The Fate of the Furious poster

The Fate of the Furious is the 8th movie in the long running Fast & The Furious series. A series that started out revolving around illegal street racing with tuned cars but ventured into James Bond territory with a group of people retrieving McGuffins all across the globe, often using a super car in the process. These movies have become very entertaining, though most people agree that the previous movie, Furious 7, would have been a good end to this series with the death of Paul Walker and all. But with a gross of more than $1,500,000,000 it would be stupid for Universal Studios to put their Golden Goose to rest. That is how we end up with yet another Fast & Furious movie and two more in the pipeline.

If you jumped onto this series from the moment it actually became good with Fast Five, you might think the opening scene is rather fresh as it features an illegal street race. I haven’t seen that in a while. The Fate of the Furious actually pays homage to it origins by showing us that Dominic Toretto still rules the streets on four wheels. After this little throwback we’re thrown straight into the action as Dominic is forced to work for a super hacker who goes by the name of Cipher and is played by Charlize Theron. He has to retrieve some objects for her so she can get control of a working nuclear arsenal. As you can tell, Cipher is a classic Bond villain; seeking world domination and what not. The only people who can stop Dom are the ones he calls his family.

That family is seemingly ever expanding. Everybody who had a notable part in the previous movies turns up again. Even the Shaw brothers, who each portrayed a villain in one of the previous two films, return for this installment. From what once was a movie with only the then relatively unknown Vin Diesel and Paul Walker as headliners has become a series featuring an ensemble cast with a couple of big names in it: Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Charlize Theron are just a few household names popping up here. And yes, with Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron added to the cast the Fast & Furious series now has Academy Award winning actresses on board.

Bigger isn’t always better as the Expendables movies have shown: a large cast means less screen time for everybody. Characters like Tej, Roman, Letty and Ramsey have little to do and are reduced to walking character traits. Roman (Gibson) screams in almost every scene while Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) gets to push some buttons when something needs to be hacked.
Even Charlize Theron has very little to do as all she does is stare at a screen and give orders from her “invisible” jet. Quite a waste from an Academy Award winning actress who was extremely bad ass in Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Fast & Furious movies were never about portraying realistic characters, though the early movies certainly were more down to earth. That changed when Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs was introduced to the audience. A man who throws other people around like they are tennis balls. Since Fast Five these movies function as live action cartoons in which gravity and other laws of nature either do not exist or are bent to accommodate the fantasies of the screenwriters. The Fate of the Furious has its own unique spectacular scenes like hundreds of remote controlled self-driving cars taking out a heavily armored limousine or a variety of exotic cars outrunning a submarine on ice. In some miraculous way they manage to make these scenes more entertaining than this year’s rather tedious xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

One thing I always love to point out in the Fast & Furious films is their use of homosexuality. Especially since this series is so popular with young men who consider themselves too macho and too masculine to watch a movie like Brokeback Mountain. They pat themselves on the back watching a movie like this full of cool cars, hot women and men they see as role models; completely oblivious to the homosexual undertones. The first few movies were full of men wanting each other, but when the series became more James Bond like they lost a lot of it. But not all.

The Fate of the Furious features a smothering romance between Johnson’s Hobbs and Statham’s Shaw. Sworn enemies in the previous movie, these two characters are now forced to work together and slowly start to like each other. They share insults, show off their pecs and eventually smile at each other. At one point it almost seemed as if they were going to kiss. I’m not the only one who apparently picks up these gay winks as Honest Trailers also points it out:

At this point these movies are strung together by over the top action scenes and so much characters you really can’t remember all of their names. While this movie is fun, it is also devoid of anything substantial. This franchise has basically become a live action cartoon. One that is really trying hard to have a reason to exist in the first place. Especially with the absence of Paul Walker. Here’s a tip: cast Scott Adkins as an opponent to Statham and/or Johnson. I would be happy to see that.

If you’re going to watch The Fate of the Furious, do as I did. Sit down, shut off your brain and enjoy the ride.