Fast 8: The Fate of the Furious (2017) Movie Review
F. Gary Gray
Gary Scott Thompson
If you need a review to know if you’re going to watch the newest needlessly longest-titled Fast & Furious film The Fate of the Furious, what is wrong with you? Did you really expect (or want) them to change the formula that’s obviously worked for the past 16 years?
The exception being that awful terrible no good Tokyo Drift. I think we all prefer that one never existed.
Am I fan of the series? Well, I’m not not a fan, as in I’ve shelled out money to watch all the films (except for Tokyo Drift because that looked stupid, and it was) and I like when I write reviews for them I don’t have to think of things like “Plot” or “character development” or “acting” or “logic”, because as you know, none of that applies here.
You want cars that go vroom vroom and by the grace of Vin Diesel’s monosyllabic line delivery you get that here.
I did wonder how F8 would stand up on its own now that it didn’t have the specter of Paul Walker’s death hanging over it. Even the series’ biggest fans would agree that the main reason Furious 7 worked as well as it did (even though the plot was more nonsensical than normal) was PWD nostalgia.
Now that’s gone.
F8 opens in Cuba, where Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriquez) are on their honeymoon. It took me a while to remember that they were married.
As he’s walking down street (with a baguette, no less) Dom stops to help a woman with car trouble that turns out to be a cybervillian named Cypher played by Charlize Theron who wants Dom to work for her and you’re like “No way Dom is going to work for a her because in every movie he spouts some drivel about “family” and not turning your back on them even though these speeches are usually the worst part of any FF movie blah blah blah. It’s not going to happen.”
But it does happen. From watching the trailer, this seemed like it might be the weakest part of the film, but when the motivation is revealed, it’s pretty legit. You know, for a Fast & Furious movie.
Dom steals an electromagnetic pulse machine to give to Cypher, much to the chagrin of Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, appearing in every film released since 2014) and to the rest of the cars going fast team.
You might say they are furious with him.
And now Hobbes is in prison for stealing the EMP because the secretary has disavowed any knowledge of his actions. That’s okay, because in the very next scene Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) shows up to offer him freedom.
Hobbs refuses, saying he’ll get out on his own. Then Hobbs sees Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, appearing in every mediocre action movie from the past 12 years), who he put in prison in the previous film. There’s the flexing and the staredowns you’d expect from 2 alpha males, but before things get too homoerotic, there’s a prison riot and Hobbs and Shaw make their way back to Mr. Nobody’s loving arms.
Mr. Nobody proposes that Shaw become part of the team. Not all of them are down with that because, you know, he blew up the token Asian character in Tokyo Drift, but we’ll just overlook that just like we didn’t care about the Michelle Rodriquez amnesia subplot or that in 2015 we really did have flying cars because of Furious 7.
Now Hobbs oversees the cars go fast team and they’re tasked to find Dom before he does something else bad. Like steal stuff from the Russians.
Come to think of it the more F8 plays the more that it feels like a plot from a 1960s Bond movie. Good thing no one watching a Fast & Furious movie cares a whit about plot.
In retrospect, I could have just copied and pasted my Furious 7 review for F8 and just removed all the times I wrote “Paul Walker is Dead”.
What Works With The Fate of the Furious
—Oh, F8 = Fate. I *just* got that. How clever, working the 8 into the title of the film (“I 8 the sandbox”)
- Because Vin Diesel spends a good portion of F8 (hey, they worked in the 8 into the title of the film #Clever) saying “Yes Massa, No Massa” to Charlize Theron, Dw8ne Johnson essentially becomes the lead of the movie. I think we can all agree Dw8ne Johnson is a much more compelling leading man than V8n Die8el.
- Jason Statham gets the funniest action scene of the entire series involving a plane and a very special package, using the comic timing he displayed in Spy to full effect.
- Kurt Russell steals all 3 scenes he’s in with his dry delivery of what could have been blocky chunks of exposition (See: The awful parts of Suicide Squad. I know, there are a lot of them). He grounds the ridiculousness with a wink and Plissken-y presence. Russell knows how absurd these movies are and acts accordingly.
What Doesn't Work With Fate of the Furious
- It’s been clear since Fast 6 that Ludacris is the Hawkeye of the group, especially now since Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey plays another hacker character, and she’s much easier on the eyes. Since you already have Tyrese playing black comic relief, maybe retire or kill Luda’s character so he’s not dipping into someone else’s screen time.
- F8 is the first FF film since Tokyo Drift that feels like the franchise has taken a slight step backward. Granted, Tokyo Drift was just plain appalling and we gave Furious 7 a free pass because of Paul Walker, but this is the first time (despite F. Gary Gray’s efficient direction) that it seems like the franchise is treading water. I suppose it’s a testament to the movies that it took them 8 films to do so and it’ll still make Dieselillions of dollars. But to be fair, no one looks to the FF films for quality.
- We see what you’re doing, trying to replace pasty white All-American-y Paul Walker with pasty whiter All-American-er Scott Eastwood. Don’t think we don’t notice.
Despite the downtick in quality, you’re fated to see The Fate of the Furious, because there’s nothing else opening this weekend and you don’t feel like thinkin8.
Fast & Furious is to Transformers what Target is to Walmart.