Why Fans Are Pissed About ‘The Fate of the Furious’
Few film franchises have experienced the incredible evolution of the Fast and Furious series. Sure, the 2001 original was a breakout hit for its high-octane thrills set amid the world of street racing, but before our very eyes, the films have developed into an interconnected web of stories and characters with their own sense of style, rich mythology, and an ever-growing ensemble cast. Essentially, it’s become a soap opera on wheels, a nitro-powered exercise in excess and heightened melodrama that has already included an amnesia plot line, love triangles, and all manner of criminal activity over the course of a decade and a half worth of screen time. Not too shabby for a series that began with a modest production budget of $38 million.
Moreover, the franchise has become one of the most financially successful series on the big-screen right now. In 2015, Furious 7 — which sadly marked the final appearance of the late Paul Walker in the series — became the first in the franchise to earn more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office. That success has only placed greater pressure on the upcoming eighth entry, now revealed to be titled The Fate of the Furious.
As first shown in the film trailer (above), fans were shocked to discover that the newest adventure for Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his “family” will see Dom betray his crew in favor of working with the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron).
Seeing as the film’s central theme has long been on the importance of the surrogate family Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have built, it’s a surprising move (to say the least) for the very character who most embodies that sentiment. At this point, there’s every chance that Dom’s actions are due to mind control, blackmail, or some other form of coercion (with this franchise, literally anything could be possible). Yet, fans’ reaction are justified, since the Fast and Furious series is essentially subverting its very foundation to explore how Dom’s crew will fare without their fearsome leader behind them.
But is this plot development such a bad idea? It’s true that after everything the crew has been through together, Dom’s decision to seemingly turn his back on everyone he loves — especially after the deaths of fan-favorite characters like Han — is a punch in the gut for both longtime fans and the characters up on-screen. However, this is precisely the point. This far into a run, most franchises are simply recycling ideas and plot points. Instead, The Fate of the Furious dares to take the series’ characters into unexplored terrain, infusing the big-budget thrills and insane action set pieces with an emotional through-line that no one was expecting.
Even with the little bit of information we have about the film (again, via the above footage), it looks like Dom’s perceived fall from grace — we’re still not buying that he would stab his “family” in the back by his own volition — will lead Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to rise up and lead the rest of the crew. They’ll most likely work to foil whatever plot Cipher is cooking up and unravel the mystery behind Dom’s actions. That in and of itself — while a variation of the reluctant team-up we saw in Fast & Furious 6 between Hobbs and Dom — should effectively set the stage for some intriguing new interactions among longtime supporting players.
While fans may be frustrated with what seems to be Dom’s arc for this eighth film, the fact remains that the strong reaction the trailer has attracted is a testament to the Fast and Furious franchise’s ability to keep fans pumped up and excited for what may come next. Considering the tragic death of Walker during production of Furious 7, the franchise easily could have called it quits. Yet, against all odds, it appears that the creative team behind the film — including Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray — has managed to find another way to flesh out the mythology and keep audiences as hyped as ever for what trouble Dom and family will get into next.
If this surprising twist is any indication of what the Fast and Furious series has in store for future installments, it could very well be around for far longer than anyone would have predicted when that original film hit more than 15 years ago. In fact, it already has.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
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