There aren’t many movie franchises that can survive eight iterations, so there must be something special about The Fast and the Furious series.
As an astute colleague pointed out, it has a lot of things going for it: ample diversity in its casting (still a rarity nowadays), a great soundtrack, fancy, tricked-out cars, muscles and/or bare midriffs and/or cleavage (depending on your tastes) and lots of explosive crashes. With so many attributes to latch onto, it’s easy to forgive the series for its faults.
The Fate of the Furious doubles down on one particular aspect, and that’s family. A running theme throughout the franchise, this group of daring drivers is intensely emotional and willing to sacrifice their lives for one another. In the movie, Dom (Vin Diesel) goes rogue from his “family,” but we know that he’s only doing it for the greater good. While that drama takes place, of course there are numerous situations calling for a car race, or missions that can only be accomplished — somehow — by driving a car really fast through endless obstacles.
I’ve heard that the movie is totally ridiculous. Is that true?
You can’t focus too much on the plot, which is… yes, ridiculous. Once you stop and question the characters’ motivations for their actions, none of it really makes much sense. To compound matters, the chase and action scenes are over-the-top, featuring cars defying physics, gravity and basic concepts of motion at every turn. But the fact of the matter is that this is a Furious movie, so you’re expected to leave your critical naysaying at the door.
In the trailer, you see a submarine rise from the depths of an ocean, crash through the ice and chase our heroes. Totally unbelievable? Yep, but the movie is a spectacle — and when you think about it, it’s an actual creative feat to come up with this many ways to have cars race.
Aren’t Vin Diesel and The Rock getting too old for this?
There are a few scenes where Diesel’s lines are semi-incomprehensible, but hey, that’s sort of his thing: a gravelly, rambling voice (think Stallone) and general badassery. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson never gets old — both literally and figuratively. While the franchise tends to revolve around Diesel, co-star Michelle Rodriguez and the late Paul Walker, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about Johnson.
He instantly brings charisma to his scenes, and in all honesty, without him this film (and some of its predecessors) may have been too dry and one-note. It’s rare that an actor can bring humour, action and gravitas all at once, but he manages to do it. Let’s put it simply: this franchise would perish without him.
(Bonus points go to Tyrese — the comic relief — and Ludacris, whose brainiac persona is always a source of amusement. These two are also necessary to the film. Oh, and Jason Statham, a true action hero, who plays off of Johnson nicely.)
Charlize Theron is in this?
She is. While she obviously revels in playing the villain, there’s something slightly off about her presence here as Cipher, an internet mastermind virtually undetectable by the authorities. Seeing a great actor strut around the room like a cat and purr nonsense (seriously, if she had a tail, it would be strangling her scene partners) is jarring, and admittedly she’s a distraction rather than an asset. Her hair is an entirely separate question mark — though one can assume the production took their inspiration from Angelina Jolie’s character in that other car movie, Gone in 60 Seconds.
Are the car-chase scenes amazing?
For the most part, yes, they’re truly a sight to behold. There are moments when CGI is clearly visible (for example, when Diesel drives multiple “flaming” cars in the movie, or the “audience” on either side of the racing cars), but mostly they’re seamless. Over time, this franchise has distanced from its car-nuttiness origins, and instead is more about looking at the aesthetics of the car rather than what’s under the hood.
In fact, that’s an apt way to describe Fast and the Furious movies: forget about the substance, let’s just see how fast and far we can go.
So what’s the bottom line?
A wholly entertaining experience, The Fate of the Furious doesn’t give you time to mull whether or not you’re bored. From start to finish, it’s jam-packed with action. OK, so there are a few emotional dialogue scenes, but the filmmakers ultimately know what the audience wants, as indicated by their quick jumps from big scene to big scene. In short: Less talkin’, more smashin’.
‘The Fate of the Furious’ is now playing.