The Fate of the Furious Review
Franchise domination is rampant in modern entertainment, and the current studio goals have consistently been to top every previous entry, with constant remakes, Marvel and DC, and Star Wars films all adopting an annual factory-style of filmmaking. One such film franchise has found recent global success and has managed to surprisingly stay relevant for 16 years, despite its lack of beloved source material or overblown superpowers. Through a consistency in entertaining absurdity, The Fast and the Furious franchise, dedicated to fast cars and familial bonds, has been able to compete in an impressive way since its 2001 conception. In 2015, following the death of Paul Walker, the franchise’s star, Furious 7 captured audiences on a global scale, and the film was both a financial and critical success. With the bar set exceedingly high, The Fate of the Furious had fan expectations and the increasing set-piece irrationality to live up to. Utilizing a stellar cast and a building momentum, does The Fate of the Furious continue the franchise’s entertaining success, or is it another forgettable entry from an unoriginal Hollywood?
The film follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), who is abruptly taken from his honeymoon in Cuba by Cipher (Charlize Theron) to begin stealing global super-weapons. During a confidential EMP heist orchestrated by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Dom steals the EMP from his own team and leaves Hobbs behind in the wreckage of his car, shocked and enraged. With Dom seemingly going rouge for an unknown cause, his former squad, mostly comprised of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), must come together with Hobbs, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and the government to stop this villainous force and hopefully save Dom from himself. With the Fast family going head-to-head, no one can truly win, and the fate of the family - and the world - is at stake.
The Fate of the Furious’ plot is convoluted, unoriginal, and uninteresting, especially when compared to the established Fast-storyline. At this point, the franchise has gone through so many basic ideas of conflict that this eighth film has been forced to retread some mysterious rogue-related roads, which causes the film to feel overly predictable. In addition to the repetitive plot points, the film has so many characters simultaneously competing for screen-time that it often feels overcrowded and unfocused. With such a large cast, no one character is given enough time to truly shine in the way they did in previous iterations. Gibson’s Roman and Ludacris’s Tej, both show-stealers in previous films, feel forgotten in this bloated cast of stars, and their banter throughout the film seems like an afterthought to appease longtime fans. Likewise, Theron as Cipher is wholly underutilized, with her character merely serving as a throw-away villain who violently types on a computer and calls it “hacking”. Throughout most of the film, it becomes difficult to find any one character to follow and support other than Diesel’s Dom. Sadly, Diesel’s inability to emote makes Dom the most monotonous character in the entire film, leaving the audience with little to care about for the 2-hour runtime.
Despite the Fate of the Furious’ predictability and overcrowding, there is still some unintelligible enjoyment to be found. Fans of the franchise completely understand and accept the secondary nature of the plot, and those who love these films won’t care about Diesel’s lack of talent or the unnecessary inflation of the cast. To these fans, Fate’s plot must only be competent in its ability to deliver stunning and explosive set-pieces, which is truly the strongest aspect of these films. In this regard, The Fate of the Furious doubles down on the ridiculous racing, explosions, and fighting, and its commitment to cartoonish action is what makes the film even remotely watchable. There is something incredibly entertaining about watching a submarine break through the ice to send cars flying, and there is something intense about watching hacked self-driving cars smash through New York City. Every time The Fate of the Furious was losing steam with its dull plot, there would be a ridiculous action scene, like Dwayne Johnson’s prison break, to keep the film going.
Through this hilariously absurd action, The Fate of the Furious is able to deliver exactly what fans want, while doing nothing noteworthy to shake up the tired series for the future. It is a harmless and forgettable continuation that will surely find success among its large fan base and maintain the momentum of its predecessors, but with a lack of originality and resonance, the film fails to inspire anticipation for what is to come. The Fate of the Furious will undoubtedly please those that love fast cars, explosions, and one-liners, but it does little to bring in a new audience, and the formula can only sustain it for so long. Without any new roads to travel down, The Fate of the Furious leaves the series with a mediocre attempt to prolong the inevitable death of this franchise.