The eighth installment of the ever-popular and universally loved Fast and Furious franchise—The Fate of the Furious—is finally upon us. And I know you love these movies as much as I do because otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this review. Here’s what went down.
Warning! Spoilers ahead! Fast and furious ones! Do not read on if you do not want this fine example of cinematic mastery spoiled before you get a chance to see it!
The film opens with protagonists Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz finally getting some time to themselves and enjoying a picturesque honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. Predictably, they’ve tapped into the incredible Cuban car scene. But after Dom is recruited by a mysterious villainess hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron), he leaves his team—his family—lost, confused, hurt and, most importantly, on the wrong side of the law again. The film again addresses the uncomfortable vigilante conversation of breaking a few laws so Really Bad Things don’t happen in exchange. Things like world domination.
While on the surface The Fate of the Furious seems like just another Mission Impossible meets James Bond action flick, it’s actually much more than that. It explores time-honored concepts such as love, loss and choosing right from wrong—themes that Hollywood has grappled with since the beginning.
Director F. Gary Gray, whose past visionary works include The Italian Job and Straight Outta Compton, ensured that the visuals resonated with the deep emotional impact of the film. The resulting product was a refreshing step away from the morass of the previous two lumbering movies.
If moviegoers leave the shelters of their abodes to be transported into a world of fast-paced automotive chase scenes, gritty fights and florid dialogue (“She’s a digital act of God,”), then the film has accomplished just that. And the formidable cast helps with that as well.
Like it or not, we’ve been with this band of rebel racers—this family—since 2001. That’s longer than some of our kids have been alive (I don’t have kids). We’ve grown with them, celebrated with them and cried with them. Over time, members have come and gone, but the fact remains that we come to see them as much as we come to see the cars.
Jason Statham is merciless as Ian Shaw. The Rock as Luke Hobbs wins fights by simply being big. And Vin Diesel as Dom is what you’ve come to know and expect: the unshakable figurehead of the family, the unmovable foundation from which the difficult choices are made. Up until this point, we haven’t seen anything that really throws him off course. Fate changes all of that with The Big Goddamn Twist.
Gray has taken it upon himself to insert this game-changing Big Goddamn Twist, a seismic ripple that will be felt across all future Fast and Furious iterations. How forthcoming directors will incorporate this into their films remains to be seen.
Regardless of The Big Goddamn Twist, Fate still manages to be light, charmingly breezy and delightfully funny in places. “Rivals” engage in both physical and verbal jousts across the screen, while cheery twists illuminate the seemingly darkest and most hopeless moments.
And my goodness the explosions. Each one is more brilliant and fiery than the last, blowing simultaneous holes in peoples’ days and any lingering viewer doubt that this is anything but the latest and greatest Fast and Furious treasure.
Of course, there will always be logical inconsistencies. Admittedly, these are where Fate is the weakest: perhaps it was due to being completely bamboozled by the forceful impact of the overwhelming color and light, but I walked out of the theater with my mind buzzing with questions. Dom’s past with Cipher is never fully explained. It’s never made clear how Cipher hacks into all the cars in Manhattan to do her bidding—and what happens to them all once she’s finished with them.
But like all of the movies that preceded it, questions like these shouldn’t hinder the overall enjoyment of the film. In fact, I’d argue that temporarily suspending logic has become as integral a part of the franchise as madly shifting automatic cars has.
Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner was noticeably absent but not forgotten. At a moment of despair, someone laments that Brian would know what to do in the situation. Another responds that they can’t drag Brian and Mia into this. And at the very end, the film leaves off with Brian’s legacy living on. It’s a nice message.
What wasn’t so nice was the complete absence of Coronas on the dinner table at the conclusion of the film. What the fuck.
It’s hard to mark exactly where the movies transitioned from merely race-focused ones to the international-heist-war-crime-stopping ones they are now. But like everything else organic and alive in this world, it’s growing and evolving along with the rest of us. The Fast and Furious films are glorious in that regard—they afford both directors and viewers the luxury of dreaming big and wondering if there really is a limit to what can be done.
The Fate of the Furious opens in U.S. theaters on April 14.