It’s almost hard to believe that a movie, which originally started out as a story about street racers stealing DVD players, would develop into an eight-movie, billion dollar franchise. Chris Morgan, who has been the screenwriter since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), has somehow found a way to make each following installment even more ridiculous than the last, yet somehow just as fresh. If you’ve been following since Fast Five (2011), you know exactly what to expect at this point: car porn, explosions, outrageous stunts and family. The Fate of the Furious (2017) puts all of these elements into fruition and the outcome is glorious.
Following the events of Furious 7 (2015), Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are shown vacationing in Cuba’s capital city, Havana. While taking in all of what Cuba has to offer, which may involve a street race or two, Dom is introduced to a woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron). This broad just happens to be one of the most notorious hackers in the world, and what she reveals to Dom instantly persuades him to go rogue against his family.
What ensues after Cipher’s brainwash is a two-hour rollercoaster ride of action that takes the unimaginable and turns it into reality. From zombie cars to a Lamborghini skidding on ice while evading a Russian submarine, nothing is left to the imagination. The only place left to go is space itself.
While Dom is away, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) steal the show. Their chemistry together is a delight. Also returning are Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanual). Kurt Russell’s character, Mr. Nobody, also makes a return along with his new protegé (Scott Eastwood). Once together, the manhunt for Dominic Toretto begins.
It’s very easy to go into this movie expecting a train wreck, and rightfully so. This group of local street thugs have basically turned into international superheroes fighting against cyber-terrorism, all while attempting to save the world. As ridiculous as that sounds, the execution from script to screen is nothing short of impressive. Director F. Gary Gray, the man responsible for Friday and The Italian Job, somehow found a method to Morgan’s madness.
The one thing that this movie does extremely well is encapsulate its identity as a heavy hitting action blockbuster. Turning Dom against his team could’ve easily given writers the opportunity to give audiences a convoluted, psychological mess that rubbed fans the wrong way. Instead, what’s presented is merely a simple plot device that progresses the story for the sake of moving the film along. It doesn’t require too much thinking, it’s just something that’s accepted.
With that being said, “just accepting” some of these plot points are what drag the film down, unfortunately. Not with the action, but with the character motives and continuity. Most notably with Deckard Shaw. In Fast & Furious 6 (2013), it’s revealed during a post-credits scene that Shaw was the man responsible for Han’s (Sung Kang) death in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. It’s evident that family is the root holding this group together, however it seemed odd that they’d just willingly allow the murderer of their fallen comrade to breathe in their presence.
Nevertheless, there’s way too much awesome happening in the background to really pay any mind to character development (or lack there of). Did I mention how great Johnson and Statham were together? It’d be smart to let the Toretto arc rest and just let Hobbs takeover as the face of the franchise. The charisma and personal flavor that Johnson brings to the character is electric and refreshing. Something Diesel’s character lacks.
Don’t count on the Furious franchise to pump the brakes anytime soon. With The Fate of the Furious nearing a billion dollars at the worldwide box office (for the second film in a row), you can bet that this family is far from broken.
FINAL SCORE: C+