The Fate of the Furious is about to speed into theaters, but before fans get a look at the next chapter in the car-chasing, explosions-filled saga, it’s time to look back at some of the best and most memorable moments from the previous seven installments. Ahead of Fast 8 arriving this Friday, EW’s biggest Fast & Furious fans picked their favorite scene (or two) from the franchise and explained what makes them all so great. Read on for the picks.
‘Dominic Toretto drove his car off a cliff and I was born again’
Film history started over for me when I saw Fast Five: It was 2011 and I thought I knew everything. Then Dominic Toretto drove his car off a cliff and I was born again. He drove that car off the cliff after he drove the car out of a train. (Because he had to rescue his friend-brother, Brian, from a truck that was about to explode; because Brian drove that truck off a dune through the air into the train.) The best thing about this scene is not the gorgeous geometry of director Justin Lin’s staging, the way every action leads inevitably to a megaphonic reaction. And the best thing about this scene is not the sudden silence that falls on the soundtrack when the car spins over the cliff, the patient way that the camera holds on humans and automobile flying weightless unconcerned through the air. It’s not the resolute look on Paul Walker’s face, not the shocked-bemused look on Vin Diesel’s. No, the moment that enters this scene into legend comes right before the car goes off the cliff. Flaming wreckage tumbles toward our heroes. There is nothing ahead of them but the end of the world. And Dom, unconcerned, puts his foot down on the gas pedal. Faster! Faster! Faster! — Darren Franich
Car vs. Plane, Car vs. Helicopter, Car vs. Submarine
I have a real soft spot for 2 Fast 2 Furious, the least beloved Furious movie. Director John Singleton was impressively uninterested in gearhead authenticity, but he turned the street-racing counterculture of the first film into a neon cartoon — all candy-bright colors and sweaty Florida skin. The plot of the movie wouldn’t motivate half an episode of Burn Notice, but it’s all mere pretense to get to this final scene: Bad-guy Carter Verone escaping in a second-wife yacht, good guys Brian and Roman chasing him through the air with a fast car. This gravity-bending moment kicked off the maniac tradition in the Furious film, leading right into the wild vehicle face-offs of the blockbuster-era sequels. Car vs. Plane, Car vs. Helicopter, Car vs. Submarine: It all started here. — D.F.
‘Daddy’s got to go to work’
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doesn’t have the biggest part in Furious 7 — it’s a beefed-up cameo that flitters in at the beginning and end of the movie — but he makes an impact. Quite literally: after breaking an arm cast by flexing his muscles and saying, “Daddy’s got to go to work,” Johnson borrows an ambulance from his hospital … and promptly drives it off an overpass and into an oncoming drone. Sure. But wait, there’s more: After shooting the drone in its eye, Johnson pulls a Jesse Ventura-in-Predator move, picking up a gun that’s entirely too big for mortal use. No matter: This is The Rock at his Rockiest and he wields the comically over-sized weapon with aplomb and ease. If there’s a greater metaphor for what this franchise has become since Fast Five, it hasn’t been found. — Christopher Rosen
That time Dom learned to fly
At its core, the Fast & Furious franchise is about two things: Family and ridiculously awesome (usually over-the-top) action. It’s adrenaline fueled by love, and no moment encapsulates that more than that one time Dom learned to fly in order to save Letty in Fast & Furious 6. See, Letty was still on the Bad Team because she had amnesia and couldn’t remember that Dom was the love of her life. But Dom remembered well enough for the both of them, and in one of the movie’s biggest action sequences, Letty found herself on top of a speeding tank. And when Dom, who was driving his car on a bridge next to the one Letty was on, noticed that she was about to be thrown off said tank to her death, he did the only thing a superhero could do: He opened his car door and got into place before crashing his car into the side of the bridge and launching himself through the air. Meeting Letty in mid-air, he tackled her back onto her bridge, where a car broke their fall. So not only did he prove that he’s invincible (and possibly a physics genius), but he also proved that love conquers all. (Honorable mention: That time in The Fast and the Furious when Dom picks Letty up by her butt. That moment is also about love, as well as something else this franchise loves: muscles.) — Samantha Highfill
Farewell to Paul Walker
Through seven movies, Fast & Furious had made fans cheer, laugh, and drive like maniacs when they leave the theater. But in Furious 7, the pulse-pounding action franchise had us crying. When Paul Walker died in 2013 during a break from filming, the planned ending of the seventh installment was scrapped, with the future of the film and franchise in question. Tasked with the impossible mission of crafting the final goodbye, director James Wan and company — aided by CGI and the late actor’s brothers serving as stand-ins — delivered the perfect send-off.
As the Fast family watches Brian and Mia play with their son, they decide this is where he belongs. Dom leaves without saying anything to his friend, noting, “It’s never goodbye.” While it could have ended there, as Dom somberly reflects at a stop sign, he’s surprised by the emergence of Brian. Paired with the smash hit “See You Again,” which was written specifically for the scene, a montage of memorable Brian moments plays. With the duo driving side-by-side one last time, Dom says farewell, “No matter where you are, whether it’s a quarter mile away or halfway across the world, you’ll always be with me and you’ll always be my brother.” Knowing that Vin Diesel is speaking directly to his fallen friend, I dare you to not tear up. I know I still do, even after seeing it 20… or 100 times. — Derek Lawrence
The Fast Five finale
The last sequence in Fast Five was the perfect finish to arguably the best film of the franchise. Set to Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro,” the final few minutes show that everyone in the family — with a boatload of cash in hand — got their happy endings. Roman and Tej got the rarest cars in the world, Han and Gisele drove off into the sunset (with a nod to Tokyo Drift) and a pregnant Mia and Brian reunited with Dom and Elena by the beach. And while the entire franchise could’ve ended there — with Brian challenging Dom to one final race, of course — the film’s post-credit tease revealed perhaps the biggest twist of all by teeing up the next installment: Letty is alive. — Robyn Ross
Dom and Deckard’s epic street fight (and dialogue)
The Fast & Furious franchise is best known for its high-speed, high-flying action. But also noteworthy is its sense of humor and camp — in Furious 7, in particular. There, Roman and Hobbs GO. TO. TOWN. I’d expect nothing but jokes on jokes on jokes from them, but Dom’s the last comic standing in these eyes because of the F-I-R-E one-liners he delivers during his epic street fight with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).
Okay, context: Early in the film, Shaw pulls a gun on Dom, because he’s not about street fights. He doesn’t shoot him, but only because Mr. Nobody’s team drops in before he’s able to take him down. At the end of the film, the tables turn and Dom’s the one to pull a gun on Shaw. “You thought this was gonna be a street fight,” Dom growls, pointing his weapon up to the sky and firing. “You’re damn right it is.” It’s just so beautiful — as is the brawl that follows with Dom and Shaw swinging wrenches and punches at each other.
It’s set to the most melodramatic music (I hear you and appreciate you, composer Brian Tyler) and the camera is right there, delightfully rolling around in the action. It’s all great, but the real magic happens when Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) sends a missile into the parking garage Dom and Shaw are fighting upon, causing the concrete beneath them to start cracking. “The thing about street fights,” Dom says, with a satisfying smugness, “the street always wins.” Then, he stomps his foot, causing the ground beneath Shaw to break — effectively sidelining the enemy.
The power move is totally badass, and the setup is flawless. When the series leans into that cheekiness — as it’s done more and more, movie after movie (after movie after movie) — it soars like a car leaping through buildings in Abu Dhabi. Moments like that are especially delicious where Diesel is concerned because they’re less expected and frequent, but still expertly, dramatically, and self-awarely delivered.
Honorable mention: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in its entirety. —C. Molly Smith