The eighth and latest entry in ‘The Fast And The Furious’ franchise is fun like its predecessors and similar to a fault.
It makes the argument that with nothing new being brought to the table, how much longer can the series continue, and yet, without a severe dip in quality... Why should it finish up?
The first film back in 2001 was about illegal street racing and robbery to a certain degree. Sequels came and diminishing returns set in until ‘Fast Five’ in 2011 made the series evergreen. Since then, the films have solidified around a multi-ethnic ensemble and increasingly over-the-top action moving from the heist genre gradually into the jet-setting superspy one.
Never anything but enjoyable, they’re also interchangeable using an established formula, like the 'James Bond' films do, that repeats with little variances. Like the 'Bond' films too, they are defined by their villain and remembered for their set pieces. For example, a casual viewer might differentiate the last one by saying “it was the one where they parachuted cars out of planes” and “the one where the good guys fought Jason Statham”.
Yet the films have also maintained a theme of family among their core heroes which seems to come from an authentic place, with the actors themselves having worked together over several years and having shared many highs and lows. This was given new poignancy when actor Paul Walker passed during the filming of the last in the series and had his character given a moving send-off.
Allusions to deeper themes continue here, with ideas of slowing down and becoming domesticated as family gives you responsibilities. On the other hand, this is more likely to be remembered as “the one where Dom (Vin Diesel) goes rogue against his team, where there is a cool battle with a submarine in the snow and Charlize Theron is the villain”.
Charlize Theron’s Cipher is a hacker who prefers to fight using psychology rather than her fists which is a little interesting in such a testosterone-fuelled actioner, but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere too unpredictable. Theron is slumming it but her credibility remains intact and she gives Dom a real conundrum. Dame Helen Mirren is essentially doing a cameo but has a lot more fun, and it would be great to see more of her in an inevitable ninth go around.
In short, the action scenes are cool, the outlandish characters and dialogue remain a hoot and if the pacing could’ve used some tightening in the middle all is forgiven after the third act finale.
This is a film where Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson redirects a torpedo with his bare hands while skiing alongside it hanging off the side of a moving vehicle. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, then maybe you should wait for another blockbuster. If it does, then thank you for reading this review because you were always going to see ‘The Fate Of The Furious’ regardless, weren’t you?
'The Fate Of The Furious' is in cinemas now.