10 Reasons ‘The Fate of the Furious’ Is the Craziest ‘Fast’ Movie Yet
With a title like The Fate of the Furious, it might seem like the eighth film of the franchise would be its last, but alas, Vin Diesel and other producers are already eyeing release dates for Fast 9 and Fast 10. This makes this latest entry less of an ending and more of a test run for how well the remaining actors can carry a film without their late costar, Paul Walker. As it turns out, they do pretty well.
As with the previous three movies, The Fate of the Furious is an ensemble film that works largely because it features likable actors who seem to be having fun on-screen between increasingly elaborate car chases. But there are still a few ways this film distinguishes itself from the rest.
1. The characters are basically superheroes
The original The Fast and the Furious was essentially Point Break with cars instead of surfing. In the course of 16 years and seven sequels, the franchise has grown so ridiculous the most recent film is more like The Avengers, if The Avengers had an unlimited supply of Bat-mobiles.
These heroes certainly seem to do as much damage as The Avengers in the course of their international espionage, and they’re just about as invincible. The Rock straight up snaps through his handcuffs in one scene, and everyone seems pretty unimpressed. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) survives being submerged, vehicle and all, beneath thin Arctic ice.
This continued shift in the series’ tone works yet again, letting Fate revel in the outlandishness of its greatest street racing shenanigans.
2. And they have a proper supervillain
It becomes clear that Charlize Theron is no ordinary schemer the moment she reveals herself to Diesel’s Dom. Her character is a super hacker, alias Cypher (because of course), whose crack team can basically do anything to any computer in the world at any time.
Theron is all icy confidence and sinister, steely-eyed monologues, almost coming across as an alien posing as human — though that might just be her unfortunate dreadlocks. Her motives are never really made clear, but the power she wields keeps raising the stakes, and most importantly, she’s really easy to hate in the role.
3. The Rock
Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are supposed to function as the emotional heart of this film, but both are a bit too wooden to build any convincing chemistry. More convincing is the initial adversarial relationship between Jason Statham (more on him soon) and Dwayne Johnson, who once again exudes charisma basically playing himself.
Though it does seem Johnson’s feud with Diesel resulted in less screen time for the former actor, Johnson still fits in some of his best star-making moments and most irresistibly cheesy one-liners to date, oddly working best outside the car — when he’s fighting hand-to-hand or palling around with his friends face-to-face.
4. Jason Statham
Like Johnson, Statham is a latecomer to the franchise whose presence just seems to click, particularly in this film, as he transitions from an adversary to another member of the big, happy, street-racing family.
In a movie as campy as this, it’s hard not to feel Statham is playing up his rough-fighting rogue persona for comic laughs, if not quite to the same extent as he did in Spy. His two hand-to-hand combat scenes stand out as highlights, one involving a bonkers prison breakout and the other a giggling baby. How can you beat Statham acting opposite a baby?
5. The set pieces
By the end of Fate‘s opening set piece, Dom is crashing a flaming car through a crowd of people, over a wall, and into the ocean, backwards. Every second of it is thrilling, even if there are at least a dozen things about it that don’t make sense. Thankfully, things only get crazier from there, building up to a climax and second-act set piece involving self-driving cars that rank among the most inspired (and outlandish) this series has ever done.
6. The messy plotting
Perhaps those big set pieces make it easier to overlook some of the silly leaps in logic the film makes in trying to get to the next one. Fate‘s entire marketing campaign is built around the labored mystery of why Dom would betray his makeshift family. It’s a theme that never grows beyond a weak attempt at misdirection.
There are questionable close calls and needlessly elaborate plans that add to the disorienting plot. Plus, there’s at least one notable loose end that feels less like a cliffhanger and more like laziness.
7. The cast chemistry
While Dom and Cipher carry most of the plot, the remaining characters are often left to bounce off one another in a room between set pieces, yielding moments of bonding both awkward and inspired.
Gibson’s Roman is reliable comic relief, while newcomers Kurt Russell (this is his second Fast film) and Scott Eastwood (his first) fit in as a couple of shady government spooks/walking get-out-of-jail-free cards. The key element here is the sense of fun among a group of actors who don’t seem to be taking things too seriously, even when the stakes are absurdly high.
8. The cities
The Fate of the Furious is another globetrotting adventure for our heroes, allowing the film to showcase the scantily-clad women and shiny cars of a few new locales. There are trips to Berlin and the remote Russian tundra, but the most memorable location is Havana, Cuba in the film’s opening street-racing scene.
The city’s colorful alleyways and crumbling facades are especially dazzling since this is the first Hollywood film to shoot in Cuba since the embargo was lifted.
9. The editing
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much of this movie comes down to the editing. The car chase scenes in particular, are just a series of well-placed talking heads in between shots of thrilling stunt work and cars being engulfed in fiery explosions. Somehow it works just well enough to keep the action coherent while still giving the actors their cheesy moments to shine.
10. The title
The only thing consistent about the Fast franchise is the inconsistency of its titles, and The Fate of the Furious certainly carries on the legacy of 2 Fast 2 Furious in this capacity.
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf
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