As I sit down to work on this movie review prior to seeing the actual movie itself I think to myself what a wonderful world. LOL. I am kidding. I ponder about what they can do in this outing that hasn’t been done in the previous seven ones. While watching the trailers for The Fate of the Furious on television and having recently taken in parts 6 and 7 on 4K Ultra HD I hear lines of dialogue repeated. It makes me a bit nervous, but the one thing I always manage to do is have fun with this franchise. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting anything less than a good time with this eighth episode in the franchise. Much like attending a Posion concert back in the late 80s you can always count on the Fast & Furious franchise to deliver nothing but a good time. You don’t even need to know about cars. All you need to do is come equipped with the ability to laugh, giggle and excite from the larger-than-life action pieces and humorous one-liners. I think the majority of us can at least do that. What say you?
So in the grand scheme of things and not meant to complicate matters I often get confused on the titles of these movies. For instance The Fate of the Furious is also known as Fast & Furious 8 and Fast 8. One can even take it a step further and just call it F8 for short. Ha ha. You confused yet? Don’t be. I just wanted you to be prepared in case people in your circles call it by different names. The proper name, however, is The Fate of the Furious. I’m all about being proper so that’s how I will be handling the movie’s title throughout the remainder of this review. And now you know. Don’t you feel pumped and primed with that knowledge? That was a rhetorical question. Moving on…
This time out of the gate (kind of a racing term or is that horse racing?) this eighth Fast & Furious film is directed by F. Gary Gray via a screenplay written by Chris Morgan. These features are successful because of the charisma of their cast. Nothing changes here as the filmmakers aim to wow. It’s once again another big, beautiful cast. This big action movie delivers stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren. Those are some heavy hitting names. Usually if your flick has Charlize or Kurt in it, you can call it a day and take it to the bank. But the Fast & Furious franchise doesn’t roll like that. Everything is always bigger and as we all know size matters most in life.
Sad to note though The Fate of the Furious marks the first film of the franchise since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006 not to star Paul Walker. He tragically died in a vehicle crash on November 30, 2013, during the time when Furious 7 was being filmed. Therefore, the dynamics of the Vin Diesel character will be interesting to note here as he always played and fed off Walker and vice versa. Thankfully, as I mentioned up above, the cast is so big there’s extra star power and padding to fill in pretty much every gap. However, as loyal fans of the franchise can attest to, Paul Walker left some pretty big shoes to fill. So in addition to recapping the movie below we’ll also talk about how successful Universal was or was not in that regard. We did our homework so let’s get started with things now! Gentlemen start your engines! Vroom…
One thing the Fast and Furious franchise never disappoints on is all the exotic locations they take you to. You can almost obtain some culture by watching the past three installments. Now that they are free and not wanted criminals anymore after the sixth film they are pretty much free to go where they want. Maybe I should say instead of where they want how about where the work takes them to? Continuing with that grand tradition of the past several films The Fate of the Furious takes us to several locales and even a white, frozen one. When I refer to the frozen one I don’t mean my hometown of Cleveland, OH, but fret not they stopped there too. Principal photography began in March 2016 in locations such as Mývatn, Havana, Atlanta, Cleveland and even New York City where Vin Diesel promised us after the seventh film we were headed.
So here’s the deal folks. Yes, Paul Walker is gone. No he is not coming back. Yes, his name was mentioned in the film, but under no circumstance should you enter this with the belief the family is dead. Oh no! You would be so wrong with that way of thinking. The family is stronger and bigger than ever in The Fate of the Furious and I’m here to tell you it’s SERIOUS F-U-N. Yes, the physics and reality of it all are completely over-the-top and unbelievable (some even boldly call it Matrix-like), but it’s also a mandatory commitment that when you sit down to watch a Fast & Furious film you leave all logic checked at the door. These films although released in April are very much summer action blockbusters and they are meant as an escape from the majority of our dull, boring lives. Now when I say the family gets bigger here let me tell you why I say what I do.
I’m going to be vague here intentionally as I’m not going to tell you who all the major players or what their motivations are to prevent any unwanted spoilers, but I wanted to clear up this notion that the family is fractured here because of no Paul Walker. My biggest concern before diving into this feature is why does Dom (Vin Diesel’s character) go rogue and what caused this. Even bigger than that was the doubt as to whether or not I would believe this transformation of thought too. The last thing I wanted is another rushed Revenge of the Sith kind of storyline from this franchise. Thankfully, I sincerely believe Dom’s justifications for what he does works exceptionally well. Is it far fetched at times? Of course it is, but may I remind you that we checked our logic at the door before coming in here? Now I know I got a bit off topic, but this really does all relate to family. We can’t call Brian (Walker’s ex character) for help anymore, but we can call in the reinforcements. And what I mean by that is there’s a slew of both old and new characters returning here. Now let me expand upon that for one second.
First of all the family that we have globe trotted with the past three films are all back here minus Brian, Mia, Gisele (Gal Gadot’s character) and one of my personal faves, Han. That much I can tell you. I can also tell you fans of The Rock who wished he would have been a larger part of Furious 7 definitely won’t be disappointed here. Finally, there’s Jason Statham. He alone carries the weight of no Paul Walker. There are a lot of other surprises, cameos from the past films and whatnot, but let’s focus on Statham and The Rock for one moment. I keep telling you the family gets bigger and I really do mean it. This film unlike the others is not a Dom/Brian bromance. Even if Brian was a character in this film, which he is not, this film would still be different. Dom has gone rogue. Dom is an enemy of the team we love so much. Furthermore, Deckard (Statham) and Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) like it or not must put their differences aside temporarily and work together to as they say it save the world. Now I mentioned newbies and there are those here too.
Old characters and new like the ones portrayed by Eastwood and Mirren for example must work together if they want to stop a nuclear armed submarine from wreaking havoc overseas. It’s the way these characters are introduced and mingle with the fan favorites that’s so refreshing here. They could have just dropped them in without a care in the world, but that would be so un Fast & Furious like of the filmmakers. Part of the charm and what has made this franchise so successful is its likable characters. Take for instance the wild charisma and comedic antics of Tyrese Gibson. I alone could spend hours watching him hilariously banter back and forth with Scott Eastwood’s character. But the yin yang of the team has to be Hobbs and Deckard here. They trade insults and threats left and right and at one moment in time even share laughs over how outrageous their quips really are. Move over Brian and Dom because there’s a new bromance here in town and I for one really hope it carries over to the next film in the series, but only time will tell.
I kind of feel like I spent the past several paragraphs telling you why I liked The Fate of the Furious so much rather than even giving you a glimpse of what it’s all about so let me do my best to rectify that situation here. There’s no doubt about it that Dom’s character goes rogue. To keep it very simple he turns into a very bad, bad man. This all happens while he’s on his honeymoon with Letty (Rodriguez) too. I won’t tell you all the reasons why, but just rest assured he has his own motivations to take care of before the team’s. Now with that being said Dom gets himself into some very bad business, even nuclear too. It’s up to Hobbs, Mr. Nobody (Russell) and the rest of the team to figure out how to stop him. That’s what makes this film so damn fun and interesting. Dom is one of them so he knows all their tricks. How do you stop someone like that who knows your every move and how you think? Well remember I said the family gets bigger here? There’s a reason I keep pounding that point in. Friends and adversaries old and new must come together to not only stop and detain Dom, but catch the ever elusive Cipher (Theron) who controls Dom just like a puppet on strings. Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen this woman is “nasty.” She’s cut throat and by no means would you ever want to cross her. You’ve been warned.
Now what would a Fast & Furious film be without over-the-top action, carnage and mayhem? Well for starters it would not be a Fast & Furious film that’s for damn sure. Like all sequels the body count is higher and the stakes are greater. However, unlike let’s say John Wick: Chapter 2, The Fate of the Furious doesn’t lose its entertainment factor, never wallows too long in its own feces and does what I described best before. It makes you forget about all the problems you have in everyday life. Sure it’s not perfect. There are some lulls and pacing issues, but by the film’s fiery/snowy conclusion I am left with a smile on my face and in my world that’s truly all that matters. The action and thrill ride of it all are insane here from hijacking a fleet of self driving cars to driving a million dollar Lamborghini on ice with hopes of stopping a nuclear submarine. That’s insane and ludicrous folks! But it’s the way that it’s executed with pizazz, fun and humor that make The Fate of the Furious an out of the ballpark grand slam for me. Yes, I’m probably rating this higher than everyone else, but dammit I had FUN with this one and I’ll be the first to admit I can’t wait for the ninth installment. Truth be told I hope I’m saying the same thing after The Last Jedi this December. Ha ha. Enjoy!