Now that Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman (Oscar® winner Charlize Theron) seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before.
The previous three Fast & Furious all featured an antagonist that Dominic Toretto’s crew faced off against. For their next adventure, the crew comes face to face with their own leader. This was both a great idea and a refreshing one, because these are characters I’ve grown to love and care about over the span of seven films. I wasn’t looking for just another highly trained antagonist to get taken down, and Fate doesn’t retread that same old plot. Thankfully, I found this new story to be strong enough to both warrant the film’s existence and have me believe the reasoning behind Dom’s betrayal. The Fate of the Furious is an excellent start for a new trilogy of Fast & Furious films.
By now, we should all be accustomed to what these films have to offer. Big action set pieces, funny dialogue between characters, fast cars, beautiful girls, and a certain level of heart within the story. Fate takes the action to a whole new level, without venturing into outer space. My favorite sequence involves Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) weaving through a prison riot, just beating the crap out of everyone in their way. In this sequence Hobbs is after Shaw, who’s seizing the opportunity to breakout. The intensity alone that Johnson brings make this Hobbs the best performance he’s given in this franchise. Aside from my favorite, the standout action sequence is Shaw rescuing Dom’s son from Cipher, which for myself overshadowed the climactic submarine battle. The other action set pieces involving dozens of cars wrecking New York, and the giant submarine are solid, even though they occasionally cross the line between nearly impossible and flat out ridiculous.
The main selling point of Fate is the motive behind Dom’s betrayal. What does our antagonist in Cipher (Charlize Theron) have on Dom that would make him turn on his family? Thankfully, it wasn’t the imprisonment of Mia, Brian, and their two children, as I thought going into this film. No, what Fate does instead is give Dom a son of his own, something that was foreshadowed earlier in the film. The writers brought back Elena (Elsa Patasky) as the mother of Dom’s child, taken hostage by Cipher. I found this to be totally unexpected and at the same time clever. This took the film to some dark places, while heightening the drama. As for the antagonist, Cipher is the franchise’s best, thanks to a strong onscreen presence from Theron. Cipher constantly pushes Dom to his absolute limits, tempting him to go back to his old ways. Even in the slower parts of the movie, it’s Theron who keeps the wheels turning.
Where this movie really loses its power is with its main characters, surprisingly. Over the past two films, this family has gradually shrunk with the departure of its members (Rico, Tego, Han, Gisele, Mia, Brian) and are replaced with less likeable, charismatic ones (some serviceable). Now with Dom out of the family circle, someone within the core needed to step up, and no one did. What really bothered me is how they forced in Scott Eastwood’s character, and tried to make him one of them. That attempt failed, badly. Just seeing him sit at the table with the crew in the end was upsetting. As for the comedic dialogue between characters, the jokes were not hitting. For the most part, they fell flat and were mistimed, which is unusual for this franchise. Maybe Chris Morgan had an off day or something. Thankfully, the chemistry and presence of Hobbs and Shaw onscreen together gave me some of what I’ve expected in this franchise. If we don’t see more of these two in the future, it could spell trouble for this franchise.
Overall, Fate is, by franchise standards, a good movie, and an excellent start to a new trilogy. The film takes things a bit slower than usual, by raising the drama in the story and grounding itself a bit by going back to its street racing roots. Cipher is the franchise’s best villain yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her. The motive behind Dom’s betrayal was great, and gives us an opportunity to see a different side of the character going forward. The action set pieces are all solid, with a few stand outs. Although the humor and moments between the core members of the family aren’t as strong, the scenes involving Hobbs and Shaw help make up for it. I’m excited for more Fast & Furious, and can’t wait to see this film a second time.
The Fate of the Furious gets a 7.5 out of 10