My hopes weren’t exactly high for the eighth installment of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. However, despite a tawdry, lackluster opening sequence that could have been inserted in any action film featuring fast cars and scantily clad women, about twenty minutes into the film the majority of the cast and director F. Gary Gray found their footing and kept it moving through the duration of the film. As a result, “The Fate of the Furious” manages to run on more than just fumes.
The explosive action film focuses on Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto who is enjoying his honeymoon with his new bride, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), in picturesque in Havana, Cuba. However, things go left when the diabolical Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up forcing our favorite outlaw to turn his back on his code and his family. Theron slays as the psychopathic icy blonde who is holding a major bombshell over Toretto’s head. She enlists him to do her bidding in capturing some nuclear warheads and the codes to set them off. Unfortunately, the ghastly choice to drape Theron in horrid limp blonde dreads was a distraction for the majority of the film, and if she wasn’t so chillingly believable, this costuming mishap could have easily propelled her into the realm of caricature.
Other highlights in the film are Academy Award winner Helen Mirren whose delicious cameo-like appearance will have you laughing out loud. Additionally are franchise late-comers Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, whose characters – Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw respectively – have some of the only backstories that run cohesively throughout the entire plot of the film. Also, their hilarious banter and iconic prison sequence are the gems that will keep audiences excited throughout. With the cumbersome overall narrative of the film, these two are the glue that holds it all together.
Speaking of a shaky narrative and the bloated cast, it’s past time for the franchise to start pairing things down. Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pierce and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’ Tej Parker are given absolutely nothing to do. The comic relief in “The Fate of the Furious” has been taken over by Johnson and Statham, so characters played by Gibson and Bridges have been reduced to corny exclamations, and what seemed like a paragraph worth of dialogue between them. The cast is quite robust without trying to make room for every single person that ever touched the franchise. Therefore, if Roman and Tej are going to continue on; I hope the screenwriters make them more than living, breathing relics of past films.
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