2 out of 5 stars
It's not how you stand by your car, it's how you race it.
The longevity of The Fast and the Furious franchise is mind-boggling. It will be the study of studios and film classes for years to come trying to figure out the formula and chemistry that has made this series become the Hollywood behemoth that has taken the world by storm. To have the eighth instalment be appealing enough to get an award-winning director and Academy Award-winning acting talent cause more head spins that many of the car stunts in the film.
The leader of the pack of renegade street racers has finally tried to settle down, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) tie the knot and are celebrating their honeymoon in Cuba. Trying to find a life far away from the street adventures of their past, but their history finds them in Havanna. A secretive organisation that is fronted by the enigmatic Cipher (Charlize Theron) wants to recruit Dom for his unique skill set. Even though he wants to distance himself from his past, she manages to manipulate him back into a life of high-tech crime. In the process, he has to turn his back on the team that he considers family. Letty and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) must lead the team to find out the reason behind Dom’s betrayal and to stop Cipher from getting a hold of the world’s computer and weapon’s networks. Familiar faces and new additions join the team in the race against the clock to save the world and clear the name of their friend.
Coming off of his successful docu-drama, Straight Outta Compton, director F. Gary Gary takes the wheel of this tour da force franchise. He manages to add his own touches to the story, but stays true to the formula that has proven successful for over a decade and a half. Car chases that go to a new level of bending the laws of physics or could be described as downright ridiculous, but to prove to be entertaining. The driving sequences are partnered with well-choreographed action elements that excuse the elementary-level dialogue and acting that lacks any originality. Even with Academy Award-winning actors in key roles, the acting takes a back seat to the visual effects and the action. Charlize Theron’s involvement is not a surprise in this project, since she has worked with F. Gary Gary on The Italian Job. She does lift the performances of the overall picture, but even with her outstanding role in Mad Max : Fury Road, she never quite reaches the level of a convincing villain. The best addition to this chapter of Fast and the Furious would have to be Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw. He provides the intensity and verbal skills to go toe-to-toe with Dwayne Johnson and provides a fresh comedic element.
This is the time for true confessions. My personal interest in this franchise lost any lustre after the second instalment. If it was not for the enthusiastic and passionate cinematic evangelism from trusted friends, this is a franchise would have remained one to quietly avoid. Then as we arrived at the screening and after seeing the euphoric response from the audience, it made this reviewer realise that The Fate of the Furious did deserve actual consideration. At minimum to has earned some respect for maintaining this fan base. Reminiscent of the faithful fans of James Bond, this is a series that is here to stay. It does not attempt to be something it is not, Vin Diesel and crew seem comfortable racing cars around the globe and hoping audiences are willing to come along for the ride.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- What does the Bible say about ‘family?’ (Proverbs 22:6, John 15:12-17, Ephesians 3:14-15)
- If I have wronged others, can redemption occur in this life? (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:4, 20-22)
- What can we know about the value of fathers? (Psalm 103:13, Proverbs 20:7, 3 John 1:4)