The Fate of the Furious is the 8th movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. It’s come a long way from its humble street racing beginnings, evolving into an explosive action franchise. The central theme of the franchise in family, and the importance of familial bonds. The Fate of the Furious uses this, once again, as a platform for conflict. After the exceptionally well received Furious 7, I wondered if Universal could justify another sequel. Regardless, we have another. Does The Fate of the Furious defy expectations or edge along mediocrity?
The Destiny of the Upset
The Fate of the Furious centers around leader Dom (Vin Diesel) turning on his crew, working with new villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) for a mysterious reason. When Cipher and her team start making big waves, shady government agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) recruits Dom’s old gang to hunt him down and end the threat.
All the crew are back, including Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Mr. Nobody also recruits Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), whom has a brilliant reintroduction. In a weird turn, the team also groups up with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Shaw played the major antagonist in Furious 7. It was odd how quickly the rest of the team accepted Shaw as a partner, apparently forgetting that he murdered one of their own.
Now that we’ve listed off an excessive amount of players, it’s time to assess the game itself. The Fate of the Furious wraps itself around three major set pieces; an early race in Havanna, a destructive sequence in Manhattan, and an extensive ending sequence among arctic planes. It’s all a big cat-and-mouse game, with the team chasing after Cipher as she and Dom hop from job to job. Although some of the story beats are incredibly well done (specifically Dom’s motivation for betrayal), the film spends far too long dwelling on exposition and build up.
It’s crazy how much the Fast and Furious franchise has changed. In a way, they’ve streamlined the action to appease to a more mainstream crowd. For a franchise that started all about the street racing culture, there’s only one actual race in The Fate of the Furious. Since the franchise has become more complex, relationships have grown and the world has gotten deep. The Fate of the Furious does a good job wrapping in characters from previous films, but does so quickly and without context. I often found myself thinking “That’s cool, but who is that?” when certain characters made their return.
Cameos and twists are cool and all, but the basis on which these beats exist is shaky. The majority of Cipher’s main objectives (which cause the set piece action) are hollow and uninspired. It all feels very run-of-the-mill “spy movie”, complete with nuclear launch codes. The character subplots within the overarching narrative are interesting, but the container is weak and boring.
Look at All These Explosions
I knew it was eventually going to happen, and I’m kind of glad that The Fate of the Furious finally did it. Slowly, the franchise has been disregarding the laws of physics and logic, nearly becoming cartoonish in nature. This film absolutely throws reason to the wind, producing ridiculously entertaining action scenes. The aforementioned set pieces are incredibly fun to watch, I won’t lie. The closing sequence in general makes no logical sense, defying almost all inklings of reason. When you suspend your disbelief enough, these sequences become absolutely fantastic.
Luckily, I saw The Fate of the Furious with an engaged crowd. A lot of the comedy seemed to hit, although some fell flat. The franchise is well known for brief one-liners and quips, mainly coming out of Roman or Tej’s mouth. Hobbs and Shaw get some playful back and forth that’s pretty funny, especially as it becomes more and more juvenile. Funnily enough, the best source of comedy is the action itself.
Audience members laughed along with me as each ridiculous sequences played out. At around the halfway point in the film, the proverbial gloves come off. All the action from that point on is unbelievably ridiculous, and purely for spectacle. Explosions burst consistently, and all manner of vehicles become tools of destruction. The Fate of the Furious is basically one extended destruction derby, interspersed with eruptive flames and occasional story breaks. Some of these breaks last far too long (40 minutes without a single car is unacceptable, guys), but serve a decent excuse for the action. Even the fight scenes and non-vehicle action scenes get super wild. A sequence with Deckard Shaw toward the end of the film reaches levels of absurdity that I haven’t seen since 2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up.
The Bottom Line on The Fate of the Furious
The Fate of the Furious is such a mixed bag that I find it hard to convey. On one hand, the story is incredibly hollow and cliche. On the other, it has impacting and impressive character moments. A lot of the comedy hits, but a surprising amount doesn’t. The key action sequences are both hilarious and exciting, but I often felt like I was laughing at the movie instead of with it. Since Dom is separated from the rest of the crew for most of the movie, there’s a lack of the charm and heartfelt dynamic I’m used to. It feels like something is missing, and a lot of that could be the glaring absence of Paul Walker.
If you go into The Fate of the Furious expecting a serious action film with a gripping plot, you will absolutely hate it. However, completely suspending your disbelief and surrendering to the film’s absurdity will ensure you an enjoyable time. The film lacks the heart of its predecessors, but turns the dial up on the action. I’m hoping the inevitable sequels will dial it back, but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. At its core, The Fate of the Furious is a fun time, albeit a silly one.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Did you see Fate of the Furious? What did you think? Comment below and let us know!