Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Part of this review will include a spoiler paragraph. I’m sure whoever is reading this has already seen the film but if you haven’t… spoilers… I’ll say when I get into them…
Okay yes, this is super late. I know the film came out last week so we obviously should have had a review out then. But, we are university students. I have exams. Three out of four are done and the fourth one isn’t happening until the 26th so I finally have some free time to write this review. But I mean, let’s be honest here; who would have really thought that a movie about fast cars would spin out (pun intended) into one of the biggest film franchises ever. After 7 movies that consistently reinvent the series, Fast and Furious is back with their eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious. It’s loud, it’s exciting, and it’s… just an okay film. Here’s why!
The Fate of the Furious picks up some time after Furious 7. Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon. Brian and Mia have left the crew to raise their children, and the team has been pardoned for their past crimes. Everything changes however when a shadowy woman named Cipher coerces Dom into working for her. This in turn, forces Dom to betray his moral code and turn on his family. Now, the team faces their biggest challenge yet and must unite to bring home the man that brought them all together and put an end to the chaos Cipher plans to cause.
Family. It’s what each Fast film is about. At its core, the series is about people from all walks of life coming together as one. The Fate of the Furious really drives home the fact that Dom is turning on his family. Seriously, I’m fairly certain almost every scene has one character talk about how important family is. But now, much like what happened with Fast Five, the series decided to change things up, introducing a new spy era and having the guy who talks about family non-stop, go rogue. Unfortunately, this is where the films stumbles. The film tries to establish the Dom-less team by introducing foes who become friends very quickly and a plot that, continuity wise, does not really work. But let’s be real, the main reason people watch these movies is for the action. So, let’s talk about that.
The action in this film is explosive, absurd, and all kinds of fun. The movie manages to outdo its predecessor in the best ways imaginable. Yes, you read that right. Furious 7, which has Dom and Brian flying through three Abu Dhabi skyscrapers, gets out done in this film. From a submarine blasting through the ground in Russia to Cipher literally throwing dozens of cars off buildings, the film does not lack from an action standpoint. The film gets so ridiculous at one point that frankly, you don’t really care about the negatives of the film, you just want to see things blow up. And they do, constantly.
The film also succeeds on the performance side. The real standout of the film is Charlize Theron as the main villain, Cipher. She is devilishly evil as the newest threat the crew faces and her performance was consistently great throughout the film. She is a slippery, sociopath who has the potential to be the best villain the franchise has ever created. The Rock once again kills it as government agent Luke Hobbs. After having more of a reduced role in Furious 7, The Rock brings all the badassery he has to this performance. His actions sequences especially were the most fun as his jailbreak fight and his moments with Jason Statham gave the film some much needed levity. Which leads me to the next best performance. Jason Statham also returns but this time, as a hero! He once again shines as Deckard Shaw, proving to be a great foil for Hobbs and the team.
The crew is rounded out by Ludacris as Tej, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty, Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey and Tyreese Gibson as Roman. Gibson is once again the funniest part of the entire film. His delivery and actions throughout the film make The Fate of the Furious one of the funnier entries in the series.
I decided to give Vin Diesel his own little paragraph because, well because I co-own this site and can do what I want. Okay seriously though, I’m giving Dom Toretto himself his own paragraph because for the first time in the series, I seriously didn’t like his performance. There are spurts where Dom gets to shine as a villain but the writing for his character and the actual performance fell flat for me. I commend the producers for trying something new, but, it wasn’t that great.
Aside from Vin Diesel, the film has some other negatives. The reason why Dom goes rogue is not that exciting. I won’t spoil it here but, not only does it almost not work continuity wise, it isn’t original either. Scott Eastwood debuts as another addition to the team and, while his performance isn’t bad, it’s not great either. He’s the team’s punching bag and he serves his purpose. The pacing was another low point. I haven’t seen a film end so abruptly in a long time. The film has the same time length as previous entries but it felt extremely rushed. It would jump from an action sequence to a couple of lines of dialogue and then right back into another ridiculous action spot in minutes.
Okay so now I’m going to get into some spoilers. If you don’t want to read them, scroll down to the picture of the Rock that will be right below this paragraph.
So, my biggest issue with this film is the fact that Jason Statham is a hero. The reason for this is that Cipher screwed him too, so now the common “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” trope is used. The big twist in the film is that Dom has a son and Cipher has kidnapped him to force Dom to work for her. So, to counter this, Dom gets in cahoots with Deckard Shaw to save his son. Once he does, Dom becomes good again and accepts Shaw into his family. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed his performance, the whole explanation for him being a hero and joining the team is absolutely bizarre. For a team that holds family in such high esteem, it was really weird to see them just accept Statham’s Deckard Shaw onto their team. Granted, there was some slight resentment but that all goes away in the very next scene. I mean seriously, HE KILLED HAN. And the worst part? Dom just accepts him. Despite murdering one of his best friends, Dom accepts Shaw as a member of his storied crew. The writer of the film, Chris Morgan, has stated that Han will have a role to play in Fast 9 and Fast 10. So maybe the team will explain their true feelings about Shaw there. Either way, the whole thing was just weird.
Now, back to the review. I should mention that Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody was fantastic. His character is a welcome addition to the crew.
Much like the rest of the series, The Fate of the Furious takes place in many different locations. The cinematography for this film is incredible. Cities like Havana and New York and the vibrant cultures that come from both are put on full display and gives the franchise a breath of fresh air.
There’s also a surprise character return in the film and it’s a lot of fun. You’ll know it when you see it.
The Fate of the Furious is nowhere near as good as Fast Five, Furious 6 and Furious 7. That doesn’t make it an overall bad film. It’s just not on par with the previous three entries. Despite a convoluted and rushed story, the film has great action set-pieces, solid performances, and takes the franchise in a totally new direction. It may not be the smoothest ride, but you won’t be unsatisfied when leaving the theatre.
Nick’s Rating – 6/10
JJ’s Rating – 5.3/10
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The Fate of the Furious races into theatres on April 14th, 2017