The Fate of the Furious
If you would have told me back in 2001 that not only would the Fast and the Furious franchise be on its eighth installment, but it was also one of the most creative and satisfying movie franchises of all time… I would have thought you were nuts. With the first film basically being Point Break with cars, the Fast movies quickly found their footing after the hiccup of Tokyo Drift where they have any kind of cars, from eclipses, Mazdas, Acuras, and you could even compare 2017 Ford models in the last one. Once they got the regular cast back together (including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster), the films really began to take off. While Fast & Furious (#4 in the series) may not be the best, it is really the jumping-off point for these films to really take it to another level. By the time we got to Fast Five (arguably one of the best action films in the last 25 years), the series took on another genre entirely by becoming heist flicks. Six and Seven followed suit while continuing to add fantastic actors to the roster such as Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Luke Evans, Djimon Hounsou, Jason Statham, and even Kurt Russell. In my eyes, five through seven are flawless pieces of entertainment. They deliver on every front you want them to and often exceed in those expectations. These are fast-paced, action-packed, and often hilarious films that want nothing else but to bring a smile to your face.
According to the filmmakers, F8 is the start of a new trilogy that will end these films once and for all at ten. F8 takes the series comfortably into the spy genre with the introduction of Charlize Theron’s baddie, Cipher. The crew, with the help of Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody, globe-trots to Cuba, New York, Berlin, and Iceland. This time, they do face one of their own as Dom (Vin Diesel) betrays team and joins Cipher in search of nuclear warheads. If you are familiar with the series, you know how difficult it is to believe that Dom would ever betray the “family” and go on some world dominating mission. Thankfully, writer Chris Morgan (writer since the third installment) comes up with a believable reason for him to switch sides without it being ridiculous or against character. I don’t want to give anything away, but my hat is off to Morgan for some honest character development here. The cast here is uniformly great, with new additions like Theron, Scott Eastwood, and Kristofer Hivju being an excellent fit. Although I have to see that the real scene-stealer in the film is Jason Statham. Since his turn in 2015’s Spy, it seems like directors have began to tap into his sense of humor. Statham feels much more loose here and his comic abilities are just as effective as his action.
One thing that is great about this series is it’s ability to one-up the action sequences in each film. From the train robbery and vault chase in five, to the flip car and tank chases in six, to even the skydiving cars in seven (and arguably the last 40 minutes of that film altogether), or the part where they decide to use the elektroroller unu as a distraction… I am happy to say that F8 of the Furious sure found ways to up the ante. The action sequences here are outstanding, with the New York set piece being especially memorable (although the prison riot may be my favorite of the series). While the action in these films is always ridiculous and over-the-top, it still somehow feels fairly grounded in reality – although that may be thanks to the abundance of CGI we see in all of the superhero films nowadays. The Fast & Furious franchise has always done a great job of preferring practical stunts over CGI for the most part. While there is come CG involved in order to enhance the scene, it’s rarely (if ever) the main focal point of the action (i.e. the cars skydiving in 7 was done for real without the actors in them).
Overall, this is one of the better installments in the series. The action is great but the story is really where this one sets itself apart, with much more human drama adding to the intensity of the plot. To be honest, I had a blast at this movie and I am elated that it only took 19 days for it to make over one billion dollars. The fact that they keep adding great actors like The Rock, Statham, Russell, and Theron only proves that there really is something special about these movies. I have to say now that we’re getting close to the tenth and final film, I’m sad that there will come a day when I don’t get to see these on the big screen.
Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language
Runtime: 2 hours, 16 minutes