It remains the most unlikely and surprising movie mega-franchise, yet that’s exactly what the “Fast and Furious” films have become. Now we are eight movies in (yes, EIGHT) and it has done nothing to lessen its position as a box office juggernaut. “Furious 8” had a worldwide debut of $532.5 million, shattering the global record for an opening weekend. And after three weeks it has already cleared $1 billion. Not bad for a series once about street racing in Los Angeles.
I heard it speculated that the previous film got a box office boost from being the last installment featuring Paul Walker following his sad, untimely death. That may be selling the franchise short. Since it’s identity shift in 2011’s “Fast Five” the series has steadily grown in budget and gross. “Fate” sports a whopping $250 million budget which helps it follow its successful formula – bigger, louder, and more over-the-top that its predecessor.
The gang’s all back plus a few (or should I say the family is back since that is the one thin but central running theme). Big names have steadily been added including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham to name a few. But this is still Vin Diesel’s show and he returns as Dominic Toretto. Dom is enjoying his honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in Havana, Cuba. That is until he is confronted by a shadowy cyberterrorist ominously named Cipher (Charlize Theron).
Cipher has a big secret and uses it to force Dom to do her bidding. Doing so requires him to turn on his family and go rogue. Hobbs (Johnson), Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are approached by the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Russell) and tasked with stopping Dom before he enables Cipher to carry out her nefarious master plan.
F. Gary Gray takes the directing baton from James Wan and crafts a FF installment that hits on every cylinder particularly for fans of the series (interesting fact – “Fate” has already become the highest grossing film for an African-American director). Writer Chris Morgan returns and has now written six of the franchise’s eight movies. It can’t be easy for Morgan to meet the ‘bigger, crazier’ expectations nor can it be a breeze for Gray to capture it with such mammoth studio demands. For the most part they pull it off.
Now don’t get me wrong, “Fate” still requires you to turn off an entire portion of your brain. It’s absurdities can’t be calculated by the human mind. But it works because it maintains a keen sense of self-awareness. It knows it’s nuts and doesn’t shy away from it. In fact it has fun with the craziness of its scenarios. It consistently flashes its vital sense of humor which is absolutely essential. And one thing about it, you can sense everyone on screen is having a blast (I say that despite the much publicized real-life heat between Diesel and Johnson. But don’t worry, all it well now between the two stars meaning a ninth installment is all but assured).
Like most of its predecessors “The Fate of the Furious” is true to its ambitions. Fans of the series are sure to be pleased; detractors will be able to use their same arguments. I tend to enjoy these things. They’re goofy, action-packed, escapist entertainment. That’s why I had a good time with “Fate”. The characters are still fun, the action is a hoot, and the story had enough interesting turns to keep me engaged. Still, let’s be honest, these will never be considered ‘great movies’, but there seems to be enough under the the hood to keep it going. How long it can continue, well, that’s the real question.
VERDICT – 3.5 STARS
Fast movies are my guiltiest of pleasures. I will never tire from the over the top absurdity of them haha It’s just not possible!
Snap to that!
I hear ya. I think their key ingredient is their understanding that they are completely and unquestionably absurd. They seem to have fun with their nuttiness. And actually it works in their favor.
One of my favorite franchises and I’ll tell anyone who will listen about it haha. It is perfect for when I need to switch my brain off and just enjoy something. Don’t think I will be able to get to a cinema in time for this one, but I will certainly catch it the moment it is on DVD.
That’s the response I have to them. And you know what, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that type of entertainment. I actually really appreciate their willingness to throw aside any and all seriousness.
I can’t bring myself to give this more than 2/5 due to it being quite so stupid, but I still really enjoyed it for what it’s worth – it’s a franchise that defies star ratings!
That’s a good point. Star ratings may not be appropriate. But I’ll give it higher marks simply because it knows what it wants to be and it doesn’t try to be anything different. I can really appreciate that.
What I have really come to enjoy about these movies is that Kurt Russell gets to play perhaps his coolest-named character of his career. Mr. Nobody? Haha! How mysterious!!!
Wait, no. Scratch that. It still doesn’t come anywhere close to MacReady. That’s a badass name, no matter the situation. But in the situation he was in in The Thing, man that’s just perfect.
Russell is an absolute hoot – yucking it up and having a blast. Mr. Nobody headquartered at Nowhere. Brilliant!
I enjoyed it quite a bit, it falls somewhere in the middle for me (behind 5, the original, 6, and maybe 7) but it is a ton of fun.
Fast Five is the one that really got me onboard. Wasn’t as crazy about 6. I did enjoy 7 and this one a bit more.
These movies are a blast of fun, sugar included. I constantly sit there wondering how they’ll top this with the next film, and each time I’m pleasantly surprised.
Bring on the next three or four instalments!
They’re a hoot aren’t they? One of the greatest reinventions of a movie brand in cinema history.