The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Central in the unwritten contract that each new film in the “Fast and Furious” franchise has with the audience is a major promise—that it will one-up each chapter that came before it. Ever since “Fast Five” made it its mission to be the biggest and baddest of the franchise, each new installment has held up that promise. And despite my concerns, “The Fate of the Furious” isn’t an exception to that trend. If you were afraid this franchise was going to lose focus or put the brakes on the high-octane thrills it’s known for, have no fear.
On their honeymoon in Havana, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are up to their old tricks. Driving a junky Cuban muscle car, Dom is challenged to a street race that ends in fire. But the next day, he encounters an enigmatic enchantress (Charlize Theron) with some information for Dom—and also blackmail. So when the rest of the team (Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, and Nathalie Emmanuel) is rounded up for a mission under the guidance of a rookie special agent (Scott Eastwood) and Dom goes rogue in an effort to pay off these debts, the team’s end goal will change dramatically and the stakes will rise to unprecedented new heights.
With a budget exceeding $200 million dollars (the first in the franchise to hit that mark, bringing the franchise’s total budget to over $1 billion), “The Fate of the Furious” has every reason to go above and beyond. Audiences have come to expect the laughably preposterous, and they’re treated to it here. But each new ridiculous stunt is only a testament to how big this franchise can go. If you stood by through the resurrection of Letty, the safe-dragging chase scene, and the airplane drop, nothing in “The Fate of the Furious” is going to scare you off. For “Fast and Furious” devotees, “The Fate of the Furious” is everything you could want, minus one obvious and tragic exception—but even the few allusions to Brian (played by Paul Walker in all but one of the first seven films) were a touching reminder of what we’re all missing. Even without Walker (and maybe, in fact, because of their shared grief), this cast’s camaraderie is even stronger than before. Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris pick up where they leave off, with gentle ribbing throughout. Dwayne Johnson drops intentionally terrible one-liners like he has since his character first appeared in “Fast Five.” Plus, Charlize Theron is a serviceable baddie in her freshman appearance in the franchise. Even Vin Diesel raises his voice a few times, a new look for the typically monotonous action star.
All that humor and heart, however, is nothing without some serious butt-kicking, and “The Fate of the Furious” brings fresh, exciting new thrills. I want so badly to divulge all the details, but I respect you enough not to spoil the fun. Just trust me when I say there are at least a couple scenes that will go down as some of the best in the franchise. There’s some impressive car choreography and majorly cool special effects. You can always count on this franchise to appeal to a wide swath of people, from all races and nationalities, and “The Fate of the Furious” is a worthy addition to the franchise that never seems to get old.