The Fate of the Furious Review
Directed By: F. Gary Gray
Written By: Chris Morgan
Runtime: 136 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language
Vin Diesel – Dominic Toretto
Jason Statham – Deckard Shaw
Dwayne Johnson – Hobbs
Charlize Theron – Cipher
Michelle Rodriguez – Letty Ortiz
Kurt Russell – Mr. Nobody
Tyrese Gibson – Roman
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – Tej Parker
Nathalie Emmanuel – Ramsey
Scott Eastwood – Eric “Little Nobody” Reisner
Elsa Pataky – Elena
Kristofer Hivju – Connor Rhodes
The Fast & Furious franchise is back for another ultimate thrill ride with The Fate of the Furious. This time, things get more personal than ever as longtime franchise hero, Dominic Toretto (Diesel), is set against his Fast Family. Thankfully, the proceedings are elevated by a topnotch performance by Charlize Theron as the new villain Cipher, along with lots of riveting action sequences.
Picking up sometime after the events of Furious 7, Dom and Letty (Rodriguez) are finally enjoying their long-awaited honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. Despite a death-defying car race with a local hood, things are pretty peaceful and serene for the happy couple after their hard-fought reunion. Unfortunately for Dom, things take a turn for the worse after he runs into a dreadlocked blonde known only as Cipher (Theron). Cipher has come to recruit Dom for the strict purpose of betraying the one thing that matters the most to him–family. With some very mysterious leverage, Dom betrays Team Fast & Furious for an op that involves securing a powerful EMP device in Berlin, throwing Luke Hobbs (The Rock) to the wolves for incarceration. Of course, this isn’t a prison break buddy comedy starring The Rock and Jason Statham, whose Deckard Shaw from Furious 7 is conveniently stationed right across from Hobbs’ own prison cell. Thanks to the machinations of CIA suit Nobody (Russell), and his new associate Eric Reisner (Eastwood), Hobbs and Shaw are granted release from prison. Their mission? Work with Team Fast & Furious to take down Cipher and of course, the team’s now turncoat leader Toretto. However, Cipher and Dom are far from done. Cipher’s next target puts the fate of the entire world at risk. So, only Team Fast & Furious can stop her.
These movies are basic action-adventure films. They are what they are: highly entertaining popcorn films with likable characters, actors with great chemistry and thrilling action scenes. That’s completely fine because the Fast & Furious franchise pretty much runs that gimmick better than any other outfit these days. There’s an incredible lack of purely great, high-concept action films of late, so the Fast & Furious movies fill that quotient nicely. The Fate of the Furious is no exception. Is the plot convoluted at times? Yes. Does it ever get very ridiculous? Oh yeah. That’s especially the case when fireballs engulf characters on multiple occasions, but then they walk away from the chaos without a single scratch or singe. But to the narrative and writer Chris Morgan’s credit, The Fate of the Furious is never overwrought like another prolific action director’s films.
The best part of the movie, bar none, is the appearance of Charlize Theron’s diabolic, ruthless new villain, the cyber-terrorist with a God complex known only as Cipher. Theron is really the type of villain this franchise has needed for quite some time. She’s a pure, traditional villain of action movies from the days of yore. She’s almost like a great Bond movie villain that the franchise has lacked for a considerable amount of time. What’s great about Cipher in this film is that she doesn’t mess around. Villains will make threats, but they are usually thwarted or fail to act on them. Cipher actually makes good on her threats, and it provides one of the film’s more devastating and dramatic moments.
F. Gary Gray, as the helmer of the franchise, was a solid choice to hand over the keys to. He keeps the style of the action in line with the previous directors’ efforts, but still manages to invoke his own personal flair. Gray does very well with his cast and knows exactly how to stage action involving the likes of The Rock, Jason Statham, and Vin Diesel for their maximum cool factor. If you’ve been missing heaping amounts of bromances and male machismo in your action films, wait no longer. This film definitely has a better pacing and movement to it than Furious 7, which for the most part, felt like a step back from previously stronger efforts. The film was mainly elevated due to the emotional loss of Brian O’Connor actor Paul Walker, who tragically passed away before Furious 7 finished production.
The banter and chemistry among the characters is still fairly strong and amusing. The newest presence is marked by Scott Eastwood’s associate of Mr. Nobody, Eric Reisner. It’s hard to observe Scott Eastwood’s presence in this cast and not suspect that he’s there to fill a specific quotient. There’s a thought that perhaps he’s there to be fashioned into the new Brian O’Connor spot. Eastwood’s character lacks any sort of presence and charisma. His most significant moment had me believing that it was Scott Eastwood who was the subject of The Rock’s infamous Instagram post from August 2016 and not Vin Diesel. Just remember, The Rock never specifically stated it was Vin Diesel by name, that’s just the angle the media ran with.
That aside, despite some obvious seeding, it’s hard to envision how much longer this franchise can keep running at top speed. Obviously, Universal will want to keep releasing these films as long as they keep raking in the cash. One problem is the franchise’s penchant for turning past villains and antagonists into the new heroes. Making Jason Statham into part of Team Fast & Furious is a bit too much. If gets to the point where a big evil like Cipher becomes one of the heroes, then that will be the moment that this franchise has well and truly jumped the proverbial shark.