Ealasaid A. Haas
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood
Rated: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language
“The Fate of the Furious” is the eighth installment in the popular “Fast and Furious” franchise, and it continues the progression of escalating awesomeness and a steadily growing cast. Not having seen the other movies won’t interfere with enjoying the action sequences, but the secondary emphasis is on family relationships – and without the previous movies, you’ll have to just roll with a lot of the dialog. On the bright side, the progression from 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious” to the new film is a lot of fun to watch. These are movies worth marathoning. “Fate,” like the others, is a cheesy action movie, and it doesn’t just know it, it revels in it.
The story picks up not long after “Furious 7” ends. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon when Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) summons them and the rest of the team for another job to save the world. Unfortunately, the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something that makes Dom unquestioningly do her bidding – including betraying his family. The rest of the story is the team battling Dom and Cipher, trying to stop Cipher from getting access to weapons including an EMP generator and nuclear missiles, and trying to figure out why Dom is working for the villain.
“The Fast and The Furious” films always, always have three things: fast cars, sexy ladies in very short shorts/bikinis, and (especially after the first couple of films) mind-boggling action sequences. “Fate” delivers on all fronts, especially the last. After the sequence in “Furious 7” where Dom drives a sports car out of one skyscraper and into another (twice!), the bar was set pretty high. “Fate” gives us a chase sequence involving hundreds of active cars rather than just a few cars weaving through traffic. It also gives us a tank, a nuclear submarine, and heat-seeking missiles. These sequences are spectacular, and if some of the CGI looks iffy here and there, it’s because I was looking for it. This is worth seeing on the biggest screen available. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Is it awesome? Hell yes! Be prepared to gawk.
There’s lots of talk about family, and it’s fun to see how the various characters added as the series progressed are becoming part of the team. Even the dastardly Deckard (Jason Statham) is here to lend a hand. A lot of the film’s humor (and there’s quite a bit of that to go around, which helps even out the seriousness of the overarching plot) comes from how characters like Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) interact with each other.
One thing that often goes unmentioned about “The Fast and the Furious” films is the casting. Of the dozen or so central characters, more than half are women and more than half are people of color – and they’ve been like that since the beginning. It’s not commented on, but once you notice it, it’s obvious. You wouldn’t expect a movie with closeups of ladies’ behinds to also have really progressive casting, but here we are.
Vin Diesel has worked hard to keep the series going after the tragic death of his co-star, Paul Walker, in 2013 (the tribute at the end of “Furious 7” is beautiful), and he’s succeeded admirably. There’s been talk about two more films, plus several spin-offs, and if “Fate” is any indication, they’re worth looking forward to.