The Fate of the Furious Review
Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel star in director F. Gary Gray’s action thriller, ‘The Fate of the Furious.’
Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Title: The Fate of the Furious

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham,Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell and Charlize Theron

Honoring and protecting family in the most daring and unexpected ways, particularly during dangerous situations, has always been the most captivating theme of the high-octane ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise. The latest installment in the series, ‘The Fate of the Furious,’ proves to be no different, as even the seemingly biggest betrayals hint at being driven by a sense of loyalty and respect. The action-thriller, which was directed by franchise newcomer F. Gary Gray and is set to be released in theaters on Friday by Universal Pictures, shows that no matter matter how long connections have been solidified, continuously proving that they can never be broken is an essential part of life.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ opens in Havana, where Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his new wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), are enjoying their honeymoon. Unable to pass up on an intense street race, Dom agrees to take a debt for his cousin, and honors his old-school racing skills that were prominent in the 2001 franchise launcher, ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ After gaining the respect of his opponent through his clever use of a nitrous-oxide canister in his cousin’s car, Dom and Letty’s tranquil existence is soon interrupted again with an unexpected visitor.

Dom is enticed to betray the loyalty to his family, the one thing he holds most dear, by the motivated hacker, Cipher (Charlize Theron). The cunning Cipher threatens Dom with a secretive image on her cell phone the first time they meet, which leads him to reluctantly agree to help her achieve her dreams of global cyber domination.

The chance for Dom to switch alliances occurs when DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) asks Dom and their old team, including Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), to capture a very powerful EMP device from criminals in Berlin. Dom leaves Luke to take the blame for orchestrating the covert mission, and the lawman is sent to the same prison as the group’s nemesis from ‘Furious 7,’ Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).

Luke is still intent on eventually taking down his enemy once and for all, even if he’s forced to do so in prison. However, the DDS agent eventually agrees to allow Deckard join the team when Frank Petty, the leader of a covert ops team who’s known as Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), and his new associate, Eric Reisner, who’s nicknamed Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), offer the team a chance to capture Dom and stop Cipher’s plan of world domination.

After the memorably sentimental tribute to Paul Walker’s career-defining role in the previous installment, and heartfelt nostalgia that grippingly took a hold over the first entry in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise not to feature the actor since his passing in 2013, Gray enthralling made sure that ‘The Fate of the Furious’ still honored the series’ important message of the importance of family. Informed by Dom and his team’s continued need to cherish family, no matter what challenging obstacles they face, the crime thriller’s writer, Chris Morgan, who has scribed every sequel in the series since the second follow-up, 2006’s ‘Tokyo Drift,’ once again sentimentally focused on the endearing bond that helps keep the characters connected through any tragedy.

While the seventh sequel in the endlessly charged action series offers another powerful and enthralling glimpse into Dom and his team’s captivating sense of loyalty, it also mixes even more accelerated and daring stunts with amped up humor. Whether Cipher is activating the chips in cars that allow them to drive themselves throughout Manhattan in her pursuit of stopping a Russian official, or Luke redirecting a torpedo with his bare hands while driving across the ice in a speeding army tank, the stunt coordinators on ‘The Fate of the Furious’ cleverly knew how to once again defy the laws of physics. The stunt team created sequences that perfectly hold up the franchise’s signature action moments that helped highlight that no matter what situations they’re placed in, Dom’s team would do whatever it takes to keep their family together.

Even as Letty ponders the strength of her marriage to Dom, and their teams questions why he would seemingly betray the very family he has fought to maintain throughout each installment, their sentimentality is alluringly balanced with an increasingly quirky sense of humor. While the comedy was rightfully toned down a bit during the more emotionally driven moments of ‘Furious 7’ that honored Walker and his character of Brian, ‘The Fate of the Furious’ enthrallingly raised the stakes of the banter between the characters once again. From Roman and Tej amplifying their playful teasing of each other and their antics that helped solidify the heart and soul of ‘Fast Five‘ and ‘Fast & Furious 6,’ to Luke and Deckard trying to best each other in their physical strengths, the eighth installment of the action franchise intriguingly used humor to help showcase that the characters will also be connected, no matter what conflicts they’re forced to overcome.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ definitely faced the challenge of continuing the action thriller series’ story, which focuses heavily on the importance of the bond of family, following Walker’s untimely and tragic death. The gifted actor naturally embodied the franchise’s message of honoring his bonds with his co-stars, who he considered friends and family since he was first cast in the original film. While the series will never be the same without the performer, Gray and Morgan, along with the rest of the crew and cast, sentimentally honored Walker’s legacy, while also smartly developing the next chapter of the series. With the help of the enthralling stunts and memorable banter, the seventh sequel both immortalized the franchise’s tradition, and advanced it to the next level.

Technical: A-

Acting: B

Story: B

Overall: B+

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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