “Drift King.”

Family element: Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift travels even further than 2 Fast and Furious from The Fast and the Furious thematically as well as geographically. This feels deeply off-brand for much of its duration but pulls it together at the end with a pandering yet effective cameo from a certain Corona-drinking, family-loving fan favorite from the first movie. Dom (Vin Diesel) climactically professes to be “family” with Han, who confusingly would become a beloved part of the Fast and the Furious family despite seemingly dying in a fiery wreck here. Sean and Twinkie popped up in F9 but they’re distant family members at best, like the cousins of Bo and Luke who took center stage when the real stars of Dukes of Hazard wanted too much money.

Family talk: Sean tries and fails to impress his future girlfriend Neela (Nathalie Kelley) by guessing, incorrectly, that she’s a military brat who found “family” in the Tokyo drifting community, only to be told that he’s wrong. Later, Twinkie tells Sean that someone wants to race him who not only knows Han but considers him “family.” And again: Dom Toretto pops up in the final minutes of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in an unsuccessful attempt to make it more on-brand.

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Three. Bringing in Big Daddy Dom at the very end feels like a cheat but it’s also this entry’s only real connection to the franchise’s central family.

Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift is streaming on Netflix.

9. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Premise: The Fast and the Furious was so successful that it made breakout star Vin Diesel too big to return for a sequel. So the focus was pragmatically shifted to Walker's less charismatic ex-cop. 2 Fast 2 Furious is a proudly cheesy 1980s-style throwback mismatched buddy action-comedy pairing Brian with childhood friend turned adult nemesis Roman (Tyrese Gibson) to bring down generic drug lord Carter Verone (second generation ham Cole Hauser).

Family Element: Can you have a proper Fast and the Furious family without Big Daddy Dom? The subpar, off-brand 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious suggests that the answer is no. Brian and Roman fight like brothers joke like brothers and love like brothers but they also often seem on the verge of making out in a decidedly un-brotherly fashion.

Family talk: None. There’s no talk of families or brotherhood or family barbecues or even Corona consumption. If it wasn’t for all the cars and near-nudity it’d be easy to forget this is even a Fast and the Furious movie.

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Three. 2 Fast 2 Furious introduces characters who would become integral parts of The Fast & the Furious family like Ludacris’ laid-back tech guy Tej and Tyrese Gibson’s hot-headed Roman but they wouldn’t become a makeshift family until later in the series.

2 Fast 2 Furious is streaming on Netflix.

8. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Premise: Baby-faced police officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) goes undercover to infiltrate the sexy, high stakes, and dangerous world of illegal street racing in order to bust a ring of daredevil semi-hijackings masterminded by tough yet gentle speed demon/family man Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). It all started here.

Family Element: From the beginning, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto runs his crew of drag-racing street criminals/DVD player thieves like a family. He holds family barbecues where revelers are free to drink everything they’d like as long as it’s Corona, runs a family business with his sister Mia (Jordanna Brewster), and talks lovingly of the father who got him into cars and also indirectly made him a violent felon. Dom forms a brotherly bond with Brian without knowing his secret and is a father AND older brother figure to his crew, all of whom look up to him.

Family Talk: In a real missed opportunity, when Brian asks Mia how Dom’s gang began she corrects him and tells him that “gang” is most assuredly NOT the correct term for her brother’s tight-knit squad because they’re not a gang: they’re a team. The word “family” was right there, waiting to be abused. Instead, Mia non-iconically describes her brother’s posse as a team.

Dom is NOT the first person in the franchise to discuss family. Instead, that honor belongs to Silence of the Lambs’ Ted Levine, who plays a law enforcement colleague of Brian’s who responds to the undercover cop saying that Dom won’t go back to prison with, “There’s all kinds of family, Brian. And that’s a choice you’re going to have to make.”

Brian ultimately chooses his criminal family over his law enforcement family and we never stop hearing about how damn important family is. Also, the family soon stops being criminals and begins stopping flagrant law-breakers.

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Five. Though not as family-centric as later entries The Fast and the Furious indelibly establishes family as a central theme.

The original 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious, is streaming on Netflix.

7. Fast & Furious (2009)

Premise: It’s family reunion time, baby! After skipping 2 Fast 2 Furious and nearly all of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Dom (Vin Diesel) is back alongside frenemy Brian as the action moves back to the West Coast of the United States. This time around Dom deals with the “death” of girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) by assisting Brian in taking down Fenix Calderon, the ruthless heroin kingpin responsible for her ostensible murder.

Family element: Director Justin Lin — who helmed Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and would later direct Star Trek Beyond in 2016 — brings his buddy Sung Kang’s Han Lue back into the fold and solidifies Han’s place in the Fast and the Furious family. More importantly, Dom returns to act as Brian’s ally in the war on drugs. The two aren’t just friends or allies: they’re brothers. “Family,” even.

Family talk: While enjoying a family dinner, Dom, Brian, and Mia toast to family as well as friendship and food, and when Brian compliments Mia for being a good sister to her fugitive brother she responds, “He’s family. Of course.” In The Fast and the Furious, family doesn’t just refer to adversaries and allies in the street racing and car-jacking scenes: they sometimes refer to blood relatives as well!

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Five. Fast & Furious takes the major, even franchise-saving step of bringing back Vin Diesel’s Big Daddy for a whole film, not just a cameo, but Fast family wasn’t quite the hilarious cliche in 2009 that it would eventually become.

Fast and Furious (2009) is streaming on Netflix.

6. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

Premise: Dwayne Johnson’s Shaw, who went from a foe in the last film to family here, offers pardons for Dom, Brian, and their tight-knit and ever-growing family if they’ll bring down a criminal organization run by ruthless mercenary Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Family proves stronger than death when Letty, Dom’s soulmate, returns from the great beyond via the magic of amnesia and one of the franchise’s many fake deaths.

Family element: The movie opens with the birth of Jack, Brian, and Mia’s son and Dom’s nephew. It’s an appropriate beginning for a sequel full of families of the surrogate, criminal, and biological variety.

This family-obsessed sequel closes by returning to the theme of different types of family when Dom’s fed girlfriend Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) graciously accepts being replaced by Letty in Dom’s bed and his heart by saying that Dom’s soulmate is his family while the law enforcement community is hers.

Family talk: The Fast and the Furious closes, appropriately enough, with the family reverently joining hands at a family barbecue for a family prayer led by Roman paying tribute to family and baby Jack, “the newest addition to our family.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Eight. By this point, the series lustily embraced cartoonish self-parody. That extends to referencing family so often that if you were to do a shot every time the word family is uttered you’d risk alcohol poisoning by the film’s end.

Fast and Furious 6 is available for rental on YouTube and elsewhere.

5. Fast X (2023)

Premise: The family faces their deadliest threat since the previous film when Dante (Jason Momoa), the flamboyantly evil son of Hernan Reyes, a drug dealer the team took down in Fast 5, targets Dom and his team for revenge. With Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody gone Aimes (Alan Ritchson), the nefarious new leader of the DSS, has framed the family as international terrorists and devoted the resources of his agency to hunting them down.

Family element: Fast X adds several new members to the family, including a pair of Oscar winners in Rita Moreno as Dom’s mom and Brie Larson’s Tess, the dutiful daughter of Mr. Nobody as well as Daniela Melchior as Isabel Neves, the street-racing bad girl sister of Elena Neves, the late mother of Dom’s child Li’l B and Dom’s onetime girlfriend. It also brings back John Cena as Dom’s no longer evil brother Jakob, who is now a fun uncle to Li’l B and firmly on the side of good.

Family talk: Dom bluntly summarizes the movie’s eminently predictable message when he angrily rasps to Dante, who has complained that Dom took away what little family he had, "You got no honor. Without honor, you got no family. And without family, you’ve got nothing.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Eight. It would be nearly impossible for the series to stress the importance of family more without speeding even further into delirious, enjoyable self-parody.

FAST X is currently available for rental on YouTube and elsewhere. FAST X will hit Peacock on September 15, 2023.

4. Fast Five (2011)

Premise: Dominic Toretto and ex-cop Brian O’Conner put together an elite team to bring down evil Brazilian drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) by stealing a massive safe full of ill-gotten loot he has stashed in police headquarters. The family’s daring deeds attract the attention of bullet-headed tough guy Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a Diplomatic Security Service agent who always gets his man and has made Dom, Brian, and their family his next target.

Family element: Fast Five drives home the importance of family to the franchise. The scenes of Dom hosting a family barbecue and toasting his friends are as iconic and important to the series as any automotive set-piece. It’s that emotional element that has allowed the Fast and the Furious franchise to transcend their modest origins and become an international pop culture phenomenon.

Family talk: About half of the dialogue between Dom and returning family member Vince (Matt Schulze) is family-themed. When Vince asks to join the team on a big heist Dom smiles that warm, paternal smile and says, “You were always my brother.” When Vince dies Dom sends Vince’s share to his widow and baby with a note indicating it’s from “Uncle Dom.” But the most important family talk is a toast where Dom tells his family, “Money will come and go. We know that. But the most important thing in life will always be the people in this room. Right here. Right now. Salud mi familia.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Nine. Fast Five feels like the sequel where the franchise found itself. This extends to an intense emphasis on family that’s surprisingly powerful.


3. F9 (2021)

Premise: With Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw off having the side-adventures — chronicled in 2019's Hobbs & Shaw — the focus shifts to Dom’s tortured family history involving a racer dad who died in a spectacular car crash and the super-villainous Jakob, an evil brother played by John Cena with his own private army and the requisite aspirations towards world domination.

Family Element: The Fast & Furious franchise keeps finding new angles on family. In Fast 9 the primary family is not Dom’s surrogate family of racers or even the Shaw family of colorful criminals but rather Dom’s biological family. Fast 9 is essentially Fast & Furious Presents: The Toretto Saga since it pits Dom against his estranged brother in a story with copious flashbacks to the young Dom and Jakob’s life with their doomed, ultimately tragic racer father.

Family Talk: Helen Mirren’s Queenie sums up the film’s theme when she tells Dom, “Nothing is more powerful than the love of family but if you turn that into anger and resentment, nothing’s more dangerous.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Nine. Family remains the emotional core of the franchise. Fast 9 brings back the stars of Tokyo Drift and the previously dead Han (Sung Kang) because they’re not just minor characters in a sprawling cinematic saga: they’re family.


2. Furious 7 (2015)

Premise: The family is recruited by mysterious government operative Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to track down a uniquely powerful surveillance device known as God’s Eye designed by master computer hacker/bikini wearer Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). To find the MacGuffin they’ll need to avoid being murdered by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), an international mercenary out for revenge after the family put his brother Owen in the hospital in the previous film; Fast & Furious 6.

Family element: It’s family versus family when Deckard enters the fray seeking vengeance for his brother. Meanwhile, Dom, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of the family seek revenge for Han’s ostensible death at the end of Fast 6.

Those aren’t the only family elements at play. Brian and his wife/Dom’s sister Mia (Jordanna Brewster) welcome another child, Brian tries to adjust to family life as a minivan dad and we learn that Dom and soulmate Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are married.

Family talk: Furious 7 contains perhaps the series’ most iconic family talk. When Statham’s Shaw asks his Dom if he’s familiar with the idea that the enemy of your enemy is your friend Dom legendarily answers, “I don’t have friends. I got family.”

F7 ends with an oblique but moving elegy for Paul Walker, who died in a car crash before the film was released. The movie ends, inevitably, with Dom telling the gone but not forgotten Brian, "You'll always be my brother.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Ten. FURIOUS 7 represents the apex of the franchise, the sequel where everything came together. That extends to its treatment of family, which is intense and pervasive but also natural and organic.


1. Fate of the Furious (2017)

Premise: In the seventh sequel to 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, the unthinkable happens: Dom goes against the family. But he has a good reason: Cipher (Charlize Theron), the world’s greatest hacker, has kidnapped his baby boy Li’l B along with the boy’s mother and is threatening to put bullets in their brains unless Dom does everything she says.

Family element: From the first frame to the obligatory film-ending celebratory barbecue and toast to familia, Fate of the Furious is obsessed with family. There’s Dom’s surrogate family of drag racers turned world-savers of course as well as a comic interlude at Hobbs’ daughter’s soccer game. Oscar-winner Helen Mirren joins the cast as the mother of Deckard (Statham) and Owen (Luke Evans) so she can implore Deckard to bust his brother out of jail and take him along on a mission because he’s family and “our family don’t die in bloody cages!”

Family Talk: Dom is as famous for his oft-stated dedication to family within the world of Fate of the Furious as he is in our world. Cipher knows this and uses it against him. “You’re going to work for me. You’re gonna betray your brothers, abandon your code, and shatter your family.” Cipher taunts. She later follows it up with, “The idea of family that is so core with you, that rules your world, is a biological lie.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 Coronas, how important is family to the story?

Ten. Fate of the Furious thinks that if bigger is better, then biggest is best. That extends to the enormous amount of dialogue about the importance of family.


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