The Fast & Furious franchise is 10 films old this week, with Fast X releasing in theatres this week. Somehow, a movie series that began in 2001 with a core premise of “Steroids and Nitro” has outlived most of its peers, including other peer franchises (like Bad Boys and Transformers). Even more surprisingly, the Fast ‘family’ of movies have been consistently entertaining, pulling out plotlines from the flimsiest of premises and giving pop culture lines like “Ejecto seato, cuz” and “I’m what you might call a champagne problem”. A general rule of thumb states that every franchise’s longevity is in part influenced by the strength of its villains. So here are the Fast & Furious villains ranked from lowest to highest.
If there was a definitive point where the Fast & Furious franchise said, “Screw those street racing roots!” – Fast Five was it. With globetrotting action and additional muscle power of Hobbs, played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, there was enough going on in Fast Five and the villain Hernan Reyes had little to do other than provide a macguffin for the climactic chase. Reyes’s big baddie is a stereotypical drug lord and mostly ho-hum.
While Tokyo Drift is a unique entry in the Fast and Furious franchise, it is possibly much better in hindsight, especially after the integration of its protagonists Han, Sean and Twinkie into franchise canon. However, Yakuza heir Takashi never really adds up to much – and the stakes are never high enough for us to really care for his defeat.
Tran’s character is possibly the second person to say the word “family” in the franchise – and the first villain to do so. While Yune’s portrayal of Tran is sincere in a “Lets wince as much as we can to look angry” way, it doesn’t help his case that the overall stakes are (mostly) stolen DVD players. Or the fact that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto is already the primary anti-hero in this movie. However, Johnny Tran does have a line that has since become the stuff of memes: “Too soon, junior.”
This one is sort of cheating since Statham is somewhere on the spectrum between anti-hero and villain. However, in Furious 7, the focus on the alternate baddie Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) is so limited, one is compelled to count Deckard as the main villain. In fact, his motivations are more compelling and the consequences of his actions more significant than anything Jakande does. Of course, Shaw is now family, with his own sub-franchise, so there’s a happy ending for a bad guy.
Rasmussen’s Otto makes it high on the list only because of his entertaining mix of camp and self-awareness that's delightfully at odds with the rest of the franchise. “Spoiled rich pricks run the world,” he says and we hear you Otto, we hear you.
By the time this film came around, we are in that stage of the franchise when the only question was, “Who or what will assemble the Toretto Avengers?” Theron plays a hacker and terrorist, and the writers make the threat personal to Dom. Cipher is smart, charming, focused and just about serviceable as a villain for two franchise entries.
Carter Verone, an Argentinian drug lord, stands in stark contrast to Hernan Reyes. The fact that Carter is memorable in the franchise’ weakest entry is to Hauser’s credit. With his mix of good looks and over-the-top menace, Hauser did his level best (along with Tyrese Gibson and Paul Walker) to fill the Vin Diesel sized void we saw in 2 Fast 2 Furious.
You can thank Owen Shaw for a lot of this film’s appeal. Formerly with the British Special Air Service (SAS) and currently evil mastermind, Owen is a formidable threat to the Fast Fam. He’s taken Letty away from Dom, introduced a Tessaract-level McGuffin threat, and pretty much thrown whatever he can at them – including a tank, some Batmobile-level reinforced F1 cars, and an Antonov AN-124.
The fourth Fast & Furious film remains a personal favourite. A reboot/reignition with the main cast returning, the movie tells a tight story and Alonso’s Fenix is a compelling, menacing villain. In a movie where physics were still a thing, Laz (also ‘Mother’s Milk’ in Amazon Prime’s The Boys) brings a physicality to the role that matches Vin’s presence – and you can see why even Diesel may want ‘prep-time’ to mess with him. Additional bonus points for the best, most satisfying car induced villain death in the franchise, to secure Fenix the top spot.