Hey Fast fans, it’s Slick Dungeon back to review yet another film in this huge franchise. The Fate of the Furious is the eighth film in the series and it’s just as full of ridiculous over the top stunts as you can possibly get. Until they make the next one that is. Note there will be spoilers here so if you haven’t seen the first eight of these movies you may want to watch before reading. I do have reviews of the first seven films if you want to save some time though. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here, Fast and Furious here, Fast Five here, Fast and Furious 6 here, and Furious 7 here.
The seventh film was the last one with Paul Walker in it. This movie had to continue the franchise, try to tie up some loose ends, be a spectacular action film, and provide a coherent plot with a great villain all while including a huge roster of characters. It’s a pretty big to do list for a film. Did this one pull off a stunt worthy of a torpedo sliding along the ice at high velocity or was it just an exploding submarine of a film?
Let’s dig in and find out!
Spoilers follow below!
Dom’s Gone Rogue
In this movie there’s a pretty complicated set up but I am going to try to summarize it the best I can. Deep breath. A few films ago, Dom thought his lifelong love Letty was dead and he was dating a woman named Elena. But Letty actually wasn’t dead, she had just lost her memory. Dom found out and rescued Letty, becoming a super spy in the process along with the rest of his team who have all gone from petty theft to global espionage because they are good at racing cars. Dom is on his long awaited honeymoon with Letty in Cuba where he races a local racer named Raldo so he can keep his cousin’s car from being taken. Dom takes the worst car in Havana to race against the fastest car there. With a bit of Dom’s magic engineering skills, including ripping doors off of the car with his bare hands, he wins the race even when Raldo cheats. But Dom does win the dude’s respect.
Also, in the last two films, Dom and his team have stopped a pair of brothers with the last name Shaw and a guy named Mose Jakande and saved the world in the process.
The thing that means the most in the world to Dom is family and that’s how he treats his team. All in all, Dom is a good guy who might be a little rough around the edges but you can count on him when you need him.
So, it’s extra strange when Dom is stopped by a woman who acts as if she needs help fixing her car. Turns out she rigged the car because she wants to get Dom to not only work for her, but betray his whole team. This woman is Cypher (Charlize Theron) and she shows him a video on her phone. We don’t see what it is but it’s enough to get Dom to agree.
Hobbs, one of the heroes of the last few films is recruited back to work to track down an EMP which can take out the functions of a city block. Hobbs goes to Dom’s team for help. We never actually see how the team recovers the EMP but things are exploding everywhere and they make it clear this is Roman’s fault. At the end of the job, Dom and Hobbs split off from the group and Dom rams his car into Hobbs to steal the EMP. Hobbs is unable to get out of the wrecked car in time, despite, you know, surviving an explosion and jumping out of a fourth story window and being mostly fine in the last movie. Anyway for the movie to happen Dom needs to get the EMP thing.
He delivers it to Cypher and it’s clear Dom is under her thumb. Mr. Nobody from the last movie gets Dom’s team together as well as Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw are the only two people in the world who have successfully located Dom when he didn’t want to be found. They hate each other but they have to work together.
There’s a bit of back and forth with the team trying to use God’s eye from the last movie and Cypher hacking back so they can’t. They pinpoint Dom to be right where they are. Dom and Cypher and the rest of her team attack and Dom gets God’s eye. Letty knows there is something wrong here and can’t believe Dom ever really betrayed them.
The team next see Dom in New York City where he is working with Cypher to get the nuclear codes from a Russian diplomat. Cypher is able to hack all the computerized systems in the cars in the area and the movie must have set a record for destroying the most cars in a single movie ever with that sequence. The team catches up to Dom but try as they might, he’s too good for them and gets away.
We find out Dom is being controlled by Cypher because it turns out when he and Elena were together, she got pregnant and Dom is now a father. Cypher has Elena and their son locked up in a secure glass cage under threat of death if Dom disobeys. Although it seems he is turning his back on his team who is his family, he’s really just doing what he always does, he’s protecting his family. Cypher hates Dom because the last two bad guys he has taken down were basically working for Cypher. She also has Elena killed so we know Dom is going to be royally pissed.
There’s an insane amount of stunt set pieces going on in the film. There’s a sequence involving a bunch of cars racing on ice in Russia, a sequence of Jason Statham having a shootout on an airplane while holding a baby, at one point Dwayne Johnson pulls out a concrete bench from a wall and does bicep curls with it, four cars try to draw and quarter Dom’s car but are unsuccessful, oh and did I mention Helen Mirren is in this?! Yeah she plays the Shaw boys’ mother. Plus, there is a nuclear submarine which is “car-jacked” although I would say it should be called submarine-jacking but whatever.
Basically if you took all the ingredients of an action film and threw them against a wall to see what sticks, it is in this movie.
And of course, Dom has set things up so he and his team will be safe and victorious. He even brokers a deal with Shaw’s mother so they help him out. Deckard and Owen Shaw rescue the baby. Dom comes to the aid of his team just in the knick of time and Cypher is forced to parachute out of her own plane, setting her up as a return villain.
The team learn Dom has a kid and they understand why he had to act the way he did so they can all be together as family once again. Even Shaw is not completely unwelcome, except Hobbs still hates him (but that’s a tale for a spinoff movie)
And in a gesture to Paul Walker, Dom names his kid Brian. We leave the team in relative safety but with the looming threat of Cypher still out there.
I tried to summarize things above but there is so much happening in these movies at this point it would be nearly impossible to catch it all. I didn’t even get into the side competition of Roman and Tej vying for the affections of Ramsey, nor did I talk about how Scott Eastwood comes on as the new guy working with Mr. Nobody.
If it sounds like there is just too much happening in this movie, well, yeah there is. But who cares? This franchise has driven off the cliff of believability long ago. It’s also quietly and without fanfare built up one of the most diverse casts in film franchise history. (Would be nice to see some LGBTQ representation here though) And for whatever reason, this cast of people who start out as petty thieves somehow become more or less believable as super spies. I mean the stuff they are doing defies physics in every way possible turning this into a superhero movie franchise essentially but the character drama is real. When Dom turns on Letty, it hurts as an audience member but we also know Letty won’t give up on him. And I honestly defy anyone who has come this far with the series to say they didn’t have a good time watching this. Are there huge plot holes? Yup. Are there moments with extremely weird and cheesy dialogue like, “I am the crocodile at the watering hole?” Yup. Does any of that matter? Nope. They’ve built up enough good will here with solid hits and being able to top themselves every time that I am just along for the ride.
Sure, there are movies in this series I prefer more than others. I really like the first, third and fifth movies myself but on the whole, no notes from me for these movies. And while Fate of the Furious may not be critically beloved or even have the biggest fan base as far as the rest of the movies in the series go, it’s still a solid action film full of great stunts, good character drama, and twists at every turn.
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