Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious

Certificate 12A, 136 minutes

Director: F. Gary Gray

Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson

The Fate of the Furious, also called Fast & Furious 8 and Fast 8, is the eighth instalment in the Fast & Furious franchise. It opens with a classic American muscle car, a red Impala, heading to a car meet in Havana, Cuba. The car is Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) and he and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are in Havana on their honeymoon. There, Dominic gets involved in a car race in order to stop his cousin’s car being taken away. This race doesn’t really have that much to do with the plot, it’s just a reason to include another race in the film, albeit an impressive one by the end of which Dom is driving a car that is on fire.

The Fate of the FuriousDom is heading back to his and Letty’s place, perhaps the next day, when he stops to help a woman (Charlize Theron) who has broken down. Only she hasn’t; she has deliberately broken her vehicle and arranged things to speak to Dom. The woman states that she has a job offer for Dom, which he refuses, and then she shows him something on a mobile phone. Something that will make him change his mind.

In the U.S., Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is giving a pep talk. This is deliberately made to sound like a combat mission of some type, but it’s clear that this is being done to give the wrong impression. For Hobbs is actually giving a pep talk to his daughter’s soccer team, one which ends with a group of young girls going out on the pitch and performing a haka (a Maori war dance) in front of the opposing team. Which is admittedly quite intimidating.

During the match Hobbs is approached by a man from the government who wants Hobbs to go on an unsanctioned mission to Berlin, one in which if he is captured he will be sent to prison. The mission is to recover a stolen electromagnetic pulse weapon capable of knocking out an entire city. Hobbs agrees, and contacts Dom for help.  The mission in Berlin goes successfully, and the team escape with the weapon. Then Dom turns on Hobbs, knocking his vehicle off the road and stealing the EMP weapon. Dom drives off ahead of the police, driving onto a plane. whilst Hobbs get’s arrested. The plane is a high tech flying fortress belonging to the woman that spoke to Dom in Cuba.

Hobbs is sent to a ultra maximum security prison but, outside it, he is approached by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and his associate Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood). Mr. Nobody wants Hobbs to do a job for him but, in what is probably unjustified confidence in the legal system, Hobbs refuses, saying he will prove his innocence. The prison happens to be the same one that Deckard (Jason Statham) is being held at, and the two occupy themselves making various threats to each other prior to a prison riot which sees the return of Mr. Nobody.

Hobbs, along with Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), have been recruited by Mr. Nobody to work for him to find Dom. This is because Dom is now working with a cyberterrorist called Cipher – the woman who approached Dom in Cuba. Ramsey, no slouch at computers herself, says she thought that Cipher was an organisation, one which even the hacktivist group Anonymous steers clear of annoying, but according to Nobody, it’s actually just one person. The team will also have the assistance of another, the only person other than Hobbs to successfully locate Toretto – Deckard. This doesn’t go down well. Deckard himself wants revenge on Cipher, blaming her for what happened to his brother.

Cipher has some sort of complicated plan and the EMP weapon is only the start of it. She needs several other things as well, and Dom is helping her. Letty refuses to believe that he has fully turned, because she, and the rest, don’t actually know what the hold Cipher has on Dom is, and it’s certain there is a hold, because he indicated right at the beginning that he wouldn’t willingly work for her. The hold itself is revealed partway through the film, to the viewer at least but not the rest of Dom’s team. Attempts to find Dom result in massive vehicular mayhem in New York, as Hobbs and the rest are given access to a whole range of cars confiscated from criminals, before taking a trip to the frozen wastes of Russia.

At the time of Furious 7, there were rumours that Paul Walker‘s brother, Cody, would perhaps have a role in the next film playing his brother following his accidental death whilst the film was being shot, especially as Cody did fill in in a couple of scenes, but this is not the case. Paul Walker’s character, Brian, is mentioned in passing, and there is an element that would appear to be dedicated to him – it’s one whose set up can be seen very far in advance so it isn’t a surprise when it occurs close to the end of the film.

A number of film franchises have made it to this many films, and have surpassed this one in terms of years out. Of those, there aren’t very many that are still producing decent films – Star Wars is one of the most notable entrants, but James Bond is another. Many, by the time they are getting so close to double figures, have become quite dreadful. So, this doesn’t sound like promising odds, but fortunately this latest film in the series delivers what it’s supposed to do – the wobbliest in the series was probably the second. This film isn’t really suffering from being such a high number, certainly not going by the figures.

F8 is full-on vehicular mayhem, with Tej finally getting a tank, and set pieces in several different countries. Having to take the mayhem to the next level, one of the primary car chases in the film involves a submarine and a frozen sea, which is certainly very impressive to watch. Another set piece displays the real problems involved in having auto-driving cars that are connected to the internet – namely, they can be hacked. At which point the hacker has full control of them. A disturbing thought for the future. There is also quite a lot of violence; physical violence from Hobbs and Deckard, the former going more for sheer brute force and the latter a rather more athletic type. Plus all the vehicular violence with various different vehicles shot up, blown up, crushed or otherwise destroyed. There isn’t really much in the way of bloodshed – which is certainly not true to life given the sheer level of destruction perpetrated on vehicles which have occupants – with the only major piece happening off-camera.

Yes, there are some holes in the plot and elements that don’t make sense if they are thought about too much, but this isn’t a very cerebral type of film, it’s about the cars and the car chases and the action. As well as the submarine and the tank there is the usual combination of modern supercars and classic American muscle cars. Helen Mirren makes a cameo and there are some appearances from characters seen in other films in the franchise; naming Mirren’s character or some of the reoccurring characters would, however, give away a large part of the plot. The Fate of the Furious is a good entry in the series, providing more of what the franchise is good at (so a viewer who doesn’t like mayhem, cars and car chases is probably not going to like this) and there is already another sequel already in motion, as there was certainly a dangling plot thread at the end.

 

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