Since first go, the Fast & Furious movies have been using the classic set-up of a car chase as an opportunity to enrich the drama of its family-focused ensemble and orchestrate full-throttle sequences that are best defined as blissfully ridiculous. They’ve also become an essential building block as to what defines a Fast & Furious movie, especially as the series has taken its cars well beyond the street races that once inspired them. The franchise’s thrilling chases mix a genuine audaciousness with practical spectacle, and have built upon what’s been previously possible in an action movie car chase. It doesn’t always involve strictly cars, either: In the world of Fast & Furious, sometimes that hot pursuit can be built around a stolen vault, a hijacked tank, or a nuclear submarine.
In anticipation of the latest Fast & Furious movie — the spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, which has three chases — we took a look at all of these sequences to choose which ones are the best so far.
23. Eteon chase, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
We’ve got to start this list with a little tough love: Hobbs & Shaw might be a spinoff that wants to carve its own path, but its second chase scene through a generic, gray abandoned factory shows it going in the wrong direction. Yes, it puts Dwayne Johnson behind the wheel of a big truck so he can smash other smaller cars, and it features Idris Elba’s Brixton zipping around on his mini-Transformer of a motorcycle. But this scene is a dull mess of CG vehicles and green screen background work, and its most extreme moments — like everyone having to drive up, around, and out of an exploding building — don’t have the necessary grit. This is the kind of slick action sequence that the previous films have been distancing themselves from, and it works too easily as an example of what makes for an underwhelming chase within the scope of the franchise.
22. Wrecking ball, The Fate of the Furious
F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious is especially gratuitous with its car destruction, even for a Fast & Furious movie. We’ll get to the “zombie car” sequence in a bit, but this scene from F8’s second act features our heroes evading a group of German soldiers after stealing an EMP, using a giant wrecking ball (with a smiley face on it) to smack away pursuing cars. Designed more for banter and destruction than tension, the scene at least takes us to one of the film’s shocking twists, as Vin Diesel’s Dom goes full-Benedict Arnold on the team, and runs Hobbs off the road, kicking off the film’s twisty plot about betraying family.
21. DVD Heist, The Fast and the Furious
Before the series built its drama out of chasing planes, trains, and submarines, the Fast & Furious franchise had its humble beginnings of mere street piracy, as with the very first chase in Rob Cohen’s The Fast & the Furious. The bounty? A sweet haul of brand spankin’ new DVD players, transported by a semi-truck that gets hijacked by a small squad of covert sports cars, with the help of a harpoon. It’s a light introduction to the overall heist legacy of the series, but it does feature action movies taking back the Clark Griswold highway stunt from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation of maneuvering a car under a moving semi-truck.
20. Yacht chase, 2 Fast 2 Furious
This pursuit is brief and involves a yacht, but since boats are considered to be vehicles, it counts. The last hurrah of 2 Fast 2 Furious is a stunt that Tyrese’s character appropriately calls “some Dukes of Hazzard shit,” as Brian deduces that the best way to sneak onto the bad guy’s yacht is to land on it with a ’69 Camaro. It’s conceived as a form of friendship bonding (“You got my back, bro?” Brian asks Roman before putting on a seatbelt) and it predates later flying car spectacles, like when Dom drives a million-dollar car in between Abu Dhabi skyscrapers in Furious 7.
19. Chased by police, The Fast and the Furious
The first big race in The Fast and the Furious leads to cops sending racers and spectators fleeing in different directions. Even Dom parks his car in a random garage, but is still chased by cop cars. Brian swoops in to save him, and it makes for the duo’s first major bonding experience as Brian zips past L.A. cops, and wins the respect of the curmudgeonly Dom.
18. London motorcycle chase, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
After making it traditional for cars to drive under semis, Hobbs & Shaw is the first movie in the Fast & Furious franchise to achieve that feat with a motorcycle thanks to Elba’s self-proclaimed “Black Superman” and his nifty robot-bike. Watching him slide underneath two trucks in downtown London is one of the few thrills in the film’s first chase, as Elba and others pursue our focal new heroes (including Hattie, played by Vanessa Kirby) through crowded streets while Jason Statham’s Shaw steers a McLaren as if this were another one of his Transporter movies.
17. Los Angeles chase, Furious 7
Furious 7 has the Fast family tearing through the streets of Los Angeles, dodging drone missiles. This is another sequence that is just barely within the criteria of a F&F chase, but it does feature some cops in pursuit, who chase our heroes before becoming missile fodder themselves. And not for nothing, this is another high-paced scene in which a character jumps between cars, in this case it’s Ramsey hopping between one drifting vehicle to another.
16. Samoa chase, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The third act of Hobbs & Shaw (no spoilers!) also brings it all back home, and not just in the sense that it takes place in Hobbs’ native country of Samoa. This scene also brings the franchise back to customized automobiles action sequences, with NOS switches and raucous motors, as part of a big chase involving Brixton and his futuristic army fighting and racing with Hobbs, Shaw, and the people of Samoa. The scene recalls highway heists of earlier Fast & Furious movies, with various drivers linking up and using the muscle of their cars to help each other.
15. Truck heist gone wrong, The Fast and the Furious
Later into the family drama of The Fast and the Furious, everything starts to fall apart when a truck hijacking by Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Vince (Matt Schulze) and Leon (Johnny Strong) goes haywire. Unlike in the introduction, this truck driver is armed with a shotgun, leading to a chaotic moment of Vince dodging bullets while his harpoon wire is wrapped tightly around his arm. It’s the big debut of a few F&F staples, including jaw-dropping stunt work as Brian (who appears just in time to save the day) leaps from his moving car onto the truck. It also sets the tone for the franchise baking high-stakes soap opera drama into its action scenes, as Brian is forced to reveal that he’s a cop when he calls in a medical helicopter, with Dom watching.
14. Miami police chase, 2 Fast 2 Furious
The one big chase of 2 Fast 2 Furious has Brian and Roman joyriding through Miami, acting as wheelmen with thugs who do not know they’re battling with undercover cops. After a drug deal attracts the attention of police, the two flee across Miami, pursued by a whole bunch of cops who are swiftly eluded and often smash into other like in a Blues Brothers movie. And just when the cops think they have Roman and Brian cornered, a swarm of street cars outnumber the cops and become a major distraction. In spite of the sizable spectacle created by director John Singleton, the stakes for this sequence are fairly low, but it offers plenty of gratuitous cop car crashes and a heartwarming display of street racers working together.
13. Tokyo drifting escape, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Most of the car scenes in Tokyo Drift take place in the context of racing, especially as its lead Sean (Lucas Black) gets deeper into the world of drift racing. But there’s an excellent chase in the middle that’s crucial to the film’s story and spectacle: Sean, his friend Han (Sung Kang) and Neela (Nathalie Kelley) are being chased by two gangsters through busy nighttime Tokyo traffic. As part of the chase, they snake impressively in between innocent bystanders, and later on have to drift though big crowds of people who disperse just in time. Narratively, the scene is pivotal too, since it shows Sean finally getting the hang of drifting, but also the death of Han, which is later re-contextualized at the end of Fast & Furious 6 as the first kill by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw (when he was considered a bad guy, at least).
12. Finale chase, The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious only uses two cars and two motorbikes for its big chase, but it’s the dramatic charge that counts most here. After side character Jesse is gunned down in front of the Toretto home, Dom gives chase for the two bike-riding shooters, with Brian — now revealed to be a cop — going after all three of them. Dom and Brian dodge bullets as the gang members (including lead villain Train) spray bullets all over the hilly streets of their neighborhood. But once the chase is down to Dom and Brian, it leads to an iconic drag race, on a stretch of road that has inspired Dom to live his life a quarter-mile at a time.
11. New York City chase, The Fate of the Furious
The gang’s visit to New York City includes arguably the most destruction in any Fast & Furious movie, especially as weaponized “zombie cars” rain down from parking garages to create a Jackson Pollock painting of smashed up automobiles — all in an attempt to squash a target Russian minister of defense. But the scene’s more classic, emotional aspect comes after, with the gang pursuing a rogue Dom through daytime markets and in between oncoming traffic, ultimately having to use the harpoons from the franchise’s action sequences on one of their own. Alas, their teamwork is no match for Dom’s Hulk-like Dodge Charger, who spectacularly breaks free from their grasp, even causing two cars to elaborately crash-flip into each other.
10. Train heist, Fast Five
In terms of F&F lore, this scene is not as much a chase as it is a heist that showcases the reckless glory of the franchise, but no list would be complete without it. It imagines a car-boosting heist in jaw-dropping manner, with Brian, Mia (Jordana Brewster), Dom and others trying to steal cars from a moving train in Brazil, which starts with using harpoons to rip off the side of the locomotive. After a few cars are stolen and driven away, the deal falls apart and Dom and Brian have to protect themselves — Brian ends up commandeering a truck before it can catch Mia, who gets away in one of the boosted cars. But the truly incredible moment is when Brian’s crashes into the aforementioned train, and you can see the train nearly fall off the tracks, in a shining example of the dangerous practical spectacle the series is dedicated to. Brian and Dom driving their getaway mobile off the side of a cliff is merely icing on the cake.
9. Gas truck heist, Fast & Furious
Fast & Furious confidently rebooted itself at the beginning of its fourth film with this explosive callback to the truck attacks of the 2001 movie. Working with his first heist in the franchise, Lin again displays an incredible sense of organization for many moving pieces, as Dom and his crew (with characters brought back from Tokyo Drift and 2 Fast 2 Furious) swoop in and poach gas tanks (“liquid gold!”) from an isolated truck, forcing many of them to tactfully drive in reverse, and for Letty to surf between moving tanks. The coda for this thrilling intro is none other than Dom and Letty, with nowhere to go but forward, driving underneath a gas truck as it tumbles down the hill, bursting into flames. It’s a hell of a beginning, but also an introduction to a visceral, over-the-top quality that would elevate the series’ take on its own brand of the car chase.
8. London chase, Fast & Furious 6
It took six movies for the Fast & Furious franchise to properly weaponize driving on the wrong side of the road, and they did so in style with the flip car, one of the franchise’s most unforgettable vehicles. Driven by baddies Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and Vegh (Clara Paget), it zips and looks like a formula one racing car with a ramp on it, and its super power is that it can launch any car that it drives up to into the air. Add it to busy London nighttime traffic, and you get this giddy, colorful sequence of clever car crashes.
7. Funeral chase, Furious 7
Furious 7 is an aggrieved Fast & Furious movie, and not just because of the tribute it pays to the late Paul Walker at the very end. Take the first big chase in the film, which is high drama in the scope of the series: Dom tears out of Han’s funeral service in a Dodge Charger, in pursuit of the man (Statham’s Shaw) who literally blew up his family home in an earlier scene. Diesel pursues Statham’s car into an empty tunnel, and in a gesture of fresh grief, stares Shaw’s car in the face and slams right into it. It’s a game of chicken that leaves both of them merely cracking their necks in discomfort after, but underneath the bountiful testosterone is the tragedy of a man mourning his friend, eager to fight the angel of death who took him.
6. Underground tunnel chase, Fast & Furious
In a vital mix of special effects and real cars, director Justin Lin starts this climactic chase like a mini Mad Max moment, with an army of cars trailing Dom and Brian’s vehicles, and Dom able to thwart some of them with the blow of a shotgun. The expertly edited action sequence then takes us into a claustrophobic series of tunnels, most of which had to be made in post-production. It’s the cars that count, however, especially as they vividly smash into little pieces any time someone is thwarted by the location’s shadowy dead ends.
5. Submarine chase, The Fate of the Furious
F. Gary Gray finally gave us Fast & Furious: On Ice with the fiery, chilly climactic chase in The Fate of the Furious, which has our heroes blitzing away from a nuclear submarine and an army of bad guys in tow. Treated with a fair share of comic relief, this expansive chase in Siberia leans into the film’s attempt to turn its stars into car-savvy super-spies. This might be the first time in all of movie history that a flying car has dodged a heat-seeking missile in order to blow up a nuclear submarine, so we can be grateful for that.
4. Vault heist, Fast Five
The heist in Fast Five is perhaps one of the greatest in all of cinema and definitely one of the best in the series, particularly because it is so on brand: Our heroes smash into a police station, rip out of their targeted vault, and proceed to drag it behind their Dodge Chargers with trusty cables, wagging it through Rio De Janeiro traffic like a deadly steel tail. The vault tumbles through a bank when Dom and Brian take sharp turns, and clobbers police vehicles along the way; their coordinated driving makes it believable that the vault could keep moving and not let anything get in its way. Fast Five showed the franchise evolving into a heist story, and this sequence displays that change beautifully, especially as the amount of smashed up cop cars and tricky, coordinated driving is more than fulfilled by this edgy approach to a chase.
3. Highway tank chase, Fast & Furious 6
The automobile carnage of Fast and Furious 6 reaches an inspired peak with its second to last big action sequence, involving Luke Evans’ evil Shaw driving on the wrong side of the road again, this time in a tank. As cars are ruthlessly pancaked by the military vehicle (which bursts out from a hijacked convoy), Dom and the gang use their improvisational skills behind the wheel to stop Shaw. In the process, they have to dodge a collapsing overhead bridge, and in the case of Tyrese’s Roman, leap from a destroyed car onto Brian’s moving one. And after Dom’s torment of seeing an amnesiac version of his beloved Letty, the scene gives the franchise’s focal couple a reunion: He catches her in mid-air, as the tank she’s standing on is abruptly flipped because its anchor of a crushed-up Mustang got snagged under a bridge (naturally). It’s true romance in the Fast & Furious fashion.
2. Bus chase, Furious 7
The piece de resistance of Furious 7 comes at the beginning of the second act, after our heroes are recruited to work for the shadowy government head honcho Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Reborn as auto-savvy mercenaries, Dom and his family fall from the heavens and land gracefully on a windy mountain road, in pursuit of an armored bus with a kidnapped hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emanuel) inside. What starts off as a rescue mission then expands to a second chase, with Dom pursuing Shaw with Ramsey in his front seat, barreling down a hillside while avoiding trees and eventually a cliff. Meanwhile, Walker has one of his finest hand-to-hand combat moments, trying to convince us that he could take Ong Bak star Tony Jaa in a fight. For a thrilling, multilayered sequence that laughs at the existence of gravity in the realm of Fast & Furious movies, it has a perfectly bullheaded finale: Dom’s solution to being cornered by a set of bad guys is to careen off a second cliff, but at least he gives Ramsey a helmet first.
1. Airplane chase, Fast & Furious 6
Physics are the greatest artistic liberty in the Fast & Furious franchise. For evidence, look no further than the 25-mile long airport runway at the end of Fast & Furious 6, home to the best chase in all of the films, as orchestrated masterfully by Justin Lin. As the evil Shaw and his crew try to drive onto a cargo plane that’s on the runway, the Fast family works to thwart their escape with their driving skills, fists, and cables, all leading to that heavenly mix of ensemble fighting and vehicle coordination that makes these action films so exhilarating. Such a busy bonanza is grounded by the importance of family as well, with Gal Gadot’s Gisele making a dramatic exit in a way that was genuinely shocking when the film first came out. As the plane inevitably blows up with our heroes driving alongside it, we then get to see Dom’s car burst through the nose of an exploding plane, and it’s a gorgeous sight. This incredible send-off from Lin (who is now set to return in installments nine and ten) proves that the best of the F&F chases use practical filmmaking — and real cars — to make the blissfully ridiculous possible.