Directed By: F. Gary Grey
I was 10 years old when my dad first showed me the first Fast and the Furious movie. He was an auto tech teacher in my one horse town in Wyoming. I hadn’t seen Point Break yet, which I later discovered was the inspiration for The Fast and the Furious, and never had seen any film quite like it at my age. I also shouldn’t but want to add that this movie, as well as Natalie Portman in the Star Wars prequels (looking at you, Attack of the Clones), are two of the biggest prepubescent sexual awakenings in my awkward… horribly awkward teens. I say all this because I look at the first film fondly as a part of my childhood, and shit, why not the sequel “2 Fast 2 Furious,” which, without this context, would likely be deemed “inexcusable” as a critic.
It wasn’t until “Tokyo Drift,” the 3rd and arguably worst installment of the franchise, that I had my rude awakening. Sadly, even Bow Wow wasn’t enough to save the anticipation I’d lost for the next installment, cleverly titled “Fast & Furious.” It wasn’t until “Fast Five” where I saw what made this franchise last this long. With the abundance of diversity both in front of and behind the camera, as well as a coherent story that helped set up the over-the-top action sequences, I was back on the bandwagon, ready to experience “Furious 6” and the bittersweet “Furious 7,” with the loss of the late Paul Walker.
Now we’ve arrived at “The Fate of the Furious,” both a reference to not only the story, but where this franchise is going after a seemingly perfect conclusion from “Furious 7.” The story centers around Vin Diesel’s character, “Dominic Toretto,” being blackmailed into working for the new main villain of the film, “Cipher,” a cyber-terrorist played by the stunning, yet too dreadlock-y, Charlize Theron. Having to now go up against his own family, Toretto now is faced with the possibility of either destroying them or destroying himself in the process.
What the film lacks with the loss of the late Walker, it attempts to make up for with a more serious story, while also throwing lots of humor sprinkled in with action to keep you engaged throughout the film. The movie is funnier than you would think, mostly coming from the banter between The Rock and Jason Statham’s characters, making their scenes some of the more enjoyable moments in the film. The action, while not as jaw-dropping as the film’s predecessors, will still give you your money’s worth, with bad-ass stunts, Tyrese Gibson asking if everyone believes what he’s seeing, and high octane car chase scenes. It’s when the film forgets what it is, a Fast and Furious movie, that it ultimately starts to fail.
The story relies heavily on you knowing the Fast and Furious lore to really know what’s going on. There are characters re-introduced in this film that would cause a person who’s never seen a Fast and Furious movie to be lost. It even took a minute someone like me, who HAS seen all the films, to figure out who each person was and which film they had even been in.
All of the performances worked, even Kurt Russell, who reprises his role as “Mr. Nobody” and really was only in it to get a paycheck, popping in for just a couple minutes and having little to no significance to the story. As the story tries to bring in more complex ideas to the characters, it never really delves in and explores them, making it frustratingly basic when it could have elevated the film to being more than it actually is.
Again, this is a Fast & Furious movie, so take criticisms with a grain of salt; however, I would bet that even the biggest fan of the franchise would not put this in their top 3, and in the end, to me, the lazy storytelling and focus takes away from what would have been a great 7 film saga. I’m going to give The Fate of the Furious a 7/10.