‘The Fate of the Furious’ delivers everything a ‘Fast’ film should— plus a giant nuclear submarine
The eighth installment has insane action, family values, and (mostly) knows how to juggle its impressive cast
Fast cars? Check. A romantic subplot? Check. Family values? Check. Fun one-liners and good banter? Check. At least three ridiculous action sequences that defy logic and physics? Check. Check. Check. Simply put, The Fate of the Furious delivered on just about all the key components that make up a solid installment in the Fast & Furious franchise. The latest film managed to go big on all the factors we’ve come to expect this franchise to go big on, while keeping it small and tightly focused on the franchise’s key themes — family and loyalty.
The plot of The Fate of the Furious (or simply, Fast 8) is no secret — Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue, turns on his team, and for some reason is now working for Cipher, a cyberterrorist played by Charlize Theron. Well, Dom turns out to have a really good reason for turning on his team, and it’s no major surprise to find out he’s not so much working with Cipher as he’s being manipulated by her. Cipher’s endgame seems to be to start a nuclear war, and it’s further noted that she was behind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) stealing Nightshade and Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) stealing God’s Eye, the technological MacGuffins that drove Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7.
Before long, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) has brought Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Dom’s old team together (Letty, Roman, Tej, and Ramsey) to hunt down Dom and Cipher…and that they’ll be working with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who happens to have his own grudge against Cipher, to do it. Old enemies become new allies and all that, another classic franchise staple.
As I previously speculated, this premise worked really well on a number of levels. First and foremost, the elephant in the room of course, is Paul Walker’s absence. With Dom spending most of the movie on his own, there never felt like there was some kind of significant moment between Brian and Dom missing. Sure, they made reference to him, in a way that maybe drew more attention to his absence than it should have when Roman (Tyrese Gibson) says, “Brian would know what to do,” and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) quickly dismisses him (like, I’m pretty sure if there was ever a really good reason to call Brian back into action, Dom going rogue and stealing global threat-level weapons is that reason, but I digress).
This premise also paved the way as a soft re-organization for the characters. Furious 7 didn’t give Hobbs much to do outside of a hospital bed and a few scene-stealing moments (“Woman, I am the cavalry.”), so it was nice to see him fill the team lead role. Unfortunately, this was almost tainted by an early scene in which he’s coaching his daughter’s soccer team, and could have been at least five minutes shorter. His big prison break scene that pit him against Statham made up for that though.
As for Statham, while he was a perfect addition to the cast and a great villain in Furious 7, his revenge plot was more so a source of mayhem than anything else, and it was hard to see how he’d fit into the future landscape of the franchise beyond just showing up and causing chaos for the crew. At the end of the day, this is the man who killed Han, so he’ll never get to partake in the beers and the barbecue, but his role in Fast 8 helped establish the Shaw brothers as franchise mainstays (yes, I said brothers, the movie’s been out for two weeks; welcome back, non-comatose Luke Evans!). There’s even rumblings of a Luke Hobbs/Deckard Shaw spin-off, but let’s hope that doesn’t hinder their involvement in Fast 9 and 10.
While Furious 7 certainly had some key moments and excellent action sequences — cars driving out of buildings into other buildings, cars air-dropping out of a cargo plane, etc. — Fast 8 proved to be a significantly better installment. Furious 7’s third act with the showdown on the streets of L.A. was a bit weak in comparison to Fast Five and Fast 6, and Fast 8 marked a return to what made those two installments the best in the overall franchise to date. Fast 8 delivered the big action scenes we want and now expect (a car chase in Iceland culminating with a giant submarine bursting out of the ice was a bold and welcome statement), while also juggling its large cast of characters. Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) for example, easily could have felt a bit redundant as the team’s resident technophiles and hacktivists, but as the franchise has come to include not just ridiculous action but also ridiculous global threat-level technology, and specifically a cyberterrorist villain in Cipher, neither character was lost in the shuffle. That said, we probably could have had a bit more of Charlize Theron, but I suspect, much like the Shaw brothers, we haven’t seen the last of her.
With Fast 9 and Fast 10 due out in April 2019 and April 2021, respectively, we’re now entering the final denouement of the Fast franchise. And although Fast 8 was not necessarily the best in the franchise, it certainly served up everything a solid Fast movie should have, while also establishing how to use and maintain this impressive and fun cast moving forward. For now, we can only hope and speculate on what the Fast franchise will do next. And no, they’re not going to space. But that certainly doesn’t rule out a lot of other equally awesome (and completely speculative!) alternatives: