The Fate of the Furious thrills, as it builds on the very same themes that have ushered fans through the last 16 years. Read our 4 STAR film review.
The Fate of the Furious, starring Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, and Michelle Rodriguez
4 out of 5 stars
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a huge fan of The Fast and the Furious franchise since the first film. Some of my best memories from high school include seeing the first movie in theaters in 2001 and then having pizza/movie nights with my besties to celebrate the end of Senior Year. And all these years later, I’m still hooked on the drama and fast, fast cars.
With Furious 7, as we said goodbye to Brian O’Conner (RIP Paul), I was definitely curious about how the series could continue.
Well, The Fate of the Furious builds on the very same themes that have ushered fans through the last 16 years: the essentiality of family, the thin and fluctuating line between good guys and bad guys, and the sexiest, speediest cars.
The Fate and the Furious begins with Dom and Letty celebrating their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. Of course, they check out the local car scene, and find a lot of beauty and resilience in the fundamental Cuban spirit. Things take a turn when Dom’s cousin Fernando (a Cuban resident) gets into trouble with Raldo, loan shark. Fernando is unable to pay Raldo back, so Raldo has come to seize his car, a massive hunk of junk. Dom intervenes and makes a proposal: if he can beat Raldo in a race, the Cuban Mile, the debt is forgiven and Dom gets Raldo’s car, the fastest on the island. What’s more interesting is that Dom is driving his cousin’s clunker!
The race is everything we love about Fast & Furious, two cars speeding through Havana, traffic, pedestrians, buildings be damned! Despite Raldo’s attempt to cheat and Fernando’s car lighting on fire, Dom wins! Raldo is impressed and the two part ways, with Dom letting him keep his car as a gesture of goodwill. Presumably a day or two later, Dom is walking on an errand and comes across an American woman who’s having car trouble. When Dom stops to help, he quickly realizes something is off… this lady is actually Cipher, international criminal and super-villain. She needs Dom to work for her and convinces him to do so by showing him something on a cellphone…
…and a little while later when Dom, Letty, Hobbs, and the team are in Germany to protect an electromagnetic pulse machine (capable to taking out a city’s entire electrical grid), Dom completely turns on them and takes the EMP for Cipher.
What follows is an international cat-and-mouse chase, that takes us to places like NYC and Russia. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) bring Letty, Tej, Roman, Ramsey, Hobbs, and even Deckard Shaw together to stop Dom. Why is he working with Cipher? Why steal an EMP machine, nuclear football, and Russian nukes? What about family? What about Letty?
Part of what makes this film so compelling is that we quickly learn that Dom decides to do Cipher’s bidding BECAUSE of family. What does Cipher show him on that cell phone? Elena. Yes, Elena is being held hostage along with a child, her son WITH DOM. He’s willing to move heaven and earth in order to protect them, even if it means going up against Letty and his old team. But how can he choose? We see this stalemate in one of the more tense moments of the film in NYC (after Cipher has hacked into hundreds of cars, taken control and crashed them, and Dom literally demolishes Letty and co.’s attempt to hold him).
When Dom and Letty come face-to-face, he can’t kill her. It’s only when Cipher’s associate, Rhodes (Kristofer Hivju, OHITHERE Tormund Giantsbane!), intervenes that the Dom-Letty stalemate ends. And even then, Dom threatens to kill Rhodes if harms Letty. Unfortunately, that consideration for his wife costs Elena her life in retribution. The scene is completely shocking and heartrending. How can Dom get away from this crazy lady, especially since Cipher has been (secretly) part of this world since events triggered by the end of Fast & Furious (4).
Interestingly, again, Dom appeals to family and gets help from the Shaws! The interactions between Deckard, his mother (Helen Mirren), and Owen are sweet and very funny! But, for me, the most adorbs moments occur when Deckard and Owen infiltrate Cipher’s plane to save Dom’s son. What follows are some of the cutest grown-up/baby moments. I could watch a whole two hours of Statham plus baby!
In any event, once Dom knows his son is safe, he’s able to return to his team, now in Russia, and help them prevent Cipher from stealing a submarine and nuclear weapons. The stunts are incredible and death-defying… as in no one could ever, EVER really survive those explosions and collisions. Yet, we suspend our disbelief and it’s SO entertaining! The most OMG moment, for me, is when Dom tricks a heat-seeking missile into hitting the submarine. Dom leaps out of his car that’s now caught in the fire from the explosion. The blowouts continue, and just when Dom is about to be consumed by the backfire, the team surrounds him with their cars, sheltering Dom from the blast. HOLY MOLY. FAMILY.
As the film ends, Dom is reunited with his loved ones, which now includes a new member, his son who he names Brian *CRIES*
Even with the drama and violence, The Fate of the Furious has hilarious moments from all characters. We have Roman’s self-centered antics, Tej’s clapbacks, and even Hobbs gets funny (coaching his daughter’s soccer team + Haka dance = major LOLs).
I think my biggest critique is the fallout from Elena’s death. She gives her life so that her son may live…it’s completely heartbreaking. But truth be told, as soon as we find out she has a son with Dom, I know Elena will die. As a plot device, Elena’s sacrifice allows Dom and Letty to seamlessly bring baby Brian into their world. And it feels particularly cruel to use the Elena character in this way.
With that said, Elena’s murder is avenged and we have full confidence that her son will be safe. So perhaps, in the end, this does honor her memory.
The Fate of the Furious is a thrilling ride from beginning to end and a very solid addition to the franchise. It does make you wonder about the future of the series. Will we follow a new generation of speed-loving psuedo-good guys via Dom’s son? What about all the talk about a spinoff featuring the Hobbs/Deckard teaming up to track down Cipher (who’s still free)?
I can’t wait to see where we go next!
Have you seen The Fate of the Furious? What did you enjoy most at the film? Share your thoughts in comments!