By: Muneeb Arshid
You would think that the eighth film in a series would be getting close to a gratuitous cash grab from a movie studio. Well, that’s essentially it in the case of the Fast and the Furious series. Gratuitous, bloated, and “explosion-y” is what’s left of the series.
We now arrive at the eighth film, named The Fate of the Furious, directed by F. Gary Gray who was last seen in the business directing Straight Outta Compton back in 2015. This is the first film in the series after the unfortunate death of Paul Walker. Was this film really necessary? Probably not! However, as the box office figures have shown, the film has made over $500 million around the world which means that the thirst is there for this type of film, and specifically this series.
So, how did Universal Pictures deal with the loss of Walker’s character Brian? Well, there’s one mention of the character by Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) “to not bother Brian and Mia” and that was that. Now, the film itself is not like the Fast and the Furious films of old. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing, on the contrary, I would argue that the best film of the series was the last one in Furious 7. However, it is true that the film has gone sideways from the original street racer films to a more generic action, shooter style series especially with the introduction of Dwyane Johnson.
Unlike Fast 7, who’s plot was quite poignant for an action film, The Fate of the Furious features a very 1970s-esque plotline featuring Russians and nuclear bombs and submarines, something which is becoming more relevant in the political world, but still feels very vintage in the film world.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty are enjoying their honeymoon in Cuba when Dom is approached by a mysterious woman, later known to be Cipher (Charlize Theron) who shows Dom a video recruiting him to the “bad side” deceiving his team and leaving them hurt as to why he would turn his back on family. This series has always been about that, family, and family is something that is tested here in F8 where every character has to redefine who and what they believe to be part of their family. Of course, you’ve got the usual characters back again with Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), new member Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and the new unofficial member of the family Luke Hobbs (Dwyane Johnson). Throughout the film, each and every member of the clan is tested as to who to trust and how prior relationships are ever evolving to work for the greater good.
So, Dom gets himself into a pickle and is now forced to work against his family while the family works to find out what the reason was for his betrayal. This all at the same time trying to defeat Cipher and her cronies. Now, is this film going to win any Best Picture nominations? Definitely not! Was it enjoyable? Slightly… maybe! We’ve come to expect a certain amount of destruction and action from these films over the years, especially after the production companies made the decision to ditch the “all street racing” aspect to a more generic action, shooter style of film. Which makes sense, as the market for the action film is much larger and by incorporating both racing and action, you broaden your audience. That was none too apparent than from the box office numbers of this weekend.
I will always contend that just because a film does great at the box office doesn’t necessarily mean that its the greatest movie ever. However, I’ve always had admiration for the longevity of this series and from a purely masculine point of view have had a certain enjoyment whenever I’ve watched these films. They are shot nicely, in terms of the racing scenes early on but also the action sequences which are quite nicely done, albeit with an immense amount of “hoo-rah” and explosions.
Fast 8 however, is one of the more weaker films of the series so far especially coming off a poignant and emotional film in Fast 7. The opening sequence in Cuba was very well done, harking back on the first few films with the great cinematography that accompanied the racing sequences. However, afterward, the pacing really slows down and the film is slightly boring until we hit the climax where we end off with our cliché action genre end to the film. What lingers throughout, is that 70’s cheesy action feel to the film and the motivations of the antagonists which feel very odd and out of place for a film being released in 2017.
All in all, an enjoyable film? Sure, why not. However, it isn’t one that you’ll be going back to watching again. For one because it just doesn’t have that repeat viewing caché but also that Fast 9 will be out in two years time and will probably be much of the same as we’ve just seen.
The Film Lawyers, present The Fate of the Furious with a grade of C (6.2/10).