Many cinema goers presumed after Paul Walker unexpectedly passed away in 2013, the end of the Fast & The Furious franchise had occurred too.
According to Vin Diesel*, "Paul guaranteed Furious 8 would be made." The movies have collectively taken in almost four billion dollars globally*, (not including the latest instalment) so it was always on the cards to continue. *Source IMDB.
The popularity of the movies is simple; put together a multi-ethnicity cast, strong female leads, fast cars, big explosions, a rocking soundtrack, don't take anything too seriously and you have a winning combination.
The Fate of the Furious is movie #8 in the franchise and the title is a dig at what everyone was thinking - what now?
For fans, this movie sticks to the core formula, ticking off the usual scenes - The street races, beautiful locations, the silly one-liners, the explosive scenes bigger than the previous movie, and a growing list of A-list actors with Oscar Winners, Helen Mirren (The Queen, Red) and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) joining the franchise.
The Plot The movie opens to colourful, classic cars in Cuba, where Dom and Letty are honeymooning. In Fast & Furious style, Dom soon finds himself narrowly winning a street race through cobbled laneways with respect earned and all seems well. There's even talk of Dom and Letty starting a family of their own.
Cipher (Charlize Theron) who is an international cyber terrorist, mysteriously appears in Cuba (after supposedly tracking Dom for some time) and after showing him a video, convinces him to turn against his family, aka the Furious team and work as her henchmen instead; helping in her efforts to steal a nuclear warhead from the Russians and cause a global catastrophe.
It doesn't take long for the action to start and the team (Hobbs, Letty, Roman, Parker and Ramsey) now has Deckard on their side after Mr Nobody conveniently allows him to break out of prison.
With the plan to track down Dom and to put a stop to Cipher, the film takes us street racing in New York, with an apparent homage to the breakout scene from 2Fast 2Furious, but bigger and with more cars. Before heading to icy Russia, which means customised track-wheeled cars, thick snow tyres and plenty of drifting.
Helen Mirren joins the Fate of the Furious movie. Image courtesy of official Fast & The Furious Facebook page.
Is the movie any good? Over eight movies, the Fast & The Furious crew have gone from illegal street racers, to international criminals, to now saving the world. Quite the journey.
There was just one thing missing. Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker). I know it's obvious and was to be expected but the team tried hard to show the laughter and smiles that usually fill these movies, but this time, it looked like more of a grimace. Clearly they were still grieving.
The team seemed lost, and with Dominic Toretto going rogue in this movie, they were a family missing two brothers. Roman and Parker took over some of the one-liners; which centred around both trying to pick-up Ramsay, but neither quite match the cheekiness or charming smile that Paul had.
Hobbs quickly steps up as leader of the Fast & Furious team without questioning Dom's motivations, however, it soon becomes the Hobbs & Deckard show. The on-screen banter between them is thoroughly entertaining but it lacks the brotherly love and genuine friendship that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker had.
Hobbs' favourite word seemed to be team, but the Fast & The Furious movies are about family. Sure there was a gap to be filled and putting two big name actors (Johnson & Statham) in their place seemed a logical choice, maybe after another few movies, they'll have the same real bond. But it's the family that keeps these movies popular and the fans feel like extended family, not a team.
Charlize as the antagonist, Cipher, works brilliantly. She's smart, tough and can switch from evil to powerfully sexy with the snap of her fingers. It's easy to see the control she has over Dom and Letty is genuinely threatened by her.
As for Helen Mirren playing Deckard's mum (which she is uncredited for), this was an excellent choice and explained so much about the characters, Deckard & Shaw. She's rough, looks like she's having a lot of fun in a non-serious role and has perfected the British gangster accent.
Dom's car in The Fate of the Furious. Image courtesy of official Fast & the Furious facebook page.
This movie was always going to have a tough job, but watching it, everything you hope will happen, does. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll clap and throw your arms in the air with jubilation. (Okay maybe that's just me).
Charlize Theron is the perfect baddie in The Fate of the Furious. Image courtesy of official Fast & The Furious Facebook page.
In order for the franchise to continue, this was the movie that needed to happen. Sure it was awkward at first but what F. Gary Gray has accomplished with The Fate of the Furious was move the franchise forward, as Roman says, "I wish Brian was here, he'd know what to do." Letty makes it clear, "Brian is retired from the game and we need to figure this out."
They might not have it all figured out yet, but that's okay. They're on the right track and with Vin Diesel in a producing role and guarantees for movies #9 & #10, you can be sure the Fast & Furious franchise still has plenty of grunt left under the hood.
The Fate of the Furious broke a number of records before it was even released. Image courtesy of official Fast & The Furious Facebook page.
Should I see this movie?
If you're a fan of the franchise, yes, it provides the usual entertainment, laughs and fast cars. More importantly though, it provides closure. Movie #7 was a touching tribute to Paul Walker and movie #8 allows us to move forward, without forgetting the past.
If you're not a huge fan of the franchise but would like a fast paced, funny movie with big name actors and pure entertainment, then this is also your movie. It's possible to overlook the past references and watch this in its own right.
The Fate of the Furious broke a number of records before opening including the biggest explosion ever filmed in Iceland and the first American movie filmed in Cuba since sanctions were lifted.
The Fate of the Furious is best seen at your local cinema on a big screen with surround sound and comfy seats.
The Fate of the Furious stars: Vin Diesel as Dom Jason Statham as Deckard Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Tyrese Gibson as Roman Ludacris as Tej Parker Kurt Russell as Mr Nobody Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey