In “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth installment of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, director F. Gary Gray and writer Chris Morgan rehash themes that made previous films a success. The movie features the non-stop, over-the-top action, cheesy one liners, fast cars and short skirts that come straight from the “Furious” blueprint.
“Fate” was a worthy addition to the franchise, and a major box office success. The film had the largest worldwide box office opening ever at $532.5 million in its first weekend. It avoids the trap of repetitiveness that so many blockbuster sequels can fall into and earns a place among the better half of films in the series, though whether that is good or bad is up to the viewer.
The film boasts a star-studded cast, with popular actors and series stalwarts Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Hobbs), Vin Diesel (Dom), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) and Jason Statham (Deckard) being just a few of the many A-list cast members. For all the top-level Hollywood talent brought on — including Oscar winners Helen Mirren (Magdalene Shaw) and Charlize Theron (Cipher) — it is the special effects team that did the heavy lifting in “Fate.”
The tone of the movie is set from the beginning, with an elaborate street race between protagonist Dom and local gangster Santos, played by Don Omar, giving Dom the opportunity to do the impossible, multiple times. Dom takes “the slowest car on the island” and manages to out race Santos, overcoming a collision with a motorcycle and a flaming engine that forces him to finish the race in reverse.
This scene showcases the best of “Fate” and simultaneously everything that it lacks. In all of “Furious” movies since “Fast Five,” creative action scenes, involving cars or not, have been the most enjoyable, important and characteristic pieces of every movie. Dom’s race with Santos is cast in the same mold, taking a beautiful setting in Havana, Cuba and creating an action masterpiece, and nothing less or more. In terms of complexity, “Fate” is no different than any other “Furious” installment. You will not find deep plot and complex themes here.
“Fate” is in so many ways like its predecessors, but it differs in one important aspect. Everything in “Fate” is bigger. The stakes — an omniscient terrorist gaining nuclear power — are higher, the crew is even bigger with the addition of Shaw, and, of course, so too is the action. Hobbs has basically become a superhero, with enough strength to bend metal with a punch, curl a solid stone prison bed, throw a man over ten feet and redirect a torpedo with one arm.
Though realism and plot consistency have undoubtedly been thrown out the window of the million-dollar Lamborghini driving on Russian ice, this does not detract from the movie’s purpose. The action is undisputedly entertaining and feels fresh, and the theme of family is painted differently than in past ”Furious” films. Dom’s betrayal pits the crew against its own, adding a more serious edge to the conflict, though Letty’s readiness to forgive ensures that “Fate” retains both its upbeat tone and impossibility.
There is no question about what “Fate” has to offer. Either you want to see people fight their way out of a prison riot, babies in bulletproof cribs used as bullet shields and cars fighting submarines, or you make the mistake of asking yourself “How?”