Fast and Furious timeline: How to watch properly

Tom Eames
Photo credit: Universal / Everett / Rex Shutterstock

From Digital Spy

Fast and Furious? Oh yeah, that no-brainer, ludicrous and macho series about speed racing. No, my misinformed friend. It's so much more than that. Well, it can be ludicrous at times, but for all the right reasons.

But if you want to delve into these films properly, you better do your research first, especially as the titles aren't exactly helpful. Titles are too similar, some have numbers and some don't, some are actually prequels rather than sequels, so things can get pretty confusing.

So for any Furious noobs out there, here is your one-stop guide to celebrate the release of Fast & Furious 8, and you'll be hooked before you know it. Slight spoilers within…

1. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001)

Photo credit: Universal

Introducing:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
  • Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster)
  • Vince (Matt Schulze)
  • Hector (Noel Gugliemi)
  • Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry)

Based on a newspaper article about street racers, the film that started it all focused on undercover police officer Brian and his attempt to infiltrate ex-convict Dom's gang.

Essentially a remake of Point Break (but even better), Brian can't help but get seduced by Dom's 'ride or die' attitude, and the rest is history. Little did we know that the film would kick off one of the highest-grossing franchises ever made, especially considering what came next…

2. TURBO-CHARGED PRELUDE (2003)

Returning:

  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)

A largely mute short film that bridges the gap between the first and second films. Released on the DVD of 2 Fast 2 Furious, it explains how Brian was eventually arrested by the LAPD for letting Dom go.

It also explains just how Brian was able to turn himself intro a street king in such a short space of time despite being a wanted man. Plus, Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly appears as a character known purely as 'Girl'. Sadly, she didn't return.

3. 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003)

Photo credit: Universal

Returning:

  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry)

Introducing:

  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Ludacris)
  • Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes)

Easily the worst movie in the franchise, but it still had its moments and welcomed future franchise stalwarts Roman and Tej. Plus, Brian is peak bro in this film, a personality trait that we didn't witness before or since, and it's a beauty to behold.

The only film in the franchise not to feature Vin at all, it's a wonder that the series was able to survive after this silly sequel. But the later films still found a way of connecting it to the overall series, which is damn impressive. Even X-Men pretended The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine didn't happen.

4. LOS BANDOLEROS (2009)

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)

Introducing:

  • Han (Sung Kang)
  • Tego Leo (Tego Calderon)
  • Rico Santos (Don Omar)

This second short DVD extra film helps bring fans up to date before Vin's full comeback in Fast & Furious, and introduces new characters Han, Rico and Tego (although Han first appeared in Tokyo Drift, but we'll get onto that).

It shows what Dom had been up to in the Dominican Republic, and how he rekindled his relationship with Letty. Annoyingly, the one thing it doesn't explain is how the hell Brian went from street dude at the end of 2 Fast to a kick-ass FBI agent in Fast & Furious, but we'll let it slide.

5. FAST & FURIOUS (2009)

Photo credit: Universal

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
  • Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster)
  • Han (Sung Kang)
  • Tego Leo (Tego Calderon)
  • Rico Santos (Don Omar)

Introducing:

  • Giselle (Gal Gadot)
  • Agent Michael Stasiak (Shea Whigham)
  • Arturo Braga (John Ortiz)

While this wasn't a perfect movie, it was definitely a huge improvement and got people interested in these characters once again. Though, they could have called it something else, surely?

Brian and Dom are face-to-face once more, and the ultimate action movie bromance is born.

6. FAST FIVE (2011)

Photo credit: Universal

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster)
  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Ludacris)
  • Han (Sung Kang)
  • Giselle (Gal Gadot)
  • Vince (Matt Schulze)
  • Tego Leo (Tego Calderon)
  • Rico Santos (Don Omar)
  • Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes – post-credits)

Introducing:

  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
  • Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky)

Now, THIS film made people stand up and say 'shit, since when did Fast and Furious films get awesome?' Dropping the street racing focus and shifting to heist action certainly helped, but also introducing 'franchise-saver' Dwayne Johnson into the mix was inspired.

Roman and Tej were back from the second film, and even Vince from the very first movie returned to make one bloated cast list that somehow worked perfectly.

7. FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013)

Photo credit: Universal / Everett / Rex Shutterstock

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Ludacris)
  • Han (Sung Kang)
  • Giselle (Gal Gadot)
  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
  • Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky)
  • Agent Michael Stasiak (Shea Whigham)
  • Arturo Braga (John Ortiz)

Introducing:

  • Owen Shaw (Luke Evans)
  • Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham – post-credits)

We picked this as our favourite Fast & Furious movie so far. After surprassing everyone's expectations in Fast Five (they decided to be Furious again in this one), it upped the ante with its insane action sequences, settled on a perfect crew, and seeing The Rock smash London to bits is worth the ticket price alone.

Letty was back after one movie away, and that moment when The Stath suddenly shows up when you're least suspecting it was one of the best post-credit reveals ever.

8. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006)

Photo credit: Universal

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel – cameo)
  • Han (Sung Kang)

Introducing:

  • Sean Boswell (Lucas Black)
  • Neela Ezar (Nathalie Kelley)
  • Twinkie (Bow Wow)

This is where it gets truly confusing. Although this was the third film to be released, it's actually the sixth film chronologically. This sidestep to Tokyo dropped Dom and Brian and focused on future 'drift king' Sean. They could easily have just kept this as a spinoff movie that had little to do with the overall franchise, but in true geek style they made the climax for the film an important plot device for a sequel that arrived nine years later.

Essentially this was all down to Han, who is killed off in this film but everyone loved him so much that they came up with a way of bringing him by delaying the inevitable (complete with hilarious conversation about him 'moving to Tokyo' at every opportunity). It didn't make sense as to why Sean appeared to age 10 years in between scenes in the next film, but oh well. Also, try to ignore all the 2006 technology hanging around and pretend that Han and co just loved being all retro.

If you wanted to geek out even further, Han actually appears in the film Better Luck Tomorrow, also directed by Justin Lin (who directed Tokyo Drift to 6).

9. FURIOUS 7 (2015)

Photo credit: Universal / Everett / Rex Shutterstock

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
  • Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster)
  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Ludacris)
  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
  • Sean Boswell (Lucas Black)
  • Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky)
  • Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)
  • Hector (Noel Gugliemi – cameo)
  • Owen Shaw (Luke Evans – cameo)

Introducing:

  • Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell)
  • Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)

Finally making Tokyo Drift part of the main plot (and thus sadly finally saying goodbye to Han), the franchise was no longer technically one big prequel series, as the remaining crew faced off against their biggest problem to date: Jason Statham.

It became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and managed to handle the passing of lead star Paul Walker remarkably well.

10. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Photo credit: Universal

Returning:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Ludacris)
  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
  • Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky)
  • Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)
  • Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell)
  • Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)
  • Tego Leo (Tego Calderon - cameo)
  • Rico Santos (Don Omar - cameo)

Introducing:

  • Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood)
  • Cipher (Charlize Theron)
  • Magdalene Shaw (Helen Mirren)

With Brian and Mia in retirement, Dom is forced to go rogue and betray his family after big baddie Cipher blackmails him into working for her.

Mr Nobody enlists Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw into working with Hobbs and his team to track down Dom and take down Cipher and... save the world in the process.

Salute mi familia…

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