When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.
The first four entries in the Fast & Furious franchise did nothing to grab my attention. It wasn’t until “Fast Five” that I sat up and took notice. I felt the previous installments took themselves way too seriously but with part 5, it veered off into, at times, cheesy James Bond territory and had the audacity to actually work. The characters were able to let loose and with each subsequent entry, the story and the action have gotten bigger and crazier. And that’s okay by me because it’s movies like this that make me want to go to the theater. The Oscar contenders that hit at the end of every year are fine for what they are but I go to the cinema to escape real life, not to sit there for two hours to watch someone die of cancer, or survive war, or deal with a family member or friend who has succumbed to alcohol or drug addiction. Summer is my favorite time of year because the studios inundate us with movies that are loud, brash, and spectacular and that is exactly what “The Fate Of The Furious” delivers.
If you’ve been keeping up with the series as a whole, then you’ll know that with each film, the stakes are higher and the action is bigger and far exceeds the previous installment and this is no different. Since the events that transpired in “Furious 7,” the team are enjoying their retirement. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are vacationing in Cuba when Dom comes across a beautiful woman who is having car trouble. He offers to help but when she hands him a cell phone with a photo on it, everything he knows is about to change. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is taking some much-needed time off to spend with his daughter when he is called back into action by his agency and informed that an EMP bomb that is stationed in Germany, is about to be robbed. He calls on Dom for help and he assembles his team and they manage to steal the bomb ahead of time, with the intent of bringing it back to the U.S. for safekeeping but along the way, Dom railroads Hobbs, takes the bomb for himself, and disappears into the night. Hobbs is arrested and put in prison where he meets Deckard (Jason Statham), the main villain from “Furious 7” and just as they are about to pound each other into the floor, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) turns up and informs them, and the rest of the gang, that they will all be working together in order to try and find Dom.
The film traverses the globe from Cuba to Germany, and New York to Russia, as Dom and Cipher (Charlize Theron), the mysterious woman he met in Cuba, manage to stay one foot ahead of them the whole time. Everyone becomes more and more frustrated at Dom’s betrayal, especially considering that he has always preached about the importance of family but Letty tells them that Cipher must have something on him as he would never turn his back on them. After taking the EMP bomb, and then a nuclear football in New York City, Letty and the team quickly comprehend that the next objective, is a nuclear submarine stationed in Russia. With the realization that Cipher obviously intends to launch a nuclear attack, they must get to the frozen location ahead of Dom, and try to figure out exactly what is going on, before it is too late.
With the tragic and untimely passing of star Paul Walker in 2013, “Furious 7” had to undergo tremendous reshoots to change the story to accommodate this, with the studio even employing Walker’s brothers, who looked so much like him that they were able to insert them into wide shots and using digital technology, insert Mr. Walker’s face over them. “The Fate of the Furious” is the first entry in the series since Tokyo Drift to not have Paul Walker appear and it is an element that is very sadly missing. Walker’s Brian O’Conner brought balance to the team, he and Dominic Toretto shared a friendly rivalry but underneath it all, and throughout all the movies, they became like brothers. It’s very fitting that the new film takes the course it does, with Dom distancing himself from everyone he loves because with Walker’s Brian O’Conner character now permanently retired with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their two kids, Dom doesn’t have that element of stability that Walker brought to the story. Charlize Theron spends most of her time behind a computer screen, talking to Dom via headset but she steals every scene she appears in. The Fast & Furious franchise has always managed to land A-list names and joining our cast of regulars is the aforementioned Ms. Theron, along with Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, and a lovely cameo by Helen Mirren.
Director F. Gary Gray, best known for “Friday,” “The Italian Job,” and “Straight Outta Compton,” delivers another worthy installment in a franchise that seems to only gain momentum with every new addition. The story never takes itself too seriously and with the emphasis even stronger on family, after Paul Walker’s passing, you find yourself always rooting for the protagonists. The action is fast and furious, pun intended, and often surprises with unexpected aplomb, the role reversal of good guys into bad and vice versa. Faces from earlier films appear and by the end of the movie, one can only imagine where Dom and his team will go from here.
Available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand July 11th