Mike Leeder says that ‘Fate of the Furious‘ has a sleek bodywork and powerful engine but a suspension that has to be seen to be disbelieved…
Amazingly, it’s sixteen years since the Fast & Furious began, (the original Fast & Furious had been a Roger Corman quickie) with what many people at the time describing it as a ‘Point Break on the streets…’ complete with muscle cars replacing surfboards.
Now the EIGHTH in the series arrives – with a huge box-office opening weekend – and it has gone from a series set within the ‘real’ world to a time jumping (the events of Fast & Furious 3: Tokyo Drift actually take place following the events of Fast 6 and the beginning of Fast 7! Do try to keep up!), insanely cool action franchise where anything can happen with an ensemble cast.
Where are we now? ‘F8‘ opens with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on their honeymoon in Havana, when a mysterious woman arrives on the scene. Her name is Cipher (Charlize Theron) and following their encounter, all bets are off. Dom goes rogue on an assignment for the Diplomatic Security Service, turning on his team mates and helping Cipher to steal the God’s Eye tech from the previous film.
Covert Operative Frank Petty (Kurt Russell) and his protege Reisner (Scott Eastwood) confirm that Dom is now working for Cipher and has plans to steal the ‘Nuclear Football’ held by the Russian Minister of Defence. The F&F team including Letty, Hobs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), and Ramsay (Nathalue Emmanuel) are assembled to stop them… with the unlikely addition of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) the rogue Special Forces Assassin from the previous film. (Wait, Deckard Shaw the brother of the villain from Fast 6, who killed at least one member of the F&F team in the previous movie, and assaulted and attempted to kill all of the team and their friends and families is now to be taken as a good guy? Yes, shush don’t think about it, it’ll hurt!)
Much car-driving and quipping transpires and the finale takes place in Russia involving a nuclear submarine and a climax that is great fun but cannot possibly be fully explained… with all manner of plot twists and revelations that I’m still trying to understand, and, yes – of course – sets up for further adventures in the Fast & Furious universe.
I like the Fast & Furious movies and I can handle the fact they’re not mean to be thought-provoking dramas and over-analysed… but this must surely rank up with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage as a ‘don’t think about the plot or the plausability, but just enjoy the ride’ scenario. Putting to one side the fact that Deckard Shaw becomes a good guy and everyone pretty much conveniently forgets what he did in the previous film, is there some missing scene where he got behaviour modification surgery, I wonder? That aside… we’ve got cars that defy gravity and… ye gods…Helen Mirren as the gangster mother of Statham and Luke Evans,…zombie cars, nuclear submarines giving chase, oh… and previously unmentioned family members and relationship consequences that nobody has ever mentioned or noticed (oh… she had a baby and nobody remembers she ever got pregnant or who the father was and…. well, you get the needed suspension of disbelief needed to make ANY of this work.
Fate of the Furious is directed by F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job remake) and is the first in what is planned as a new trilogy, with at least two more F & F movies already in development. It’s also the first film made without any involvement of the late Paul Walker, although his character is referenced more than once. It does seem as though he helped ground the series at times and with him gone, the great ideas and incredible action sequences remain but ‘reality’ is lost along with gravity. It’s also interesting to see how the other characters have evolved from their debuts: from street racers to international men of mystery, from mechanics to now Q-styled tech maestro, from ‘Law Enforcement Officers’ to torpedo surfing heroes, from vicious bad guys to baby-rescuing heroes. When did everyone get upgrades?
Fate of the Furious is big, its loud, its fun and its entertaining but it’s hollow! It really does feel like you’re watching cut scenes and stunt highlights from a video game rather than a real movie. If that’s all you’re there for, I can’t knock it, because it delivers everything it promises in the ‘best-moments’ trailer, but its not so much jumped the shark as literally jumped the submarine. With such a sense of unapologetic fun from the outset, you can’t really be offended by the questionable logic and various plot-holes – ones you can drive a semi-truck through – which they do.
Turn on the ignition, turn off your brain and sit back and have some fun…