July 9, 2017


Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivju, Kurt Russell, Elsa Pataky Helen Mirren. Directed by F. Gary Gray. (2017, 136 min).

There's a scene in The Fate of the Furious where cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) is trying to steal a nuclear football from some Russians traveling through New York. She hacks the computers of nearby cars, allowing her to control them from safety of her high-tech jet. Within minutes, thousands of driverless vehicles are giving chase, blocking the streets and literally falling from the sky...a veritable orgy of fiery destruction and twisted metal.

It's the quiet, understated moments we love about the franchise.

The aforementioned slice of hardcore motorporn isn't even the movie's climax, which is even more bombastic and audacious. This ultimately raises a question: Where can they go from here?

A quiet moment in The Fate of the Furious.
The Fate of the Furious is, of course, the eighth film in the long-running franchise, which shows no signs of slowing down  - or scaling back - anytime soon. Each film has steadily gotten bigger, longer & louder, evolving from a relatively straightforward depiction of super-cool street racers to an ever-growing cast - or 'family' - being recruited to save the world. It seems like half of the Screen Actors Guild shows up in this one. Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron and, in an amusing cameo, Helen Mirren (!) join the already ginormous cast, and there's still room for a subtle shout-out to the departed Paul Walker.

The numerous action sequences are so big and over-the-top they make the skyscraper jump in Furious 7 look like a Sunday drive. You haven't lived until you've seen Jason Statham swoop into a moving plane strapped to a winged jetpack, Dwayne Johnson shrug-off multiple hits from rubber bullets (without so much as flinching) and Vin Diesel square-off against a nuclear submarine...with his car.

Really, the next logical step for the franchise would be to resurrect Steve McQueen, put him back behind the wheel of his Mustang and send the entire crew into space to battle aliens.

Lords of the Dance.
As usual, you'll scarcely believe a minute of it, but unlike, say, the Transformers series, the Fast and Furious films have actually become a lot more fun with each subsequent entry (speaking as someone who absolutely hated the original). This is because, even though they're essentially cartoons, these characters have grown on us over the years (including the bad guys, who nearly always end up as part of the team). So when Dominic Toretto suddenly 'goes rogue' at the behest of Cipher, we're actually invested in what could have caused him to turn on his friends. Oh, I'm sorry...family. That word is tossed around a lot in this film, and plotwise, takes on a new level of importance.

I don't know how much bigger these films can get, and maybe The Fate of the Furious will be the nadir of the series (how can you possibly top zombie cars?). I certainly hope not, because even though I still hold the early films in low regard, I've truly enjoyed the last few and look forward to the next one. If nothing else, just to see if Toretto & company are able to time travel...or fold space...or touch God. Until then, this one will be well worth seeing more than once because it's entertaining as hell.

NOTE: The Extended Unrated Edition included with this release is a digital copy. 

"The Cuban Spirit" - On location with cast & crew members;
"Car Culture" - 3-part feature focusing on some of the vehicles, including the massive 'zombie car' sequence;
"All About the Stunts" - Title tells all;
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Director F. Gary Gray
EXTENDED EDITION (Digital Copy Only - not previewed)

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