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The "Fast and Furious" franchise has made its mark with crazy car races, epic fisticuffs, super-macho male egos and scantily clad women dancing seductively in slo-mo before the next crazy car race begins. But since 2001’s "The Fast and the Furious" introduced Vin Diesel’s street tough Dominic Toretto and the late Paul Walker’s cop/criminal/family man Brian O’Conner, the series of action flicks has shifted gears to being a tried-and-true cinematic saga over eight films. (The ninth is filming now for release on May 22, 2020.)
Spinoffs were inevitable, and the first is "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" (in theaters Friday), which pits frenemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) vs. genetically enhanced bad guy Brixton Lore (Idris Elba).
The parade of nutty stuff the series has pulled off is obvious. But how do the films rank as actual movies and not just stunt extravaganzas? Let’s get fast and furious in breaking them down:
9. '2 Fast 2 Furious' (2003)
The first "Fast" film with no Diesel, it would be the worst regardless, but "2 Fast" is a pretty terrible movie. It’s like a bad two-hour episode of "Thunder in Paradise" in which Brian and childhood frenemy Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) team up to take down a Miami drug lord. Probably a small miracle this didn’t kill the property dead.
8. 'The Fast and the Furious' (2001)
Average action, poor visual effects and a weak plot don’t help the series opener. Yet this four-wheeled take on "Point Break" is at least watchable thanks to the inexplicable chemistry between Dom and Brian, who’d rather not believe that his new hot-rodding svengali is responsible for jacking truckers. (He totally is.)
7. 'The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift' (2006)
The third film exists as novelty in that it takes the racing scene to Japan and centers on teenager Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) getting into trouble with gangsters in Tokyo. Embrace the surprisingly deep Daniel/Mr. Miyagi dynamic with Sean and Han Lue (Sung Kang) and try to forget the fact that its lead character may be the worst driver ever.
6. 'Fast & Furious' (2009)
Maybe it was the ampersand. But for anybody needing to reboot a franchise the right way, here’s your template: The fourth installment killed off a main character (at least for a couple of films), began to embrace the extreme camp and focus on family that would be franchise hallmarks, but brought back the simple magic of Dom and Brian getting fast and furious.
5. 'Hobbs & Shaw' (2019)
The mutual dislike (and begrudging respect) between the two fan-favorite butt-kickers is the appeal of this mashup of superspy intrigue and old-school fisticuffs, though the secret sauce is the addition of Shaw's cool-as-a-cucumber younger sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). The spinoff doesn't know if it wants to be "Furious" or a "Mission: Impossible," but at least it has plenty of things that go kablooey.
4. 'The Fate of the Furious' (2017)
Who needs James Bond when we have an American crew of world-saving antiheroes who are weirdly good at spec-ops missions? When Dom turns bad in the eighth film and teams up with an international hacker queen (Charlize Theron), his pal Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) takes the lead in bringing them down. Things have never been this ridiculously silly, but there's no denying the appeal of giant wrecking balls taking out a highway of cars and a Dodge Charger taking on a Russian nuclear submarine.
3. 'Fast & Furious 6' (2013)
After so many boys and their toys, No. 6 was noteworthy for letting the women take the wheel. Amid a globetrotting adventure that saw our favorite outlaws take on international supervillain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) – and Dom jumping off a tank on a highway – Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) gets a pair of great fight scenes with Shaw’s imposing No. 2 (mixed martial artist Gina Carano).
2. 'Furious 7' (2015)
Some heady themes come to the fore along with the spectacle: The checkered past of Dom’s crew comes back to haunt them in the form of Owen Shaw’s dangerous big bro Deckard (Jason Statham), and Brian weighs his growing family vs. an adrenaline-fueled life. The seventh movie also offers a tear-jerking tribute to Walker as Brian rides off into the sunset and his buddy Dom races into the future.
1. 'Fast Five' (2011)
Dwayne Johnson was the muscular jump-start that the "Furious" series was sorely missing, giving Dom a powerhouse authority figure who could match him punch for punch, testosterone-laden stare to testosterone-laden stare. But the fifth film is also the most fun for "Fast" diehards as well as newcomers: It crafts a high-stakes global adventure that nicely ties together (and expands) the mythology.
Listen to this week's episode of USA TODAY's podcast, The Mothership, to hear our Film Critic's review of "Hobbs and Shaw" in the player below.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Hobbs & Shaw': All the 'Fast and Furious' films, ranked worst to best