article by Connor Behrens for ArtsEarth
Director F. Gary Gray’s latest film, “The Fate of the Furious”, is an American action film that serves as the eighth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise.
“The Fate of the Furious” tells the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who becomes seduced by a mysterious cyberterrorist (Charlize Theron). Forced to betray his team of close friends, the group embarks on an international journey that will test them to their limits like never before.
“The Fast and the Furious” series has traveled on a bumpy road. The franchise truly did not reach peak potential until 2011’s “Fast Five,” where the franchise decided to embrace its campy premise and deliver audiences unbelievable car sequences and international locations. This continued with both “Furious 6” and “Furious 7.” And while the latest film in the series is enjoyable… there might not be much gas left in the tank.
“The Fate of the Furious” ups the ante in car stunts, set locations and explosive blasts. And while seeing Dwayne Johnson maneuver a torpedo is stupidly captivating, the film feels standard at times. The franchise has lost sight of what it once was. Gone are the days where the films were solely focused on family and racing cars in the streets of Los Angeles.
Make no mistake: the eighth film delivers campy goodness, and the film doesn’t try to be something it’s not (the series jumped the shark and is now riding that shark). But what’s the purpose at this point? There are explosions, car chases, machine guns, torpedoes, etc. The franchise has just become James Bond with cars.
And yet, the film is still a blast of fun and it succeeds due to the star-studded cast. This is mostly due to the rapport that the cast shares with one another. Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris – the entire cast bounces off each other and it creates a special dynamic that no other franchise currently has. By the way, Theron’s character is such a ruthless hacker. Her cold and calculating scenes with Diesel are magnetic. The cast saves the film from being just another blockbuster juggernaut.
Yes, the series has become all about set pieces and ridiculously impossible stunts. However, the film does try to somewhat hang onto its emotional core of family and togetherness. The connection that Diesel shares with Rodriguez is still convincing; the lovable banter that Jason Statham and Johnson partake in is hilarious.
That’s why audiences return to this series with each installment. The spectacle is understandably engaging, but the true selling power is within the film’s commentary on family. Audiences can’t relate to the impractical action pieces, but they can relate to the characters themselves.
Overall, “The Fate of the Furious” gives fans of the series what they want: explosions, fast cars, and most importantly, The Rock pushing torpedoes into nearby vehicles. But while the film is a high-octane ride, this franchise is almost out of gas.