Massive spoiler alert: If like me, you like to be radio silent before watching the latest installment of the greatest 10-episode cinematic masterpiece ever made or ever to be made, don’t read this.
However, if you have seen it, read on. Mostly this blog is catharsis.
While The Fate of the Furious (#8) is nowhere near as bad as Tokyo Drift (#3), it’s a big, big speed bump after the height reached by “Furious 7”. Buckle your seat belts, you’re strapped in for 136 minutes of poorly planned roads, turns that make no senses, and you’re definitely not going to end up where you hoped you would.
In every Fast installment, there are ridiculous (impossible) stunts, steely eyed one-liners that you can only hope to chuckle at, and the abuse of comic relief. But things generally hold together. Fast 8 generally falls apart.
There are four serious, serious problems with Fast 8.
Letty and Dom
From the first movie, their relationship created a tension – a strong woman loved by a strong man where both seemed unable to be captured by anyone, except each other. When Letty is thought to have died in episode 4, Dom is tortured. When she returns and does not remember their relationship, even their marriage, Dom is again tortured. The silver cross necklace is the emblem of their relationship, their marriage.
In Fast 8, they pull Dom’s fling from Letty’s “presumed dead” period out of the woodwork, give her a kid from Dom. Dom bails on all his friends and Letty to save this woman, even leaves his silver cross with them.
Then at the end, when everyone understands why Dom betrayed them, let a terrorist manipulate him, and prove that the ends do justify the means, Letty takes him back in less than a 10-second quarter-mile. Letty is tough – one of the drivers in the crew, not just Dom’s missus. In Fast 8 they turn her into someone without backbone or character.
Dom: “Oh, hey, so while I thought you were dead, I slept with this woman and turns out she had a kid and didn’t tell me until both of them were kidnapped in a space age AWAX-like airplane. To make things less complicated, she’s dead. But the kid is alive.”
Letty: “That’s cool. I’ll totally treat him like my own. Let’s have an outdoor meal to end the movie.”
There is no question to me that the worst part of The Fate of the Furious is how they spat upon everything interesting and meaty in the relationship between Letty and Dom.
Villian turned comedy sidekick
Deckard Shaw was an awesome villain in Furious 7. Seemingly unbeatable at times, slippery and uncatchable, inhumane and willing to kill anyone in his way.
The idea that he joins forces with the Furious, and that Hobbs comes to respect him is a slap in the face.
Hobbs: “Oh hey you murdered a ton of people just trying to visit your brother in the hospital, you killed a ton of guys stealing God’s Eye to give it to a warlord, but you did some good things when you were in the military so it’s all good.”
Aaaaaarrrgggh. I can suspend disbelief on mountainside semi trailer oil tanker flips. I can suspend disbelief on jumping a car from skyscraper to skyscraper. I can suspend disbelief on cars holding down a military transport aircraft. I can’t suspend disbelief on a character you’ve built up that now you’re going to empty.
The third flaw is the paper-thin villain of Cipher. The wardrobe, look, acting, and cinematography around Cipher (Charlize Theron) reminded me of the bad guys in “V”, the horrendous yet addictive Sci-Fi miniseries of the early 80s. The bad aliens devoured live animals, and they would always do these slow close-ups where someone is lowering a live mouse into their mouth as the dramatic music built up, far too slowly to actually be scary or terrifying, but mostly ridiculous.
That’s how every scene with “Cipher” feels.
The over indulgence of hacking tech also surrounds her and the crap plot elements that Cipher brings with her. Honestly it’s possible that #45 might have been a script consultant – “more Cyber!”
I won’t spent time on this, because it’s just not worth it. It’s rubbish. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! Meaningless car race in Cuba? Some random new relative. Then the dude you beat appears later on the other side of the world to help out to some how tie this plot thread together? Yes, we did get the important car race, our required quota of Hello-Kitty-Ass, and Dom doing the impossible. But, it had no relationship to the plot whatsoever.
What was good
- Stunts were great – Submarine ice chase was great. Zombie car chase in NYC was pretty awesome.
- The Deckard Shaw + baby carrier fight scene is action-film genious. The choreography plus cinematography – exceptional.
- Lucas Black (who plays the Gomer-Pyle-esque Sean Boswell) did not appear in this film. That was great.
- Roman was great. He’s always great.
- Lastly, I will tip my hat to having Brian’s name live on in the series, even though it’s as a result of a horrible plot device. Paul Walker, RIP. You deserved better than this film.
Overall did I enjoy Fast 8? Of course. I loved it. But I loved it a lot less than all the others (except for Tokyo Drift which I pretend never happened).
One more thing
The other CIA agent (Client Eastwood’s son) – it’s obvious he’ll be a character in future movies. Please don’t. I’m not going to mention his character’s name because I don’t ever want to hear it again.