Who would have thought that the #fastandfurious franchise would have lasted this long? Yet here we are with #fateofthefurious marking the eighth entry in the fuel injected series and the first film to be made after the tragic passing of #paulwalker. Many wonder how the film would be with the absence of Brian; the family dynamic being such a huge point of these films that there were those who were unsure about going forward without him and thought the touching ending of Furious 7 was where the series should have ended. Rest easy though, this old ride still has plenty of mileage left in her.
I'm gonna be honest with you-I wasn't a big fan of Furious 7. To me, it's the second weakest film in the franchise so I was a bit worried about this one going in. Turns out, I had nothing to fear, Fate is awesome! It's the most "James Bond" the series has been, abandoning the heist formula of the last few films to go full "save the world" this time around. From who you might ask? From the evil mastermind Cipher, played here with cold efficiency by Charlize Theron. Cipher is without a doubt, the best villain the Fast series has had. She has a lasting impact on the plot, is menacing, cruel and calculating. Unlike most villains, she actually makes good on her threats, which was a welcome surprise.
The big draw in this film as we know is that Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto has gone rogue. I initially thought he was going to be undercover for Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody at first but when the reasoning was revealed, I have to admit I didn't see it coming and it made complete sense for the plot while also giving us some of the best character moments in the franchise. I then in turn was sold on Dom betraying his family, which was a great and refreshing change for the franchise.
Taking up the mantle for Brian is Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs, who is very much the co-lead of this film and he fully commits to the film, offering action, charm, wit and one liners for days. His constant verbal fights with Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw are some of the best moments in the film. The usual suspects also all return, including Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese, Nathaniel Emmanuel and Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves.
For the most part, the action delivers, from the awesome jailbreak scene to the nuclear sub finale. However, I found the New York action scene to be anti-climatic, empty and unthrilling, with Cipher hacking hundreds, if not thousands of cars to swarm in and attack. It felt disconnected and even for a series as preposterous as this one, unrealistic. The film had a few other minor hiccups along the way, from Scott Eastwood's character to glancing over Shaw's murder of Han but overall, this is one helluva fun film and fans of the series should have a great time watching it.