In The Fate of the Furious, Dominic Toretto races a heat-seeking missile.
Here’s a fun experiment, right before you see The Fate of the Furious in theaters (who are you kidding, of course you’re going) watch the original The Fast and the Furious, ostensibly a movie just about car racing and stolen DVD players, then think about that while Dom (Vin Diesel) is racing a heat-seeking missile. Like, how did it escalate to this? What has to happen in someone’s life to go from a person who races cars and steals DVD players to a person who has to fight a submarine with a fast car? Oh, yes, the gang also fights a submarine in The Fate of the Furious. This movie is insane. I can’t help but love these movies.
I’m definitely one of these people who has great appreciation for the more recent chapters of the Fast and Furious saga, as opposed to the movies that were about car racing. Now they are a globetrotting espionage super team. (I’m now convinced that every movie franchise, once it hits its fourth or fifth movie, should just convert into a knowingly wink-wink* movie about all its characters becoming some sort of secret espionage team. By Pitch Perfect 4, this is what the characters in that movie should be doing.)
[*I’m fairly sure they never told Vin Diesel the movies were “knowingly wink-wink” now.]
As always in the recent chapters, The Fate of the Furious opens with a car race that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the film – this time set in Havana. (I honestly think they do this so that they can at least say on paper, “See, this is still a car racing movie at heart, folks.”) But while in Cuba, Dom is approached by the notorious hacker, Cipher (Charlize Theron), who has information she uses against Dom in order to get him to turn against his team.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, who I still believe will be nominated for an Oscar someday) leads a mission in Germany to steal back a device that can cripple a large city’s power grid. On this mission, Dom betrays Luke and steals this device for Cipher. Now, the team must hunt down Dom before it’s too late – and to do this, they bring in Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a person Luke doesn’t like at all. (The banter between The Rock and Statham through most of this movie is very entertaining. Also, every villain in this series will eventually become part of the team.)
I love that no matter what ridiculous thing this team has to do, it’s still “car” based. Like, other modes of transportation might be better, but these people still use their cars because that’s what they do. There’s a scene in The Fate of the Furious in which the team is racing across a frozen lake, and of course Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) is driving a Lamborghini. This is what they do: They drive fast cars no matter what the situation is. “We need to parachute out of a plane? Well, of course we are doing that while driving our cars.”
In the next couple of movies the team is going to have to go to space. They are going to run out of earthly ways to top themselves, so they will have to go to space. Only when they go to space, there will be some crazy excuse invented as to why they all will need their cars. Mark my words: Dominic Toretto will be driving a car in space – there will even be a scene in which he flips on his nitrous, turbo thruster device at the last second to save the day. Oh, I just thought of why they need their cars in space: They need their cars because they will need them for reentry somehow. Then they will all ride their cars from the International Space Station all the way down to a highway. Then they will race.
F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton directed The Fate of the Furious, taking over for the “one and done” James Wan, who left to direct Aquaman. I suspect, someday, directing a Fast and Furious movie will be some sort of exclusive club in which the members meet every year and share horror stories. As fun as these movies are to watch, they seem like such a chore to make. Then there are the off-camera elements like the alleged feud between The Rock and Vin Diesel. (From what I’ve heard, this was a real thing and wasn’t made up for publicity; also, I don’t recall The Rock and Diesel sharing one frame during The Fate of the Furious. If you’re going to make up a feud for publicity, there’s usually a payoff. There’s no payoff here.) And then there’s what Wan had to go through with the death of Paul Walker that happened before Furious 7 was even finished.
And there is something missing from The Fate of the Furious, and that’s Paul Walker. His role had diminished a bit over the course of these movies from the bona fide “star” to an equal member of an ensemble. But even so, he felt like the glue that kind of kept all these movies together. He’s mentioned in The Fate of the Furious in passing – his character is still alive – but it’s basically a quick conversation of getting Brian involved, which they decide not to do. That part made me sad because it reminded me that this movie would be even more fun if Walker were still around.
The Fate of the Furious is not a short movie and about three-fourths of the way though it drags a little, but then the heat-seeking missiles and the submarines show and it clicks back into overdrive. (I had to do one sort of car pun. I’m sorry.) This isn’t my favorite of the series – that’s still Furious 7 (it’s hard to top those jumps from skyscraper to skyscraper, but this is a worthy entry). These movies know what they are. These movies know they are fun. These are fun movies! I had fun watching this. Fun! I mean, don’t you kind of want to see Dominic Toretto race a heat-seeking missile?
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