Summer is around the corner which means it’s time for another installment of “what the hell will the Fast and Furious series do next?” In the last installment, fans were taken aback death of Paul Walker (a man I considered the heart of the series) which left me wondering if the series could recover from the lost of such a prominent figure. Not only does the franchise survive without Walker (RIP) but it’s even more ridiculous and exciting than Dwayne Johnson’s fake feud with Vin Diesel.
The eighth installment of the franchise finds Dom and Letty in Havana on their honeymoon. Here, women look like runway models, the sun always shines, and Dom is respected by the most fearsome bully on the island after partaking in an old-school 1-mile car race that feels like an homage to the 2001 installment. Everything is going wonderful for our happy pair until Cipher (Charlize Theron), a mysterious blonde with visually confusing hair, forces our hero to do the unthinkable by turning his back on those he loves the most — and those he probably just can’t stand (Dwayne Johnson). As the team adjusts to Dom’s fast and furious betrayal, they are brought together once again to outsmart the only man whose knows their every move and a woman who can hack anything.
The Fate of the Furious is a beautiful mess; nonsensical, uneven and laughable. Despite that, it’s hands down the best of the series. Tying together the theme of family, it tests friendships, the boundaries of love — all with glorious stunts. Bringing back some of the series favorites (sorry Shad Moss but that will never be you), Vin Diesel’s brute force strength and leadership takes a backseat allowing other characters to flex their muscles and bantering ability. Michelle Rodriguez is the bad-ass we know and love who effortless steps into the role as the team leader, unable to accept Dom’s betrayal. While The Rock and Jason Statham’s on-going feud continues to great heights. Never becoming tiresome, their bantering is a side-splitting gag reel.
While everyone (new and old) helps to make Fate of the Furious enjoyable, the film really belongs to Charlize Theron, who has yet to fail at playing a villain. As Cipher, she is captivating, heartless, and stunning. A woman on a mission, her scenes ooze with evil intent and pure fun. Like her role in Fury Road, Theron proves she can handle the toughest of men, and the craziest of scripts.
What really makes fans come back for more are the over-the-top stunts. Visually stunning, director F Gary Gray captures the gorgeousness of each of the movie’s various locations. From the vibrant colors of New York City, to the soul of Havana, and the unforgiving cold of Iceland (Russia in the movie). Addictive and exciting, Gray is a man on a mission who delivers feats too ridiculous to accomplish. From a prison-break fight scene that sees Dwayne Johnson stopping everyone from men to missiles, an eloquent NYC zombie car chase, and outrunning a submarine, this film’s stunts makes Fast 7 look like Iron Fist’s fight scenes.
Fate is far from perfect, the script is a paint-by-numbers fest that doesn’t challenge its actors nor allows for character growth. While the stunts are mind-blowing, often times they feel like Michael J. Fox filmed the scene. However, despite being shaky and oddly edited, these are minor issues that can be overlooked.
Like biting into a rich candy bar that’ll finally send you into a diabetic coma, Fate is the wet dream of action films. Does this film make any sense? No. Does it produce Oscar-award winning acting? Hell no – and none of that matters because that’s not why this series is so successful. It’s mindless fun entertainment that puts a smile on our faces. It puts an extra beat in our hearts. And it sends adrenaline coursing through our veins. The Fate of the Furious delivers that and more. Seriously, can Fast 9 release now?