For the seventh time (or maybe six — who’s really counting), Dominic Toretto and his band of merry men (and women) are at it again.
The newest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise puts a twist on the familiar “family” plotline and pushes it to the limit. We are introduced early in the movie to a mysterious woman, Cipher (played by Charlize Theron) who gives Dom (Vin Diesel) an offer he can’t refuse and leverages him against his crew by putting him into a world of terrorism that we’ve never seen before.
The idea alone is tough to grasp as the only motivation for loyalty in Dom’s world is those close to him. For a large, large portion of the movie, you’re kept in the dark about why he is forced to go around the world and stealing some government-altering weapons. We won’t ruin why that is the case here, but it is slightly frustrating that they danced around it for so long.
Naturally, his crew is dumbfounded by his actions and they attempt to stop him with the crew they’ve assembled over multiple movies now. Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are all brought in to try and stop Dom.
A familiar face, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new underling Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) brings them all together with a twist: They’re going to enlist the help of prior villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) on the mission. It upsets the crew, but they end up developing a kinship after realizing they’ve all been wronged by Cipher.
All of the beats from prior movies are here, all of the ridiculous action sequences are here. This is what makes the franchise so great. It knows what it is and doesn’t try to change your mind on it all. Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) has plenty of experience in Hollywood and knows how to do these types of films, such as 2003’s The Italian Job. He seemingly draws heavily from that film, a fun heist caper that involved some memorable car chase scenes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the cars and racing in The Fate of the Furious is done well.
Where the film really shines and puts the movie over the top compared to recent action films is the hand-to-hand combat in these movies. While there are moments that make this eighth installment a bit of a shoot-em-up, the fighting and choreography are outstanding. Making it all better (or worse, depending on who you’re talking to) is the fact that a lot of the main characters have endless endurance and super human strength. Hobbs on multiple occasions throws people across the room like a paper airplane. While ridiculous at first, it’s not the first time we’ve seen this from Dwayne Johnson in this series. You’re actually expecting more of it and the action delivers.
The Fate of the Furious also has plenty of cameos to make longtime fans happy, along with plenty of new cameos for those who aren’t necessarily in the loop. This franchise jumped the shark about three or so movies ago, but continuing to crank out movies somehow makes each subsequent episode endearing. The acting won’t knock your socks off and the loose ends are tied up a little too quickly, yet what do you expect? This isn’t going to be nominated for any Oscars. The Fast and Furious franchise has their stars do impossible physical feats every few seconds. Heck, in this film you get Hobbs pushing a submarine torpedo towards another vehicle. If that won’t raise you out of your seat, nothing will.
Your enjoyment of the film will likely have to do with your prior experiences with these movies. Going in with nothing more than an open mind may not be enough. A lot of winks and nods are included in the film. It is a sequel, after all, and if they put exposition in every part of the film explaining who everyone was, the running time would’ve been over three hours long rather than a two-hour, 16-minute run time.
We’ve somehow gone from stolen DVD players to international terrorism over eight films, and fans have accepted that during the ride. But if you just want to have fun at the movies and love action, you’re going to enjoy this. It isn’t one of the series’ best, but is still a great output. Don’t be surprised when you see 10 more of these in the next dozen years.