Speed Racers Pt 8 (The Fate of the Furious, 2017)
If prizes were awarded for the most inconsistently named franchise? Pretty sure this franchise would own that. If George Lucas was involved, they would all get renamed something like Dom Toretto and the Fast and The Furious (Who care if Vin is in every film or not).
By this time, our heroes have gone from criminals to underdogs to helping the authorities. But after saving the world last time around, Dom has apparently switched sides and is helping Charlize Theron take on the world. She is an evil hacker with big plans…and so Mr. Nobody calls in The Fast and Furious team and a surprise guest…the last film’s villain (Jason Statham). Has Dom truly gone bad? Is he really turning his back on his family?
This is the first film in the franchise not directed by Justin Lin, and it definitely loses some of that cohesiveness. It feels less like a continuation and more like a flat out sequel from the…uh…sequel factory. F. Gary Gray is a strong director and has some definite “action/Car movie” cred with the 2003 remake of the Italian Job. But the story itself feels like it was conceived months after the last film was released and worked to fit their latest idea together. The previous films felt more “organic” with Lin at the helm.
I cannot pinpoint exactly why this is, as the guy who wrote this film (Chris Morgan) wrote every film since Tokyo Drift. Maybe Gray connects with the characters differently. But one thing that stands out is that there is a big plot point that comes pretty much out of nowhere as Dom’s motivations. There is no point in a prior film to see it coming. It feels purely invented for the film, like a last minute idea to solve a problem they were having.
Fate is certainly not lacking for action, though they may finally be hitting that point where it is hard to top the big set piece of the previous film. The massive race across the ice and attempts to outrun a massive submarine feel more like they cobbled together ideas from the previous film, so instead of giving us an impressive and new sequence it highlights cooler moments of past films.
While Fate of the Furious is not terrible (and not by the standards of the franchise itself, it has its moments), it does feel like the franchise is finding it harder and harder to sustain itself.