Written by: Chris Morgan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson
When you’ve got something that essentially prints money, it becomes difficult for a studio to justify ending it prior to diminishing returns becoming apparent. This reality becomes ever-apparent when looking at the Fast & Furious franchise and the creation of The Fate of the Furious. A film with enough ridiculousness and quality to stand as its own but narratively truly does not need to exist.
While on his honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto (Vin Diesel) gets approached by cyberterrorist Cypher (Charlize Theron) about working for her. After seeing what she has with her, he must now turn against his team in order to protect whatever she seemingly has been holding hostage over him.
On a narrative level, Fate of the Furious feels wicked and overwrought with how it tries to justify continuing this franchise. With the incredible success of Furious 7, which also serves as yet another perfect conclusion for the franchise, it continues on by presenting the villain Cypher. She apparently has been the big bad behind everything in the series of films and has connections to the Shaws and Braga, which Toretto and his crew have foiled in the previous movies. Now she wants the ultimate revenge in having the man who has ruined various schemes of hers do all of the dirty work.
Knowing of all of the on-set drama between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson makes that narrative make more sense with the former working as a producer on the project. Diesel has been there from the beginning and has remained the face of this franchise while having to share it with Dwayne Johnson since his inclusion in Fast Five. With the main struggle surrounding Toretto turning against his family, the plot feels like a complete flex for this character. The ultimate villain for Toretto’s team happens to be the leader himself. It gives off a self-aggrandizing vibe especially when it shows how the rest of the team cannot possibly match up to him. No scene makes it clearer than when they head to New York and the team members try to capture Toretto by hooking onto his car. Now, I understand Toretto is an excellent driver but when it gets to the point where he can easily fend off all of these great drivers, it gets a bit ridiculous.
Similarly, the rehabilitation of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) feels insidious at best. He aligns with Toretto’s team and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with Cypher serving as the common enemy but the ease to which they allow him to be a good guy after murdering Han in cold blood is unforgivable. Listen, I understand Statham has plenty of charisma and the chemistry he builds with Dwayne Johnson feels electric but under no circumstance could this character be rehabilitated. Granted, this comes from someone whose favorite character in the entire franchise is Han but Toretto preaches the importance of family throughout all of the films. Even with the good deeds Shaw accomplishes in this story, and he has a tremendous sequence on a plane, it can never make up for what he did and I will hear nothing about it.
With each passing film, the narratives get weaker but the action sequences continue to escalate to an exponential degree. This film features the crew taking on a submarine for goodness’ sake and every element of it looks and dumb but proves to be endlessly entertaining. It allows for each character to shine in a distinguishable manner and demonstrates the dangerous nature of the things they do. Sometimes I just sit back and think of how ridiculous it is for them to have taken on a submarine and it allows for theories as to what may be next. They’ve taken on a plane, tank, helicopter, all of Rio de Janeiro’s corrupt police force, and now a submarine. Space has to be next, right?
Even with all of the unsavory elements, Fate of the Furious continues the tradition of weak storytelling but awesome action this franchise has to offer. This film remains unafraid of what it provides its fanbase and delivers it with a level of fun everyone can expect. Eight movies into the franchise will ensure anyone seeking it out knows exactly what they are in for as it will certainly not convert any skeptics.