In 1998, when up-and-coming director Rob Cohen and producer Neal H. Moritz chanced upon an article in Vibe magazine about illegal street racing in New York City, they instantly saw the potential for a Hollywood blockbuster. Whether they saw the potential for a 10-strong movie franchise with over six billion dollars in box office revenue is fanciful indeed.
But that's where we are now. Made before the Marvel Cinematic Universe when movie producers were desperate to get teenage boys into theaters, The Fast and the Furious' handsome young cast, fast cars, rip-roaring action set-pieces and a soundtrack made up of the hip-hop and nu-metal that was dominating the charts, seemed like the perfect way to do that.
Since then, the franchise has grown beyond that. Now it's a real tentpole, the kind that produces movies the senior executives at Universal Pictures talk about when they predict their earnings for years to come.
It's gone through many ups and downs: the departure and return of original star Vin Diesel, the mid-franchise arrival and subsequent departure of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, and the tragic death of Paul Walker, who'd been with the franchise since the beginning.
If you've managed to avoid the franchise, here's a brief summary of things.
Vin Diesel's Dominic Torreto is a rockstar street racer with a sideline in carjackings. Paul Walker's Brian O'Connor is a cop sent in to befriend him and take him down. From there, the movies have grown into action behemoths, with the back five feeling more like heists than anything else.
The movies star Diesel, Walker (up until Furious 7), and then, at various times, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Nathalie Emmanuel, with Cohen, Justin Lin and James Wan among the series' directors.
In all, there are 10 movies, nine in the original series and one spin-off. There are two more on the way, with the 11th, Fast X, due next year.
Ahead of that, we thought we'd have a crack at ranking them, so here goes, our definitive ranking of every Fast and Furious movie.
Obviously, there are pretty sizeable spoilers for all of the movies below, so if you don't want to know plot details, stop here.
The most recent installment in the franchise is also its weakest, with things moving very much into the nonsensical.
This movie saw the arrival of John Cena as Dominic Torreto's estranged younger brother Jakob, a man never mentioned in any of the eight previous movies that talk a lot about family, making it feel like something of a soap opera-esque turn.
Jakob teams up with Charlize Theron's Cipher to steal a device named Project Aries, which can hack into any computer-controlled system. Dom and his team are on the hunt to get it back.
The relationship between Cena and Torreto is entertaining, but the rest of the movie is quite silly and the last 40 minutes descend into the mindless. Hopefully, Fast X gets the franchise back on track.
9. The Fate of the Furious
The villains in the first tranche of Fast and Furious movies were a little like the early Marvel villains, i.e anonymous and easily forgettable. All that changed with Luke Evans in Fast Five and the franchise has gone after genuine A-listers for its baddies ever since. So, when it was announced that Oscar-winner Charlize Theron was going to try to take down Dom and his team in the eighth installment, it felt like quite a coup.
Sadly, Theron's Cipher, who gatecrashes Dom and Letty's honeymoon in Cuba with a proposition for Dom, is done a disservice by the script and she spends most of the movie sitting in a warehouse, ordering evil doings without much reasoning at all.
The movie's plot, which sees Dom mysteriously changing sides and teaming up with Cipher, is muddled and inane. Cipher and her gang of international terrorists plan to wreak havoc on the world and the crew, now led by Letty and Johnson's Luke Hobbs have to try to stop them, as well as find out what the hell has happened to Dom.
It does have a couple of corking action sequences and an epic submarine chase, but, overall, the plot is an absolute mess.
8. 2 Fast 2 Furious
After the first movie was a hit in 2001, Universal Pictures executives quickly ordered a sequel, but, by the time cameras rolled, the movie had lost both its star and director.
Despite being offered a whopping $25 million to appear in the sequel, Vin Diesel said no, and director Rob Cohen was replaced by Boys in the Hood helmer John Singleton. Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster were also absent from the second movie.
To cover for Diesel's absence, Tyrese Gibson, who would become a key part of the franchise going forward, was drafted in. Gibson's Roman Pearce teams up with Walker's now-ex-cop Brian O'Connor to take down a drug lord in exchange for the erasure of their criminal records.
It's pacy and fun, but it lacks the swagger of the original and the script is baggy.
7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The follow-up to 2 Fast 2 Furious (although it comes after Fast & Furious 6 in the franchise's timeline) saw Walker bow out too, and the action was transplanted from the streets of Los Angeles to the bright lights of Tokyo.
Without Diesel or Walker, it's left to Lucas Black, later to lead NCIS: New Orleans, to take a key role as Sean Boswell, a dedicated street racer, who, after one run-in too many with the police, is told he can avoid jail if he goes to live with his father, a US Navy officer stationed in Tokyo.
Trouble is, it turns out the folks in Tokyo are just as keen on burning rubber and Sean is quickly drawn in.
Tokyo Drift isn't vintage Fast and Furious, but a lot of the building blocks for what the franchise would become start there. Justin Lin, who would go on to direct four further movies in the series, made his start here, Sung Kang made his debut as fan-favorite Han Lue, and the movie closes with a returning Dom Torreto, who challenges Sean Boswell to a race just before the credits roll.
6. Fast & Furious 6
There's a lot to like about the sixth movie in the series, particularly Luke Evans, who goes all in as the villainous Owen Shaw, and some jaw-dropping action sequences, which set the bar for future installments. It does, however, get quite silly, quite quickly.
At the start of Fast and Furious 6, we find the whole team living quietly and enjoying the riches they accrued at the end of Fast Five. Then Johnson's Luke Hobbs, the DEA agent who spent all of the last movie trying to catch the team, turns up with a proposition.
Hobbs needs Dom and his team to help catch Shaw, a former British SAS Major and special ops soldier who has just destroyed a Russian military convoy. Living in luxury with Elena Neves (who he met during Fast Five) Dom is resistant, but after Hobbs shows him a photo of his supposedly murdered wife, Letty Ortiz, working with Shaw, things change. Eventually, Dom and his crew accept the mission in exchange for full criminal pardons, which would allow them to return to the US.
Unfortunately, Letty, who has amnesia, does not want to return to the team and helps Shaw as he wreaks havoc on London.
The amnesia is a ridiculous storyline and this movie is riddled with plot holes, but it's also one of the most fun movies in the series.
5. Fast & Furious
After two movies apart, the band got back together in 2009 with Diesel, Walker, Brewster, and Rodriguez all coming back for this fourth outing.
At the start of the movie, Dom and his crew are in the Dominican Republic, making a good living hijacking fuel tankers. When things get heated with law enforcement, Dom asks Letty to go back to the US to stay out of trouble. Cut to a few months later and Dom learns Letty has been killed in a car crash. He heads to Los Angeles to attend her funeral and investigate the crash site, which leads him to a local mechanic who he suspects has interfered with her car. Turns out, that same mechanic is of interest to Walker's Brian O'Connor, who is chasing down a drug lord.
Initially unhappy to be reunited, the pair soon find they've got shared interests and off we go.
A modestly budgeted action smash-up at $85 million, this took over $360 million at the box office and supercharged the franchise into the juggernaut it became.
The movie is a bit patchy in its pace and plotting, but the return of the original gang works well and you can feel the step up in terms of action and cohesion.
4. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Dwayne Johnson's arrival in the Fast and Furious franchise coincided with it returning box office receipts over the $600 million mark, leading the star to label himself as "franchise Viagra". His remark was tongue-in-cheek, but his star power, even then, was undoubted.
So, after scene-stealing turns in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7, he was given a spin-off. In this ninth movie, he teams up with another scene stealer, Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw, the villain who tormented the team in Furious 7 (more on that later), as well as newcomer Vanessa Kirby, as Shaw's sister Hattie.
The whole thing is a hoot, with the unlikely pair thrown together to battle a cybernetically enhanced terrorist named Brixton who wants to threaten the world with a deadly virus.
Johnson and Statham are tremendous fun, Idris Elba's Brixton matches them for muscle and comic timing, and the whole thing plays out spectacularly. It's a bit too long at almost 2 hours 20 minutes, but that's only a minor drawback.
A sequel for the pair, who do not look set to return to the main franchise, is in active development. Yes, please!
3. Furious 7
Statham's arrival into the world of Fast and Furious came at the end of Fast & Furious 6 as he triggers a huge explosion and announces to Torreto that he's coming to avenge his brother Owen, who the crew had just taken down.
To stop this Shaw, Dom makes a deal with Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody, a government official in charge of covert operations. Mr. Nobody will help them in their quest to stay alive if Dom's team retrieves God's Eye, a computer program that uses digital devices to track down a person and save its creator, a hacker named Ramsey.
To save Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), the team is forced to airdrop off-road modified cars over the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan in an awe-inspiring action sequence. From there, it is all action and stupendous set pieces.
Tragically, two months into production news broke that Paul Walker had been killed in a car crash. Production was suspended before it was decided to finish the movie with Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody standing in to complete his remaining scenes.
The movie's ending is a tribute to Walker, and, for a franchise that can be brash and full of machismo, it's very tender and superbly put together.
2. The Fast and the Furious
Where it all started. Back in 2001, Vin Diesel, who'd just starred in hit sci-fi saga Pitch Black, came together with Paul Walker, to make a $38 million dollar action smash-em-up, based on a Vibe magazine article about the rise of street racing.
The scenario is a classic, Walker's Brian O'Connor is an undercover cop sent in to befriend Diesel's Dominic Toretto, a local street racer, who the police suspect is the ring-leader for a series of hijackings. Naturally, things get complicated as the two become friends and then more complicated when Brian begins dating Dom's sister Mia.
Watching it back now, the movie still has real swagger and confidence, with a pumped-up soundtrack, some brilliant car chases and two characters who give you instant buy-in.
1. Fast Five
The ultimate Fast and Furious movie and the one where everything came together.
Fast Five is where the franchise transitions from being grounded in street race culture and moves into a full-on action franchise. We watch as Toretto and O'Conner round up the team of Han, Roman, Tej, and Gisele, as well as Tego Calderón and Don Omar as locals Leo and Santos, to try to steal $100 million from a corrupt businessman.
All the while, the pair, and then the team, are being pursued for arrest by Johnson's Luke Hobbs, after they're framed for the murder of a group of DEA agents.
The action is amped up, the plotting is perfect and there are some amazing sequences, in particular a bank vault being dragged through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
This is the franchise's crowning glory and an action spectacular.