After re-watching some of the most recent entries in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, part of me did wonder if stopping at “Furious 7” wouldn’t have been a bad idea? All the storylines are wrapped up, we got an emotional sendoff to both Paul Walker and his character. Is there much else to tell? Like it or not “The Fate of the Furious” is here to show us why there is more to tell (because apparently this is all going to lead into some sort of trilogy). It’s all nonsense but hey that’s the series! I mean that in a loving way too. It did take me awhile to get behind the franchise. The original “The Fast and the Furious” I don’t mind, it’s a cheap rip-off of “Point Break” but it’s easy to watch. But sequel after sequel I just did not like the movies. I didn’t jump on board with the series until “Fast Five” came out. Since then I have found myself really enjoying the movies for all its brain-dead lunacy.
“The Fate of the Furious” (which surprisingly wasn’t called “The F8te of the Furious”; missed opportunity to put a number where it doesn’t belong) is my least favorite to come out since the fourth movie “Fast and Furious” (which to be fair that movie was a small turning point for the series but I still didn’t like it). That being said, “The Fate of the Furious” is entertaining enough to certainly warrant a trip to the theater to shove popcorn in your face and enjoy the action mayhem that still has a few tricks up its sleeves but does show some signs of wear.
“The Fate of the Furious” picks up in what doesn’t feel too long after the events of “Furious 7”. The crew seems to be hanging low enjoying life, Hobbs fills out his off time coaching soccer and Dom and Lettie are on their honeymoon in Cuba. Suddenly Dom’s world is turned upside down when he runs into a hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron) who forces him to turn on his crew, his team, and his family. Now with Dom rogue, the team has to bring down Dom with the help of some additions including the enemy turned ally Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and a Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood).
So yes, the hook in this movie is that Dom turns on everybody. The muscle-bound street tough that always preaches about family is now on the opposite side of everyone. Why? Well, I won’t reveal it here but there are some clever story angles that did surprise me and added some unexpected dramatic heft. The story isn’t really the main priority when you go to see a “Fast and the Furious” movie but this angle was utilized pretty well. Does it help the movie overall? Maybe, at times. It’s sort of interesting having the most hard-boiled and straight moral character being forced against his friends but it doesn’t always provide the fun or the drama. Sometimes it’s just frustrating, especially when Dom’s actions lead to what could be quite a few civilian deaths by being complacent to some extent. Interesting angle, not always executed well.
But besides that, we’re here for some dumb action and boy does this provide that. This time director F. Gary Grey steps into the directing seat, fresh off his previous film “Straight Outta Compton’ (which should have been nominated for best picture and possibly best-supporting actor for Jason Mitchell). Grey isn’t out to direct another Oscar contender but he does bring his talent to the large-scale action sequences. His fight scenes are not as hyper-edited as James Wan directed his in “Furious 7” and feels more in line with previous franchise director Justin Lin’s approach. There are numerous great chase scenes and fights scene (one involving an army of hacked cars and two involving Jason Statham). Outside of those scenes, everything feels a bit generic and just checking off the box that “Furious” fans have come to expect. The car chases aside from the one scene do feel redundant and the final chase on the ice, while fun doesn’t quite go the extra mile (no pun intended) like the end sequences in the previous three films did. I know this series doesn’t have much logic involved (and that is part of the fun in it) but this stretches my suspension of disbelief. I do also have to ask at what point do these street tough drivers just sign up for the CIA? I feel like at this point they might as well become spies. Perhaps the story grew too big for its own good but it’s beyond that now and it’s smart that the series is embracing what it is now and not trying to rest on the past.
All the characters are as good as you remember. The Rock is so good in this movie, Jason Statham is fun, Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez is good for the role she is given and so on and so forth. Kurt Russell returns and I hope he sticks around in the series. But how are the newcomers? Charlize Theron plays her role with icy good coolness. I can see what she is going for but I think she missed an opportunity to really shine as a villain (but I also think the story let her down a bit), Scott Eastwood could be good but he is pretty pathetic as a character so it’s strange and also insulting to see him standing next to the rest of our “heroes”. Hopefully, the next movie will give him something of a better role. Eastwood plays the part perfectly but the character is just meh. I wouldn’t ever hold this against the movie but the presence of Paul Walker was sorely missed. With Dom going rogue it almost felt more necessary to have Brain O’Conner there but unfortunately, he can’t be. Again I can’t hold that against the movie, they have no choice in the matter, it’s just something I noticed.
But at the end of the day, I did walk away with a smile on my face and had some fun with this movie. There are a few surprises in this eighth film, most of the actors play their parts well, the action is good despite being somewhat overly familiar. I don’t know if we need more but there are a few possibilities “Fate” opens up for the future of the series. I don’t see how this will be the start of a new trilogy like Vin Diesel promised us. The franchise may be running a little low on fumes but if the franchise can provide the fun like “Fate” did then I do look forward to more.