With Fate of the Furious, Vin Diesel takes the wheel of the franchise.
Director: F. Gary Gray/2017
Taylor Blake: Newton’s 1st Law of Physics: An object will continue in its present state of motion or rest unless acted upon by a force.
Newton’s 2nd Law of Physics: The force of an object—oh, who am I kidding? Fate of the Furious throws all of these laws out the window before Vin Diesel has won his first street race. Even though “F8″ is the only Furious movie I’ve seen besides the original, this didn’t surprise me one bit.
Erik Yates: Well, having seen every entry, I can tell you that this series has always been pure escapism, requiring a little suspension of belief in the elaborate stunts, and all the rest. The last two entries in particular have especially pushed the boundaries of believably. With Fate of the Furious, the film reins in some (and I stress the word “some”) of the crazier antics. There aren’t flying cars jumping from airplanes, between skyscrapers, or seemingly 15-mile runways, and this makes for a much better ride. There is still plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that are caused by how ridiculous it is that these characters seem to walk away unscathed despite what you just witnessed on screen. This series is so far removed from the smaller single locale story lines in the first few films that one must push aside the more cartoon-ish stunts and dialogue and embrace the heart of these characters, the humor and interplay between them. This is where it has always worked, and that is still intact. The series’ theme of family, is still beating strong through all 8 films, even if two of the main characters of this family are missing.
Once again we go globetrotting with the pedal to the metal. The stakes are high, the action is non-stop, and this series tries to see if they have anything left in the tank.
As far as plot, here’s the basics:
Fate begins as Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are honeymooning in Cuba, with Brian (the late Paul Walker’s character) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) said to be out of the game (and the film), raising their family. A woman by the name of Cipher (Charlize Theron) emerges and shows Dom a video that causes him to abandon his notion of family and their team of friends, and turn on them all, helping Cipher with a series of heists that threaten the entire world. Enter Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody with his new assistant, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), as they recruit the team of Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), and their previous nemesis, Deckard (Jason Statham), to take on Cipher and stop Dom. Once again we go globetrotting with the pedal to the metal. The stakes are high, the action is non-stop, and this series tries to see if they have anything left in the tank.
TB: Yes, “laugh-out-loud” is an accurate description of my response to some of these scenes. With chases through the city, snow, and sand, Fate finds new ways to get creative just when you think it couldn’t possibly top the gravity-defying stunts in the last race. When Dominic Torreto and his family face off against hacker villain Cipher and her crew, they pull off some of the most ridiculous action I’ve ever seen in a movie—and let’s not forget I laughed my way through the Nicolas Cage Left Behind.
EY: Even with such “ridiculous” stunts, and the like, this entry is easily one of the darkest in tone. This is intentionally done as a transition away from the highly emotional Furious 7, in order to kick off a new trilogy. Vin Diesel has taken over the franchise as not only its star, but also as a producer, helping to shape the story and set it on solid ground as the eighth film comes roaring into theaters this week. Despite an even larger, and more impressive cast, this series is clearly still about Dom. With the passing of series star Paul Walker, who died while filming Furious 7, the final film featuring Walker’s character of Brian roared to a $1.5 billion dollar haul. This was pretty impressive for the seventh entry in a series that began as a simple FBI investigation into a band of street racing thieves.
With Justin Lin directing four of the entries and creating a mini “Furious-verse” to connect all of the films to a larger story line, Walker’s death struck a giant hole into the franchise that threatened the seventh film’s release. The film was finished with the use of already shot footage, CGI, and the involvement of Walker’s brothers who filled in for him in various scenes. Following the massive success of the seventh film, and the outpouring of sentiment from the fans mourning one of the series’ main stars, the question was always going to be, “What now?” With Fate of the Furious, Vin Diesel takes the wheel of the franchise.
Fate is a lot of fun if you accept what you’re going into: An implausible story that spends more time showing cars than anyone spent writing the dialogue.
TB: And while I’m not the best judge for how this installment compares with the others, the energy is impressive for an eighth (!) chapter. Several moments reminded me of 2003’s The Italian Job (a movie I never seem to skip over if I see it’s showing on cable), which makes plenty of sense once you realize the two movies share director F. Gary Gray. Fate is a lot of fun if you accept what you’re going into: An implausible story that spends more time showing cars than anyone spent writing the dialogue. Cipher remotely driving a fleet of “zombie cars” down the streets of New York are more awe-inspiring than Johnson’s, “I will beat you like a Cherokee drum,” line. (Oof.) The real comedic highlight is Gibson, the only actor who thrives in this ridiculous version of our world. Diesel, Rodriguez, and even Johnson feel like remnants of the moodier start this franchise had, but Gibson truly lives in the parallel universe where an orange Lamborghini is the vehicle of choice for speeding across the snow from a nuclear submarine. If you can just forget about that pesky body count you never see, you can probably live there for a few hours, too.
EY: It will definitely be a hit. By dialing back some of the excessively implausible scenes and bringing in a great actress and villain via Charlize Theron’s Cipher, this film landed above film’s 6 and 7 for me, especially watching it on an IMAX screen. Given the massive box office haul of Furious 7, this entry should do well. With plans for 2 more films, we will certainly see more of Dom and the gang, but for a ride lived a quarter mile at a time, this series has gotten a lot of mileage out of its engine. It’s time to hit the NOS, though, as the engine light is now on and there isn’t much time left to get this series across the finish line. As long as the final set of films has some fun and provides the thrills that fans of this series have come to love, then the Fast and Furious franchise will give us a photo finish. But we aren’t there yet, and if Vin Diesel and the gang have anything to say it’s that there is still some tread left on these tires.