Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Kristofer Hivju, Luke Evans, Helen Mirren
Directed By: F Gary Gray
Plot: Dom (Diesel) is pulled into a terrorist organization led by Cypher (Theron) because Cypher has something Dom wants. He betrays his team, who are then tasked with stopping Dom from getting his targets. (Trying really hard not to spoil anything).
What Works: First off, points for not ruining the twists in the trailer. To be fair, you find out the “why” fairly early in the movie, but I don’t want to be the guy to ruin it for you. There’s actually another twist later in the movie you won’t necessarily see coming. I would say that since Fast Five, the plot structures of this franchise have been really solid. 5,6, and 7 are all incredibly strong. This one takes a small step back for me, but not enough that I would say it’s bad or that you shouldn’t see it. I loved the action in this film, as the team continues to push themselves to show stunts (no matter how utterly absurd) we’ve never see before, and some of the coolest car chases ever put to film. Johnson becomes more and more entertaining as the series progresses, taking an even bigger role here, and really challenging Diesel for “favorite character in the franchise”. In many ways, this is his film, not Diesel’s, as Diesel spends the majority of the flm as a “bad guy”. Johnson takes over as the leader, and it allows him and his character to grow and shine more. Like in Furious 7, this film gave Rodriguez more room to actually act, and I appreciate that. I still remember how good she was in Girlfight, and we get a few glimpses of what she could be given the right material. Statham is good, but somewhat underutilized in order to further the story. I also love how this franchise continues to call back to previous films. It’s becoming one of those franchises where you almost have to rewatch the previous films in preparation for the sequel, because they will absolutely be referencing things from other films.
What Doesn’t Work: It’s a little silly at times. There’s a whole sequence with Statham on a plane (again, trying to avoid spoilers) that just didn’t work for me. There’s another sequence where Johnson is skating outside his car, trying to catch a missile and physically throw it at another car. I can definitely check my brain at the door for most of this stuff, but even with that there are some parts that are just too absurd for me. I also thought Scott Eastwood was a waste of space. I would have much rather seen Lucas Black return to the series instead of Eastwood, whose acting wasn’t even on the level required for this series. Mind you, you don’t need to be a strong actor to work in this franchise, and Eastwood actually fell below my expectations. I also can’t ignore a few plot points, like how they’re sure that Dom is turning bad because Cypher has something on him, but no one calls Brian or Mia to make sure they’re safe. Instead, when Brian is brought up, Letty brushes it off with “we agreed not to bring them into this”. Yeah, but did you at least check to make sure they were safe? Also, this film makes Statham’s Shaw a good guy almost uncomfortably fast. For the fans of the series, we still remember him as the guy who killed Han. It seems as though everyone forgot about that.
Final Word: While not the best outing in the franchise, it’s not the worst either. It has some problems, but overall it was incredibly entertaining. Most people go to these films expecting high octane action, and on that point, it delivers. I think we all expected this to be a step back from the emotional climax of Furious 7, so most people won’t be surprised by me confirming that it is a step back. I know they’re planning two more films, and there is a ton of setup here for the ninth film. I’m still excited to see the ninth film, and I hope the final tenth film is an absolute blowout finale. Let’s be honest… you were either the type of person who was going to see The Fate Of The Furious or not. This franchise is review-proof at this point, but I’m still going to weigh in.
Final Grade: B