Long gone is the sense of reality that the Fast saga panted its roots with in the first few installments in this franchise. Forget any type of explanation for how this universe operates and go into each film with an empty mind, ready to be entertained. That’s what this saga banks on, the pure entertainment of whats on screen. This is not the type of franchise to go see the new film for any sort of plot and everyone involved (studio, producers, writer) know it. The moment the film starts, buckle your seatbelt because it will be one thrilling nonstop action-packed ridiculous ride that outdoes the previous film by miles.
The key word to describe this franchise starts and ends with “family” – one word, six letters make up half of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) vocabulary. Everything he holds close to his chest revolves around that word; it’s how he lives his life besides a quarter mile at a time. But with the last four films, beginning with Fast Five a new word or two should be used when describing this franchise: ridiculous and outrageous. Fly a car through three of the tallest buildings in the world – nope they must go bigger. Go big or don’t go at all. And they do. Let’s have a soviet era submarine take out 7 cars on a frozen body of water and the submarine loses. Add to that every single person walks away, no harm to them. Toretto, basically is close to incineration yet in the world that we know it today, won’t be harmed thanks to a blockade of the remaining cars.
At that point, you just throw your arms in the air in confusion attempting to put together just how that’s humanly possible, but the fact is, its damn entertaining. You want to look away but can’t – verisimilitude be damned.
Long-time franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at these characters in the hopes that it looks cool. And it does, the stunts, the action sequences, the choreography of it all is pure spectacle. He must know how ridiculous it is, but it doesn’t matter if none of it makes any scientific sense it’s fun to watch and be engulfed in.
I won’t sugarcoat it but not having Brian O’Conner or Mia involved felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing. Their story had to have been resolved due to the loss of Paul Walker, but it allows other characters to step up in their absence. The core group is still here – Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) & surprisingly Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).
Four films together and the chemistry between characters is still one of the main selling points. Tyrese and Chris are inseparable, providing the comedic relief, the same way Dom and Letty should never be split apart. But the two characters that come out of nowhere with how well they play off each other is Hobbs and Shaw. Johnson and Statham are electric together – I never thought the two could get along but that’s how the story goes in this franchise. Villains are never truly that bad and heroes are never truly that good. All these characters fall into that grey area which never gives the possibility of bad pairing options.
Fate of the Furious takes what the franchise has done before and piles more of it on. Embracing the ridiculous has become the norm the same way the plot or villain don’t matter. This time it’s a cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron).
Yet again, there is zero motivation for her character to carry out her evil plan of stealing launch codes and the nukes as well as taking Elena (Elsa Pataky) hostage with her and Dom’s newborn son. For how intelligent Cipher comes off, how does she not know Dom will never truly turn on his family. For how dumb his character is written over and over, do these villains not understand his capabilities. The man will always be 5 steps ahead of them, always.
The plot has remained constant for the last few films, it’s not why we’re here. We’re all here to see how he outdoes his previous work. Predicting what big stunt will come next can basically be a drinking game. Same goes for how many times Dom will say the word “family” or predicting how many cars will explode or how many times Roman will walk away from a mission. With how predictable these films have come to be, the demand is there. We might as well steer into the ridiculous at this point. There is no turning back, it’s impossible not be invested in these characters lives 16 years after the release of the first film.
Historically, the pacing to these films goes equally as fast as the fastest car drives but The Fate of the Furious has moments of calm. It’s out of place but crucial to these films to let scenes breathe and every moment with Hobbs and his daughter is exactly what was missing. Add in the fact that his daughters soccer team did the Haka – I love watching the Haka 11 times out of 10.
If The Fast Saga gets one thing right every time, it’s location. These characters at one point were small time criminals who have evolved into globe trotting un-superpowered heroes. Only in New York City can a waterfall of cars raining down from parking structures controlled remotely be used as a tool for chaos.
But with all the action, with all the adventures, the franchise has run its course. Yes, these are still the highest quality of entertainment, adrenaline pumping films but the schtick is starting to get old. What other piece of technology can be stolen from what villain of the day? How long before the fans say they’re tired of seeing these films? What else can they do to wow us? When is enough, enough? For Vin, Dominic is his Indiana Jones, his Luke Skywalker. I get it, financially he has a stake in this franchise, but doesn’t he want to move on? You can’t milk a cow forever.
The Fate of the Furious is written by Chris Morgan based on characters by Gary Scott Thompson, directed by F. Gary Gray is Rated PG-13 and has a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Fate of the Furious was released on April 14, 2017 in the United States and has a runtime of 2 hours and 29 minutes. The Fate of the Furious can be bought by online retailers like iTunes, Amazon, and Google. 3.5 out of 5.