“I don’t have friends. I got family.”
For the vast majority of the Fast and the Furious franchise’s twenty-year 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.
With the latest entry in the series, F9, now in theaters, 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.
So 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