‘The Fate of the Furious’ leads the franchise in a new direction when Dom turns on family

Dynamics will shift, loyalty will be tested, and submarines will somehow be involved in an ice road chase scene

(Universal Pictures)

While Furious 7 was the first film in the Fast & Furious franchise that needed to deal with and work around the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker, The Fate of the Furious (or more simply referred to as Fast 8), will be the first film in the franchise that will have to manage that loss in full. As the crew behind the franchise decided it best to retire the character (but of course sent him off with a touching tribute), it’s unclear how exactly they’ll handle his absence in this film; which given the plot, his absence will most definitely be felt. Based on the trailers, what we know is that Dominic Toretto has gone rogue and turned on his team. He’s turned on the one thing he values above all else — family.

Now we also know that the real villain of Fast 8 is Charlize Theron, who Kurt Russell describes as the “definition of high tech terrorism” and is working with Dom, or rather, Dom is working with (or more likely, for) her. Let’s face it, after seven movies, we can be pretty certain that Dom wasn’t playing everybody all along. There’s going to be a very good reason for why he’s gone rogue. Blackmail? Probably. In fact, we don’t know exactly where Brian, Mia, little Jack, and their second child are, but if the movie-verse needs to explain their absence in this film, it’s a fairly good bet that their safety is at risk and is likely the motivation for Dom going rogue (in fact they show Dom holding a photograph of Brian, Mia, and family in the trailer, so probably a very good bet). After all, what better reason could Dom have for turning on family than because of family?

(Universal Pictures)

What we also know is that this is very likely the beginning of the end for this franchise. Vin Diesel has basically guaranteed that this franchise will go to 10 (when my mom dropped my friends and I off at the movie theater at the ripe age of 14, I did not think this was a franchise I’d still be watching more than half a lifetime later), so this is kind of setting the stage for the next two movies, and this is actually a great new direction. Sure, they could’ve introduced a new villain, maybe even a third Shaw brother, and run with that. I mean, I was psyched when I heard Charlize Theron had signed on to play the lead villain (a villain named Cipher no less), that was actually enough for me. But Dom going rogue and essentially being the antagonist? Well I’d say that’s a pretty fresh dynamic. Taking that a step further, Statham is back to go another round, but this time he’s called in to team up with the good guys, Dom’s former team, to hunt him down. The script has been flipped.

This shift in the dynamic offers us a lot. First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to move past the void left by Paul Walker (although as mentioned, I suspect Brian and Mia will be referenced in some sort of pivotal off screen role). If the plot was the same with Dom turning on them, we’d look to him to step into the lead, but instead, it looks like our man Dwayne Johnson is getting a huge bump here. While he did a lot with very little screen time in Furious 7, this is actually some great reassurance that we can expect big things from Luke Hobbs this time around. Not only does he appear to get locked up with Statham’s Deckard Shaw, leading to an insane prison riot/break/chase(?) before Kurt Russell (returning as covert ops leader Frank Petty) forces them to work together to track down Dom, he appears to be leading the charge.

(Universal Pictures)

Worth noting, while Statham is joining the team this time around, he’s certainly not joining the team. This is the man who killed Han. This is the man who broke Hobbs. This is the man who almost killed Brian, Mia, little Jack, and even Dom. Hell this is the man who visited his comatose brother in a hospital, told the doctors to take care of him, and then BLEW UP A CHUNK OF THE HOSPITAL. Let it be known, there’ll be no beer and there’ll be no barbecue for Deckard Shaw.

We have all the staples back, including Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris (oh man, these movies would now feel so empty without some classic Roman-Tej banter), and newly initiated Nathalie Emmanuel, along with sometimes-players Elsa Pataky, Tego Calderon, and Don Omar. In terms of new cast members, Charlize Theron is not the only big addition. Scott Eastwood is apparently playing an agent working under Petty (hey, this could be an okay stand-in for Walker’s former agent Brian O’Conner), and last but not least, Helen Mirren. That last one’s pretty dope. And even better, there’s some serious rumors out there that Helen Mirren will be playing the Shaw brothers’ mother.

(Universal Pictures)

Whether or not that last bit of casting is entirely accurate (please let it be accurate!), I am hoping that the return of Deckard Shaw means bigger things to come. He’s playing with the good guys this time around, but he will never be a good guy, and I think at this point, it’s fair to say that the Shaw brothers have become the pivotal big bads of this franchise. Owen Shaw was proven to have had ties to the events of Fast & Furious and Fast Five before serving as the lead villain of Fast & Furious 6, and then Deckard Shaw was motivated by revenge against Dom’s crew in Furious 7. Needless to say, things have gotten pretty personal, and I wouldn’t hate to see a future Shaw brothers team up (or better yet, if Mirren is playing their mother, a Shaw family team-up against Dom’s crew would be amazing, and thematically meaningful because you know, family is everything to this franchise). I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Of course, the real star of this franchise, is insanely amazing stunt sequences we didn’t even know we should be dreaming of. The trailer for Fast & Furious 6 teased a tank busting out of a cargo truck during a highway chase (it’s hard to forget Tej announcing, “Uhhh, they got a tank…”) as well as a runway chase scene that involved a cargo plane and then a car DRIVING OUT THE FRONT OF THE CARGO PLANE. The trailer for Furious 7 teased our heroes dropping out of a cargo plane IN CARS onto a winding mountain road, along with a car jumping out of one building INTO ANOTHER BUILDING (you had to pay full price if you wanted to see it JUMP INTO ANOTHER BUILDING AFTER THAT).

(Universal Pictures)

As for The Fate of the Furious, from what the trailers reveal beyond the aforementioned plot twists, it appears we have a lot to look forward to:

-A giant wrecking ball

-A grappling hook tug-of-war with cars

-Various car chases in various locations, most notably, Cuba

-The big Hobbs/Shaw prison riot

-Charlize Theron hacking into a shit ton of New York City cars, followed by a shit ton of those cars dropping out of a parking structure and raining down on the streets

-Scott Eastwood opening fire while driving towards an army of New York City cabs

-Armored wingsuits

-An armored vehicle chase across a snow and ice covered Iceland (with at least one orange Lamborghini in the mix), culminating with a SUBMARINE EXPLODING OUT OF THE ICE

-Hobbs stepping out of an armored vehicle while riding alongside a torpedo to gently push and redirect the torpedo

-And oh yeah, this time it looks like Tej gets to drive his own tank

So it’s looking like it’s fair to say that The Fate of the Furious has all the necessary ingredients to be another fantastic installment to an already fantastic franchise. I’m not so sure we can count on a neat and clean ending though. Motives will be explained, peace might be made, but there’s no guarantee that Dom walks away without consequences. Being that this one is setting up at least the next (and probably) final two installments, there could be a minor cliffhanger here in terms of where Dom stands with the rest of the crew. When the dust settles, this may not end with the beers and the barbecue. Not for Dom at least.

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