Fate of the Furious, directed by F. Gary Gray, is the eighth film in The Fast and the Furious franchise and follows the team after they’ve been portrayed by their leader, Dom (Vin Diesel). The rest of the team has to stop Dom and a terrorist Hacker, Cypher (Charlize Theron), before they can get a hold of several Russian nuclear weapons.
This is a franchise that people either love or they hate. I tend to fall right in the middle with my feelings about it. I think the past three films have been fun and ridiculous where you can just turn your brain off and enjoy, while I also think that the first film is a decent B-movie crime drama. That being said, I thought that this franchise should’ve ended after Paul Walker died because of the fact that he was the heart and soul of the franchise and they essentially lost the heart when he passed away. The studio continued on though and admittedly tried something different with this film but lost the ridiculousness that made the previous films a success.
While I don’t think that this film is successful in what it was going for, there are definitely several good things about the film, namely the dynamic between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Johnson’s character, Hobbs, has some of the most ridiculous lines I’ve heard in a film in probably ever, but because of Johnson’s charisma, they come off well enough to be funny. The same goes for Statham’s Deckard Shaw because it seems like he’s having fun playing the part and enjoys chewing the scenery, which is what these films need to be and have been previously.
That’s one of the main reasons I felt that this film wasn’t good though; the actors didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves like in previous entries of the franchise. For the most part, they were being overly serious when there was no reason for them to be and it almost seemed like this was just another paycheck film for them.
The other big reason that I felt that this film didn’t work was that it went for more drama than in every other installment except for the original. There is much more intensity and weight given to Vin Diesel’s Dom and there are several scenes that are way too dark for what anything in this franchise should be, even if they were surprisingly well-acted by Diesel. If those scenes were in most other films, then I think it would’ve enhanced the film, but in this franchise, they sucked all of the fun out of the film and left a raincloud over it.
The action scenes also succumbed to being too dark as well. While keeping the ridiculousness that the franchise is known, there are often times where something is shown from a point of view other than the main characters and it caused me to think, “How many people died during this?” During a film like this, a question like that shouldn’t even cross the audience’s mind, but because several of the shot choices caused me to think that, it pulled me out of the film and I lost what enjoyment I was supposed to be having in the scene.
On top of all of that, the action scenes weren’t even that good. They were okay, but they weren’t crazy like they needed to be, a la the tank in Fast and Furious 6 and the car hopping between skyscrapers in Furious 7. The hand to hand fight scenes weren’t better either. Most were shot in close-up with an abundance of shaky cam and it was hard to tell what was going on.
There was also another character introduced in this film, played by Scott Eastwood, which was an obvious replacement for Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor. The archetype of the character was the same as Brian’s original archetype and he even drove the same brand of car that the character of Brian liked to drive. Honestly, I kind of found the inclusion of said character offensive to the memory of Paul Walker.
Overall, Fate of the Furious is too dramatic for its own good and lacks the ridiculousness that it needed to save it. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you may find some enjoyment, but if you aren’t, don’t waste your time.