I’m convinced that “The Fate of the Furious” – the eighth installment in the wildly successful $4 billion dollar franchise – was meant to be the last one in the series because they pull out all the stops, pick up on old storylines, and plug a lot of older characters in an effort to try to out-do the previous seven installments. This results in an ever-escalating competition to also outdo each successive action sequence in this latest flick itself, which culminates in The Fate of the Furious being the most over the top and ambitious in the series.
Don’t get me wrong, though; the dialog is still cringe-worthy, series star Vin Diesel still can’t act his way out of a Dodge Charger and celebrating every mention of “family” may still be a lethal drinking game. But at least the filmmakers headed by director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) know where the series’ strengths lie, and they accentuate those positives repeatedly: start off with hundreds of scantily clad ladies, followed up by straight-up street racing. Let Dwayne Johnson and Tyrese Gibson get most of the laughs. Make sure series regulars like Jason Statham and Kurt Russell show up and do their thing. Make the stakes irretrievably outsized with each passing scene while setting up the possibility of higher risks in a possible sequel (Charlize Theron certainly helps in this regard, creating a sinister villain who actually generates some genuine malice and tension amidst the absurdity).
But they also realize and avoid the inherent weaknesses by having Diesel drive instead of talk, give Michelle Rodriguez plenty of reason to simply scowl, and play up the awful music that telegraphs every emotion and turns on a dime from bombastic to tacky. Essentially, give the F&F audience what they want while making this installment more accessible to an otherwise disinterested audience (like myself!) who may have finally been dragged there to see what all the fuss is about.
And because these things make so much money, they’ve since announced two more movies in the works. I’m betting when they get to Furious 10 they’ll announce a Furious Dozen, although I don’t know what they’d do next—perhaps drag race Satan on the moon. The Fate of the Furious is so overstuffed with ridiculous awesomeness that outer space has gotta eventually figure in there, somewhere.
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Director: F. Gary Gray