When the series dropped all of the principal cast, and took the street racing franchise to Tokyo, many thought that The Fast and The Furious franchise was dead. Now, eleven years later, the eighth installment of about love, racing, and family, is back in theaters with Fate Of The Furious. Since the name was announced, the fact that this movie isn’t titled F8 Of The Furious, incorporating the number into the title has been extremely bothersome, it just fits so well for these movies, it’s amazing they didn’t go with it. Naming of the film aside however, Fate Of The Furious is every bit the fast paced, and action packed film that its predecessors were. The new film fits right in with the franchise, and features all of the same type of vehicular mayhem, fights, gun battles, and long-winded pep talks about family and doing what’s right, that fans of the universe have come to expect.
While the film follows the same basic premise as all of the other recent installments, bad guy wants something, good guys try to stop them by driving fast, blowing things up, and never letting each other down, the film’s new wrinkle to that dynamic gives it a different feel. Anytime you get to the eighth film, the plot points tend to repeat themselves, but when done well, scan top the film from feeling like a tired retread, and Fate Of the Furious accomplishes that, by switching a few of the good guy, bad guy roles. While it isn’t the first time the franchise has placed one of the Toretto on the opposite side, the film’s decision make Dom the adversary gave the film a different enough feel. The reason for Dom to switch sides is explained, and it is actually a good one. Many have attempted to guess what could make the man turn on his family, but not knowing going in, makes the story better. The plot still centers around the same things the previous films do, so it’s not a wholly original concept, but the films have never been about overly deep plots. The villain, and series newcomer Charlize Theron, is possibly the best antagonist the series has had thus far, as she is more of a bond style supervillain, rather than a mob boss or crime lord. Her character Cipher is still fairly one-dimensional, but the clear-cut plan, as well as the vicious execution, places her above the other standard enemies in the Furious series.
Theron’s portrayal of Cipher is one of the standout aspects, as she is ruthless, manipulative, while having the arrogance the one would expect from a supervillain. All of these elements of the character are executed extremely well by Theron, who seems to embody the character she portrays, which in turn helps make her the best in the series. The returning main cast is great as well, with Vin Diesel getting to play a more aggressive Dom, who still is given plenty of time throughout the film to have his moments where he reminds the audience that he has a code. These moments are staples, and the one on one face offs between characters are littered throughout, and while they are more or less the same as previous ones, if the overabundance hasn’t bothered you before, that won’t change. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continues to impress in his role as Luke Hobbs, and with the previous film’s addition of his daughter to his backstory, Hobbs gets a new layer to his personality, and Johnson is able to shine as a result. His interactions with Jason Statham’s Deckard are some of the funnier moments in the film, as they trade insults and threats of violence at a rapid, and very funny pace. With Dom on the other side, other members of his team are given the chance to get more big moments, which go mostly to Tyrese Gibson, who is as funny as Roman, as he has been in any of the other films. Roman also gets a few big moments of action, which were very welcomed, since he usually gets the short end of the stick. Ludacris and Nathalie Emmanuel, have pretty the much the same roles they have in previous films, and the dynamic that Tej and Ramsey have with Roman is as good as ever. Game of Thrones actor Kristofer Hivju joins in as Ciphers right hand man, and bodyguard, who works well opposite Diesel, and could have been utilized a bit more throughout. Another new face in the franchise is Scott Eastwood, and while he doesn’t particularly stand out as a good addition, he is the butt of several funny bits that run throughout. Unfortunately it does feel like Michelle Rodriguez and Letty get the short end of the stick, given the expanded cast, with her close relationship to Dom, it would seem appropriate that she would kind of take the lead in his absence, but she feels more like a background character than ever before. The film also features the return of Kurt Russell, though in a very limited role, as well as a notable cameo, who should have been in the film a bit more, because they were an absolute delight, even in the small role.
While the plot is largely the same, and the cast for the most part is on par, or better than the previous films, The Fast and Furious has always been about the action, and this one has it. As the previous films have done, Fate ratchets up the intensity to another level, incorporating tanks, submarines, missiles, and as many crashes and explosions as ever before. All the driving sequences are spot on, though many of the best ones were shown off in the trailers, which is a shame, though it’s an understandable drawback to this type of franchise. The variety of vehicles, and the way in which they are used, are always fun, and these are no different, so if all you are coming for is the car stuff, you won’t be disappointed. The hand to hand, as well as the gunplay is also just as good as before, Statham, Johnson, and Diesel have some great fights, most notably Statham and Johnson, whose prison break sequence from the trailer, is great in full.
While much of this film is better than the others, it is also the silliest of the group, as there more than a few groan worthy moments, especially in the beginning, as Dom and Hobbs each have a scene that is pretty cheesy. The start of the film is particularly slow going, and even after Dom turns on the group, the film doesn’t really pick up steam until a little bit later. The ending also suffers from over explanation, and holds the audience’s hand a little too much.
The shortcomings however are covered up by the sheer entertainment of Fate Of The Furious, it is wickedly funny, has some of the best action sequences in the franchise, and does enough to differentiate itself that even with a runtime of close to two and a half hours, it never feels overlong, or boring. It is quite amazing that this far in, the series is still able to produce such an entertaining film, given where many pegged it in mid 2000s. Fate Of The Furious won’t win over many new fans, but those that have been riding shotgun these past 16 years are in for another highly enjoyable ride.