The Fate of the Furious Races into Theaters

A cherry red Ferrari jumped across Dubai from skyscraper to skyscraper in the last installment, but somehow we believed that Vin Diesel and Co. had something even bigger up their sleeve. Luckily for us, director F. Gary Gray found a way to raise the stakes even higher in “The Fate of the Furious”, the astounding eighth film in the beloved Fast and Furious franchise.

Opening over spring break on April 14 and riding on the massive popularity and success of the last three films, “F8” brought in $532 million at the global box office, breaking the previous record set by 2015’s “The Force Awakens”. After Paul Walker’s emotional sendoff in “Furious 7”, the entire “familia” returns to lead the charge against someone nobody ever would have predicted: Dominic Toretto, himself. From the first trailer, fans were intrigued and confused as to why the most flawless hero ever, Dom, played by Vin Diesel, would ever go rogue.

I was definitely skeptical as to how this would play out on screen, and felt that the writers might turn for the cliche choice of making the evil Dom a clone that was being manipulated by some sort of advanced technology, but after viewing the film, I am pleased to say that the audience can definitely empathize with why Dom turns heel.

Speaking of advanced technology, Charlize Theron plays Cipher, the main antagonist in the film, and molds the role into a great James Bond-style villain, embracing darker and more intellectual themes than past villains in the franchise. Theron is good with what she is given, but definitely is not as fun on screen as the Shaw brothers (Luke Evans and Jason Statham) from the last two films in the series. The character felt as if she was placed in the wrong franchise.

Jason Statham does reprise his role as Deckard Shaw, however, and he is one of the brightest spots in the film. By far, the best parts of the movie come when Statham and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson are bantering back and forth throughout the film. It never feels old and almost seems like the duo was just roasting one another in real life, unaware that the cameras were rolling. I could definitely see Universal Pictures deciding to greenlight a buddy-cop spinoff featuring only Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) in the near future, especially given the path their relationship takes in this film. If for nothing else, I recommend seeing this movie just for the Rock and his raw humor alone.

What I was most surprised to see was that this installment did not fall to the same tropes that most films would by their third film in a series, let alone their eighth. The humour is still on point, of course provided by Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), and there are plenty of surprises and reveals to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Helen Mirren even makes a cameo appearance! The action only gets bigger and offered some of the most memorable moments by raining self-driving cars in the heart of New York City, and a submarine with nuclear missiles joining in on an intense chase scene across a glacier. “The Fate of the Furious” also returns the series to its roots of an actual street race, the central aspect that the entire series used to center around. It just goes to show how this film series has evolved from being about simply grease monkeys street racing around the streets of Los Angeles and Miami to embracing the over-the-top heist genre, in the vein of ‘80’s action flicks.

The original soundtrack is memorable with some songs that will potentially become summer hits that the radio keeps playing. “Hey Ma” by Pitbull and Camila Cabello and “Speakerbox” by Bassnectar, Ohana Bam and Lafa Taylor in particular, stick in my mind, though the Spanish version of “Hey Ma” is pleasantly reminiscent of the popular “Danza Kuduro” from “Fast Five”. In general, all of the original songs help form the tone in each scene and add to the excitement and “summer feel” of this blockbuster.

Some of the negatives of the film are that it has some pacing issues and gets a little dragged on in the second act, but ultimately I felt that it resolved itself with a strong third act and a jaw-dropping action set piece. The film also can get too over-the-top at times and requires the viewers to suspend their common sense, but I have come to expect that with this franchise, so if you enter the theater knowing that the laws of gravity and physics will not be obeyed, you will have a blast.

While not as perfect as “Fast Five”, “Fast and Furious 6”, or even “Furious 7”, “The Fate of the Furious” is a fun time at the movies and kicks off the summer movie season in style, with innovative action scenes, a catchy soundtrack, compelling surprises, and a truck-load of humour.
Rating: 3.5/5

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