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'The Fate of the Furious': Family Broken and Remade

YouTube screenshot, the Fate of the Furious.

The Fate of the Furious (2017) pushes the Fast and Furious franchise to its limits. Brian O’Conner is gone. Dominic Toretto turns on his family. The team faces an all-powerful hacker villain. But the virtues of the series shine through, bigger and better than ever.

Fans might find it hard to believe, but the eighth movie actually bests many of the iconic scenes from Fast & Furious 6 (2013) and Furious 7 (2015). What could be more cool than the tank chase in Furious 6 or the helicopter-drop car chase in Azerbaijan in Furious 7? Just wait and see.

The Fate of the Furious is an inspiring thrill ride from start to finish — and the characters do not disappoint. The movie makes excellent use of the all-star cast, featuring (of course) Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as Luke Hobbs, and Jason Statham as Ian Shaw, and that’s just the top three! Series favorites like Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), the hilarious Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges (Tej Parker), Kurt Russell (Mr. Nobody), and Nathalie Emmanuel (Megan Ramsey) also put in solid performances.

There are three new faces, each perfectly fitting their roles. Scott Eastwood (Fury, 2014) joins the team as Mr. Nobody’s trainee, and of course Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015) makes a fantastic villain. Her sidekick, Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones, 2011-2018) brings the creepy ebullience of his role as Tormund Giantsbane into the Fast and Furious franchise, and it fits surprisingly well.

Deep personal connections drive the film, which makes for great intimate action. Twisting Dom’s devotion to family on its head, the new villain Cipher pits him against his team, using his expertise and badassery to steal some of the most valuable technology in the world.

This combination of Dom as a pseudo-villain and Cipher as a powerful hacker makes for mind-blowing violence. The trailers hint well at some of the fantastic scenes. Using upcoming technology which will allow cars to drive themselves, Cipher hacks every car in New York City, turning the metropolis into a wasteland of zombie automobiles. Cars actually fall through the sky (without parachutes this time!) as they drive outside high-rise parking garages, wrecking the streets below with well-planned carnage.

Like the other Fast and Furious films, Fate is a glut of “disaster porn,” designed to showcase epic violence without much concern for the likely victims. At the very least, two of the most explosive car chases take place outside of metropolitan areas, but the New York scene would certainly involve heavy casualties.

Despite this violence, the film has a surprising amount of depth. Some of the best personal scenes take place between Vin Diesel and Charlize Theron, as Cipher explains to Dom the insanity of his commitment to family.

“It’s a biological lie,” the villain tells the hero. She explains that natural selection, through evolution, triggered in human beings a fake attachment to family in order to prolong the species. Using this to dismiss Dom’s core commitment, Cipher urges him to take control of the moment and seize power, the only thing worth living for.

Cipher explains that she’s out to hold the countries of the world “accountable.” She aims to use technology to exercise her will over the world, a mix of “hacktivist” and terrorist. The movie’s climax delivers one refreshing surprise after another, including Dom’s final response to her temptations.

The Fate of the Furious is an excellent film not just because of the violence, the depth, and the stellar acting, however. It is also a fitting tribute to Paul Walker, who died in a freak car accident in the middle of filming Furious 7. This latest movie is the first installment of the franchise (besides Tokyo Drift, 2006) not to include Walker, and his absence was felt throughout the film. But the movie also paid a heartwarming tribute to the beloved actor, and fans will greatly appreciate it.

This movie may well be the best in the franchise. The action — mixed as always with humor and personal depth — proved fantastic, and the plot had just enough twists and turns to surprise an audience while still being believable. Fans of the Fast and Furious franchise will be very happy, and even neophytes seeing Dominic Toretto for the first time will get a huge kick out of this high-tech action thriller.

If you want to see zombie cars racing in formation, a submarine crashing through the ice, a car being literally raced to its own destruction, and a good movie with compelling characters, excellent acting, and deeper themes, I highly recommend The Fate of the Furious. It would take a concerted effort to be disappointed by this film.

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