Family and explosions are everything

Once more, the world looks on in wonder as it braces for a new entry in the loud and unstoppable “Fast & Furious” franchise of films, spanning across 16 years of material.  Following the breathtaking and remarkable success of “Furious 7” back in 2015, where the film grossed over 1.5 billion dollars at the box office, director James Wan decided to not return. Instead, he went in a different direction and took on “Aquaman.”

With that, Universal Pictures enlisted the directorial talents of F. Gary Gray, fresh off his success of his hit biographical film, “Straight Outta Compton.” F. Gray Gray is not a stranger to the car crime/action film subgenre, with his other foray being the solid remake of “The Italian Job.” Now, with this new film, the Fast & Furious franchise gains another bombastic addition, but still somehow only plateaus when compared to the previous, more earnest installment.

“The Fate of the Furious” opens with Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his wife, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymooning in Cuba after the successful completion of their team’s last mission. This last mission ended with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) swearing vengeance upon them for the demise of his comatose younger brother. The honeymoon is cut short when Dom is approached by a nefarious cyber terrorist known as Cipher (Charlize Theron), who coerces Dom into betraying his team consisting of Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and fellow leader Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).  

Following the betrayal, Dom’s team goes after him, recruiting the help of government operatives and allies Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), and receiving the reluctant assistance of Deckard Shaw, who wishes to gain leniency from his prison time.  Together, they all aim to stop Cipher’s plans for world devastation while also neutralizing Dom at all costs. Dom has his own reasons for his betrayal, obviously leading to conflicting allegiances.

The film is ridiculous, let’s get that out of the way immediately. For most films, that’s a red flag, especially if the makers don’t realize it. However, this films engulfs itself in its own madness and is completely aware of it, which makes it so much more fun. There is also no getting around that about two-thirds of the film’s dialogue is either banal or cheesy beyond belief, with no recourse for intelligence. But the last third of the lines owe and benefit themselves to the pairings of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham and Ludacris and Gibson. The combination of Russell and Eastwood make their goofy lines work very well and manage to establish connections.

Besides those pairs, the true star of the show is just the spectacle in itself. From a simple yet crazy street race through Cuban streets to a Cold War-era nuclear submarine chasing exotic cars across an icy Russian lake, the film never lets up and it never falters in trying to have as much fun as possible and letting the audience have a piece of said fun. This film is nothing but a good time and it does not fail to let you know that, with F. Gary Gray’s direction helping to keep things level and well-tuned enough for this eighth film to still be strong this long into the franchise.


Film: “The Fate of the Furious”

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Release Date: April 14

Rating: 4 out of 5