MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE: 10 BEST ‘FAST & FURIOUS’ MOVIE MOMENTS
Movie theaters might as well sell champagne and Ciroc bottles whenever a new Fast & Furious movie opens. More than just energetic doses of full-throttle action cinema, new editions of the Vin Diesel-led franchise are basically big-screen parties, and the audience members are the VIP guests. Viewers applaud when certain characters make their first appearances, and with every wild stunt and near-death close call, the series’ biggest fans repeatedly lose their minds. There’s no denying it—the Fast & Furious brand is Hollywood’s purest form of crowd-pleasing entertainment.
Dating back to 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, which was based on the 1998 VIBE article “Racer X,” the franchise has pulled in over $2.3 billion internationally. What began as a glossy look at the underground culture of illegal street racing has settled into an unparalleled compendium of action moviemaking’s greatest tropes: heists, bare-knuckle fighting, and massive set-pieces that’d make Michael “Mr. Transformers” Bay blush. And in the franchise’s latest entry, Furious 7, the stakes are even higher. Fans are in for some seriously next-level visuals—more specifically, the sights of Vin Diesel and his thrill-seeking co-stars parachuting out of an airplane while strapped into cars, Diesel driving through one skyscraper’s glass windows into another skyscraper’s glass windows, and Paul Walker barely escaping a certain death while scrambling off the roof of a whip that’s falling off a cliff—you know, child’s play for the Fast & Furious crew.
Except that, sadly, there’s a dark cloud hanging over Furious 7: Paul Walker’s tragic November 2013 death, which delayed the film’s release for nearly a year. Because of that, the usual in-theater Fast & Furious party will at times unavoidably include collective mourning—by the end credits, tears may even flow. But that’s just another byproduct of how deeply invested audiences have become in the Fast & Furious franchise and its stars.
Furious 7’s commercials show Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto saying it’s their “one last ride,” which, in sequel-obsessed Hollywood, doesn’t seem likely—hey, money talks, and Furious 7 is about to break all the banks. But don’t expect anyone to fret over more adventures for Dom and his merry band of automotive action junkies. As this list of The 10 Best Fast & Furious Movie Scenes confirms, there’s nothing else in the movie game quite like watching Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, and the rest of their cohorts push expensive whips and laugh in the face of danger.
- Brian Takes the Helm – 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
The franchise’s first sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious is the undeniable black sheep in Dominic Toretto’s extended cinematic family. The reasons are obvious: aside from Vin Diesel’s glaring absence, director John Singleton’s (yes, the same Singleton who made Boyz n the Hood and Higher Learning) film mistakes mindless entertainment for unbridled looniness.
In 2 Fast 2 Furious’ opener, there is however the joy of watching the first film’s co-captain, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), officially become the man by out-driving a ton of roadsters in the brightly lit streets of Miami. You can imagine millions of Fast & Furious lovers first solidifying their undying love for Paul Walker as he speeds off that lifted-up bridge and leapfrogs over Michael Ealy.
- Underground Racing Kings – Fast & Furious (2009)
Consider this the most unlikely and craziest kind of couple’s therapy. The couple in question: Dom and Brian, whose friendship wavers throughout Fast & Furious, which reunited Vin Diesel and Paul Walker with franchise O.G.’s Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez. In the flick’s most impressive bit of overboard mayhem, Dom and Brian join forces to chase a villainous goon (played by Laz Alonso) through a secret tunnel that connects the U.S. to Mexico. Missed opportunity: not using Philly Most Wanted’s “Cross the Border” as the scene’s background music.
- Car, Meet Yacht – 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Okay, so 2 Fast 2 Furious isn’t a total wash. In addition to the aforementioned opening sequence, this Diesel-less sequel should be commended for introducing one of the Fast & Furious franchise’s most important components: its humor, supplied here by perennial one-liner king Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). This scene, in which Brian and Roman have to drive their car straight onto a yacht in order to save Brian’s girl, Monica (played by Eva Mendes), exemplifies the franchise’s uncanny ability to combine high-flying action with perfectly timed comic relief. It’s the blueprint for all of the future playful banter later shared between Tyrese and Ludacris.
- The Great Train Robbery – Fast Five (2011)
Everything changed in Fast Five—and for the better. Before the franchise’s fifth entry, the Fast & Furious movies were delicious junk food for car fetishists, but in this 2011 edition, the influences evolved from Autoweek to Ocean’s Eleven. And what better way to kick off a balls-to-the-wall heist movie centered around swanky automobiles than to pull off a breathless and impossibly over-the-top train robbery in which the stolen goods are, yes, fancy sports cars? It makes George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s schemes seem like amateur hour.
- The Race That Began It All – The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Everything you love about the Fast & Furious movies traces back to this, the first installment’s tone-setting race between then-enemies Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner, the latter working as an undercover detective in 2001’s inaugural The Fast and the Furious. It’s the first of the franchise’s now-countless number of supercharged action sequences, with the two eventual BFFs engaging in one hell of a pissing contest—in this case, though, said contest involves them defying their mortality while zooming past oncoming trains and Paul Walker surviving multiple Vin Diesel ice grills.
- The Parking Garage Battle – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
While some may consider this Japan-specific sequel to be both random and pointless, since it’s the one entry that almost completely deviates from the franchise’s main cast, Tokyo Drift is notable for being director Justin Lin’s first time in the driver’s seat—Lin, of course, would go on to direct the next three installments, steering the Fast & Furious brand into popcorn heaven. And Lin’s knack for extended bits of glorious automotive adrenaline rushes began with this, a claustrophobic display of “drifting”—or letting your whip glide across the surface during an altogether dangerous turn—set in a tightly compacted garage.
- Dom vs. Hobbs – Fast Five (2011)
Depending on how you look at it, this scene from Fast Five is either the franchise’s funniest moment or its best car-free action sequence. Its humor comes from the shot where Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson (playing one of the film’s antagonists, who’d, of course, eventually join Dom’s crew) stand face to face and are magically the same exact height; its greatness, however, comes from its brutality and the thrill of watching two of Hollywood’s coolest bruisers do some no-holds-barred scrapping. It’s a good thing Vin Diesel’s earned so much good will playing Dom Toretto, too—otherwise, it’d be kind of absurd to accept that he could ever take The Rock.
- The Bank Vault – Fast Five (2011)
The incredible climax in what’s arguably the series’ best movie, Fast Five’s bank vault heist is the franchise at the height of its powers. Staged with finesse and the usual I’m-the-man showmanship by director Justin Lin, this jaw-dropper of a sequence—where Dom’s team lifts a massive vault from a corrupt police station and drives it around the street of Rio De Janeiro—taps into the later sequels’ dynamite blend of levity and blockbuster visuals.
But it’s also an example of something the Fast & Furious movies rarely get credit for: intelligently convoluted screenwriting. To better understand why critics should use the word “intelligent” more often when discussing these films, check out how Dom and his squad manage to walk away with the cash.
- The Airborne Hug – Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
With each new Fast & Furious movie, the levels of implausibility have escalated beyond measure. That’s not a complaint. Nobody buys a ticket for these flicks to see subtlety and realistic action—they drop $25 on a ticket, stale popcorn, and a flat soda to watch Vin Diesel’s gang perform wonderfully ludicrous stunts, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a stunt more unbelievable than what Paul Walker does in this standout Fast and Furious 6 scene. In the midst of a wild chase that features a tank crashing down a highway bridge, Diesel’s Dom laughs at both physics and gravity by flying through the air to catch Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty.
- The Neverending Runway – Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
Was there ever any doubt that this sequence would take the top spot? It’s essentially the entire Fast & Furious series thrown into one epic action extravaganza, one that, like the franchise as a whole, simultaneously spits at logic and entertains like none other. Granted, it also requires you to turn your brain off and not question why there’s an airplane runway that measures around 300 miles long—it’s better to ignore that meaningless detail.
After all, the seemingly endless runway allows for every single cast member to get in on the action, whether they’re trading punches, body-slamming folks onto the roofs of cars, or recklessly driving alongside a speeding plane. By the time Vin Diesel zooms out of the exploding plane in, naturally, a wicked sports car, all you can do is smile, clap, and wonder how in the god Dom’s name they’ll top this scene in Furious 7.