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The Fate of the Furious opens a new chapter in the franchise, fueled by the same infectious cast chemistry and over-the-top action fans have come to expect.
The Fate of the Furious opens a new chapter in the franchise, fueled by the same infectious cast chemistry and over-the-top action fans have come to expect.
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All Critics (279)
| Top Critics (46)
| Fresh (187)
| Rotten (92)
Like a good car the series needs all of its parts to work. And also like a car, if you keep adding more parts, it only works better. (I know nothing about cars.)
Just when the Fast-and-the-Furious-on-Ice finale threatens to drag on past the point of action-setpiece endurance, director F. Gary Gray has the grace to send a supercar from heaven as an actual answer to prayer.
The Fate of the Furious offers everything you might want from the series, but those offerings are beginning to look ever so slightly stale.
You know what you're getting before you go, and you get it.
If you're not interested in seeing a fleet of cars get chased across a frozen lake by a Russian submarine, that's between you and your maker. As long as you are, [Fate] is a wildly entertaining thrill ride that never lets its foot off the gas.
If the fate of the Furious series is to grow somehow both wearier and dumber with age, then the eighth film is proof of a mission firmly accomplished. And there's no shame, Vin, in hanging it all up after a job well done.
At this point, the Fast & Furious franchise represents something like the longest ironic joke ever told to global movie audiences.
How many franchises in their eighth entry up the ante not just in explosions and cars, but also in how it defines its core thesis and the makeup of the audience it services?
The action comes in almost mind-numbing waves, not really giving audiences a chance to appreciate some of the film's finer moments.
It does keep the engine idling on the brand for another few years, but things are starting to get a little tired, like maybe we've gone a bridge too furious.
Though [the film] does begin to show some signs of weakness, it still manages to be at least as satisfying a blockbuster as its last three outings.
The Fate of the Furious proves that the franchise isn't running on empty, but its issues certainly makes you think that the creative team of the series have tried to tinker too much with an engine that was running perfectly before.
Wow so here we are huh, the eight movie in the franchise, this thing just keeps on goin' doesn't it. Obviously by now the entire population of this little blue planet knows how this shitshow works, its not to be taken seriously...at all. Yet despite that clear cut fact I cannot help but tear the opening sequence of this movie apart, and here we go.
It begins in Havana, Cuba where Toretto and Letty are having their honeymoon. Conveniently Toretto's cousin is also in Cuba and is having some debt issues with some local petrolhead. Luckily this all takes place at an auto show (randomly in the middle of the city) which is filled with hot women that are basically half naked (won't someone think of the children?). The perfect scenario for Toretto to show his stuff...aww yeah. So Toretto challenges this young guy with a super modified car to a race to get his cousin outta trouble. Unfortunately Toretto only has his cousins broken down wreck of a car to use. No worries, Dom fixes it up within five minutes (mainly using 'Cuban NOS'? Any different to regular NOS?) and its ready to roll.
What follows is essentially the backbone of the franchise, how it all started, a gritty illegal street race. They throw this in at the start just to remind you of the franchises roots before it goes all [i]xXx[/i] and [i]Mission: Impossible[/i] on you. Yeah so they have this illegal street race through Havana. All the traffic is stopped merely by two motorbike riders who follow the race and block junctions. Miraculously there are no accidents with other traffic users and absolutely no police presence anywhere. The two cars tear up the city streets with Toretto eventually winning the race in a shit heap that is actually on fire. But no worries because xXx manages to dive out of the car (at top speed) just before it hits a concrete barrier, flies into the air, explodes and lands in the sea. Naturally good old Dom sustains no injuries whatsoever.
As said, this is what we're dealing with now with this franchise, complete disregard for anything actually based within the realms of reality (although this isn't the first time, but its gotten way worse). It also makes it very hard to review such a movie because we all know this. We all know its not supposed to be a serious movie, we all know its throwaway popcorn trash that exists purely to provide Bay-esque visuals. So of course on that front the movie succeeds in every aspect, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The flip side is how far can this be pushed before it just becomes fucking ridiculous. The answer to that is of course about four movies ago.
Essentially this movie is now practically a superhero flick. All the characters are pretty much invincible and I doubt any will ever be killed off. Hell, if Paul Walker hadn't actually died in real life then I'm sure his character would still be alive and well with the others. But this is a major problem with the franchise (alongside so many other problems). You just don't care about the characters because you know they're invincible. There's no way any of the main protagonists will die, no flippin' way. Even when one does get killed in this movie they end up coming back. All this does is equal zero tension, zero thrills and zero risk. Fuck me even the villain is too big to get killed off it seems, future sequels are gonna have impossibly large casts.
And what is the antagonists goal here exactly? The big bad villain (female of course, Charlize Theron) wants to start off a world war I believe it was, why? And in order to do this she needed Toretto's help to get some vital bits and pieces in order to activate a nuclear sub and start a nuclear war. She couldn't do this herself with her henchmen? And in order to keep Toretto under control she kidnaps one of his ex-girlfriends who is pregnant with his child that he knows nothing about. Convenience much??!! I guess you could say she's lucky Toretto is even bothered about this considering its his ex.
There is so much stupidity and deus ex machina in this movie its painful, so very painful. The way characters (Toretto) seem to just have secret rendezvous or help outta nowhere, like magic, only to be explained towards the end of the movie. Yeah because that's really clever. There are numerous car chase sequences that are essentially fights with various vehicles, its like watching [i]Transformers[/i]. Each vehicle also seems to represent its driver so Dwayne Johnson naturally drives a huge, hulking 4x4 jeep thing that probably has really shitty fuel economy and moves like a bus. Its also apparent that in these sequences the hero vehicles don't sustain damage...until its clearly unavoidable (because product placement). The same is often seen with weapons, in other words Dwayne Johnson is always seen with a huge shoulder cannon type thing (what's he compensating for?).
Then of course you have the finale where they all take on a nuclear submarine and we see a sequence which is pretty much straight outta the school of escaping 'Prometheus' style. Toretto survives a massive blast from a heat-seeking missile striking the sub (as do all their vehicles apparently). Roman is even more of an unfunny idiot but unfortunately doesn't get killed here. Other characters from previous movies such as Tej and Frank Petty merely make up the numbers and continuity. Scott Eastwood is in here for no particular reason, I genuinely don't know why he's there. Statham does the same shit as before and some others pop up blah blah blah, who cares. Oh and Toretto names his son (from the ex) Brian after Walker's character, even though in the movie Brian isn't dead sooo...why?
One of the [b]main[/b] problems with this movie (and some others) is the fact that you kinda have to know the previous movies to get everything. Bottom line this is not a good stand alone movie, its not a good movie but even more so because you gotta know the backstories to a degree. Other than that its not much different from the [i]Transformers[/i] franchise for me, just glossy garbage that ticks all the correct boxes. The epitome of modern movies.
Despite some plot holes, the Fate of the Furious is able to inject a good amount of fun and excitement towards a franchise already fueled by its over-the-top action sequences and it's cheesy dialogue. The film's star-studded team in front and behind the camera continue to boost this high-octane ride and add more depth into this juggernaut known as the Fast & Furious. 4/5
Since the beginning of this franchise over 16 years ago, this crew has been through street racing, bank robbing, pulling a plane out of the sky, and dropping from a similar plane in the sky. It has been clear throughout every instalment that these films are just going to get more ridiculous. The main question most people will have when going into this film, is why they decided to continue without one of its core protagonists in Brian O'Connor in the forefront. Although he is sorely missed throughout the entire duration of this instalment and there is a clear missing link, I won't lie and call this film a complete waste of time, because I will admit that I had an absolute blast from beginning to end. The Fate of the Furious doesn't do anything new for the franchise, but it's a welcome entry that gives you just enough emotional depth if you have been following this franchise since 2001.
Shown in the trailers, the plot of The Fate of the Furious is that Dom goes rogue, going against his passion for family. Here is where the biggest issue with the film occurs, because there is a much larger play going on behind the scenes that can't be spoiled. For that reason, the trailers don't really do this film justice to say the least. I have to get it out there that this film is much better than what the trailers lead on, but also more ridiculous as well. As long as you can buckle up and be ready for the most ridiculous action yet, I believe you will have a blast with this storyline, while also being treated with quite a few heartfelt moments that this series has based its core story around (family).
When Paul Walker sadly passed away during the filming of Furious 7, it was apparent that this series was going to have to make a few course corrections. Without giving anything away, there are acknowledgements to Walker's character in Brian, but he is never shown. It is kept vague, while also introducing many new characters (namely Scott Eastwood) to fill the void. There are moments that seem as though the character of Brian may be dead, but many that also insinuate that he is off living a happy life with his family. I quite enjoyed this aspect, due to the fact that is can be seen both ways, keeping his absence tasteful. The newcomers in Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, and a few returning characters were all welcome additions in my opinion.
This franchise has always wanted to go as far as possible from its street racing roots. It has an overwhelmingly new-found success with its heist and over-the-top action sequences, that I fear it will never return. The best thing it has done in this regard is at least include one race sequence in each film, to keep all fans happy. Of the new generation of films in this franchise, I believe The Fate of the Furious may just have the best one yet. Truly going back to its roots, this film begins with a race that average viewers can have a blast with and the classic fans will be eating up.
Since Fast Five, the macho aspect of Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs, comedic interaction between the rest of the crew, and the over-the-top action sequences are truly what makes this film hundreds of millions at the box office. Yes, having the family aspect is what grounds these films in reality in between set pieces, and this film may just have the darkest moments in terms of family to date. Fans definitely receive all of the above and more throughout The Fate of the Furious, but to be perfectly honest, you have to watch these films as if you are sitting in the theatre watching a Marvel film. There are just too many unbelievable things to really latch onto anyone here. I've immensely enjoyed almost every film up until this point, and even I believe the action is at its peak. I am actually a defender of this over-the-top action, but I don't think they should be going any bigger than this, because they may just begin to lose their fan base.
If the reality of these films are what made them as popular as they are, this film would've received a failing grade from me, but at this point, if you aren't up for anything, then you simply shouldn't be watching this series anymore. The family aspect is still very much present, they are doing their best to make up for clear absences in their family, the action is as fun as ever, and the dialogue is as cheesy and laughable as ever. You'll either embrace it and love where this franchise is headed or find yourself cringing and wishing that Furious 7 should've been the conclusion. The way I now see it is that Brian has moved on from this lifestyle and Furious 7 ended a chapter in the never-ending novel that seems to be Fast & Furious.
This film will not win anyone over who hasn't seen the original seven films, but hardcore fans will eat it up and appreciate the nods and twists throughout. Although it's scarily close to jumping too far over the shark, it hasn't quite done it yet. If you are a fan, I definitely recommend going to check out this bombastic addition to the franchise. It's the darkest, most ridiculous chapter in the franchise, but also has some of the most fun sequences and emotional moments. The final sequence of this film made me feel something that I didn't think I would when going into this film, but I found myself pleasantly surprises. I'm a sucker for these films, so I will probably rate it higher than most, but for what it's trying to accomplish, The Fate of the Furious is pure blockbuster entertainment. For that, it gets the job done wonderfully.
I've written before that all I demand from the ever-ascendant and popular Fast and Furious franchise are its eye-popping action set pieces that teeter into madcap lunacy and impressive stunt work. A fiery meteor could crush all the characters, short of The Rock, and I wouldn't shed a tear. Despite the super serious plaudits about the importance of family and loyalty and blah blah blah, I'm only here for the action spectacle that obliterates the laws of physics. I've said before there's a fine line between stupid action and stupidly awesome action, and the Fast and Furious franchise has planted its flag like few others. Nobody today goes to the level of action spectacle that the Fast and Furious films achieve, bringing to life exciting action set pieces that feel fully plucked from the imagination of an exuberant child, and I don't mean that at all disparagingly. These movies deliver like few others nowadays. We're a long way from undercover cops and underground street racing. Vin Diesel and his team are essentially superheroes and their power involves doing amazing things with cars. I'm not a gearhead, I don't care a lick about automobiles, but I've come to eagerly anticipate this franchise. It delivers ridiculous action on a ridiculous scale like few others. It's earned my confidence. The Fate and the Furious, the eighth film, still delivers the high-octane goods even if it can't quite keep up with the best of the franchise's entries.
Dom (Diesel) has been preaching the virtues of family for years but now he's turning his back on them. The notorious cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) extorts Dom into helping her get her hands on nuclear codes. Dom's crew (The Rock, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel) is wondering whether the man they know is still there. Government agent M. Nobody (Kurt Russell) reassembles the team to track down Dom, and they're working with some unexpected help. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) has been released from maximum-security prison to thwart Cipher.
This is a franchise that soared to new heights of commercial success after it left behind its inhibitions of the imagination. It's a franchise that lives or dies depending upon its giddy action set pieces. As I wrote about Furious 7: "The set pieces of the last few films have been stunners, and at its height, the franchise can make you feel giddy like a child watching the unreal unfold with such delight. There's a tremendous and infectious high watching a well-executed action scene on such a large scale. With every movie our expectations are hungrier, and the franchise has found a way to satiate our action movie demands." Fortunately for the eighth film, there are two standout action set pieces that are some of the stronger ones in the history of the franchise. The first is a car chase through New York (though filmed primarily in Cleveland) that builds and changes as it continues, an essential element for any great action sequence to stretch forward. At one point Cipher takes control of an armada of hackable, self-driving cars and pilots them as a collective weapon of mass destruction. They resemble a herd of runaway bulls. The destructive fleet leads to some impressive sights such as a bevy of cars plummeting from a parking garage. It's a strong sequence that also finds room for the other characters to try and take down Dom, and it allows Dom the ability to outsmart them, adding the personal element. The other standout is the entire third act set around the Arctic Circle in Russia that climaxes with the dizzying heights of a nuclear sub chase and The Rock manually redirecting a speeding torpedo. There are multiple points of action and mini-goals that lead logically to the next, allowing escalation to mount. It's dangerously over-the-top even for this franchise and it's generally awesome and I loved it.
Eight movies in and Fast and Furious is really becoming an expansive ensemble series. The core team has been picking up players here and there with each additional movie, building its diverse definition of a diverse family. This is getting to be a crowded film and there's just not enough room to go around for everyone to contribute meaningfully, which means it's more likely from here on out, unless there is some judicial pruning, that characters stay religiously archetypal. Ludacris is the tech guru, but isn't Emmanuel now also the tech guru, or does she only specialize in the tech subgroup of hacking? Why do I need Scott Eastwood (The Longest Ride) to join the gang as the awkward rookie trying to look cool? Isn't that a milder version of what Tyrese Gibson offers as the comic relief bravado? Admittedly, I only started really paying attention to this franchise once it added The Rock, but I'm still unsure what Rodriguez brings to the dynamic beside history and romance. This general sense of the characters settling into their expected roles is exemplified in the in-car banter and one-liners. It appears often that they're just talking to themselves for these lines. I could do with far less Tyrese reaction shots and Rodriguez one-liners. Theron is also generally wasted as the new villain du jour. She's got the icy glare down and looks to be having fun, but she's not given anything interesting to do. Without going into greater spoilers, I will say that Dom's heel turn is wrapped up by the end of its 135-minute running time. No need to turn it into a multi-film arc.
Paul Walker's character is understandably absent and I'd hate for them to bring him back after the very sweet and surprisingly poignant sendoff at the end of Furious 7, but he does still exist in this universe. I can agree with characters not wanting to get him involved in their dangerous missions across the globe, but at the end when they're all dining as one big family, wouldn't they also invite Dom's sister, brother-in-law, and their children too? It gets into the Avengers territory where you start wondering why the Avengers haven't assembled for the world-destroying threats from their respective solo film adventures.
The best post-Rock addition to the franchise has easily been Statham (Spy) and he proves it with his limited but highly entertaining time on screen. His appearances were a fun disruption in the previous film and he served as the most formidable villain. Reintegrating him onto the team was a smart move because he adds charisma, unpredictability, and a new dynamic that also seeds conflict. It was also smart because more Statham means including hand-to-hand combat action sequences that can involve a higher degree of stunt choreography, even if the former Transporter is starting to show his age. His scenes with The Rock were a natural highlight. However, adding Deckard onto the team to tackle a bigger baddie presents some weird questions. By the film's end, everyone seems rather chummy with the man who straight up murdered their friend Han (Sung Kang). Sorry dude but it seems like everyone is rather relaxed with your murderer and big government having unlimited and regulation-free surveillance powers. My advice to future Fast and Furious installments, and there will be various, is to try and include as much Statham as possible (it's essentially a repeat of The Rock Rule).
Where the movie has rougher terrain is in the area of drama and comedy. Look, nobody is going to confuse the Fast and the Furious films as great works of human drama. Director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton) takes over for James Wan (The Conjuring) who took over for Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond), and the discrepancy is noticeable. While having two excellent set pieces that place highly along the big board of the franchise, they're not as well shot. Gray's command of visuals is more than adequate but lacks the sizzle and vision of his predecessors. Wan was able to adopt the house style of the franchise and deliver a satisfying though lesser experience (Lin is king). Gray has a harder time with the material. The CGI approaches cartoon levels at points and Gray doesn't better maintain tone. He doesn't know when to pull back, which is unusually exemplified in the comedy asides. Everything that gets a laugh will be repeated until it becomes somewhat annoying, in particular a scene with Statham and a baby. It begins fun and cheeky, and Statham even uses the baby carriage as part of the fight choreography, but then it overstays its welcome like the other comedy bits. The dramatic moments are also far too overwrought, even for this franchise. It can be a bit much.
This is a franchise that revels in the ridiculous, that embraces being a big dumb action movie in the best way, delivering imaginative and often eye-popping action that deserves the full big screen treatment. Fate and the Furious falls somewhere in the middle of the franchise from a quality standpoint. It's not as good as seven, which wasn't as good as six, which wasn't as good as five, but it's still good enough. It's definitely lesser and the new director doesn't have the same natural feel for the preposterous as previous directors, and even after eight films I'm still mostly indifferent about the far majority of the characters on screen. As I've written before, though, thankfully the movie has the good sense to know what the audience is paying to see. It's here for the fast cars, eye-popping stunts, and gratuitously framed camera angles highlighting women's derrieres (I think there's a contractual law that a close-up of booty shorts must make a grand entrance in the opening minutes of every film). Fate and the Furious is just enough of what I want from the franchise, though it's getting harder to keep up with every new movie. Furious 9 and 10 are already in the works, and it's only a matter of time before we get Fast and Furious in Space. It's getting further and further removed from a sense of reality but as long as it keeps up with incrementally raised expectations and employs enough charming actors to compensate for Diesel's enormous lack of charisma, then they'll keep fans like me happy in the short run.
Nate's Grade: B
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