(Photo courtesy IMDB.)
The new Fast and Furious movie, beautifully and abstractly named F8, initially rekindled some of the hype seen in the early days of the franchise. The trailers promised a shocking new twist, with the head of The Family, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), appearing to turn against his team. At first glance, it seemed like a true, cutting edge move, but what actually ended up occurring was frankly stupid, and proved these movies need to be shown a red light.
The film starts exactly like the preceding seven. We find ourselves in a colourful, vibrant, foreign city (this time Cuba), thrown into the dramatics of a high-stakes street race. Toretto narrowly defeats a shady racer, Fernando, but ends up letting him keep his car, out of respect. (Remember this shady guy, he’s important later – his inclusion ends up undermining the entire film.)
On the way back to his hotel, Toretto is stopped by a mysterious cyberterrorist, Cipher (Charlize Theron), who mysteriously knows everything about him. Mysterious. She shows him a phone, and then calmly tells him that he works for her now. We’re never shown what he sees, but for him to even consider betraying his Family, damn, it must be serious.
Cut to a Family heist intended to steal a special weapon. During the getaway, Toretto takes out friend Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), stealing the weapon away from his band of thieves and allowing Hobbes to get caught. This betrayal shatters the Family, and they recognise that their patriarch has turned against them.
Turns out it’s semi-justified disloyalty, as one would expect. Cipher has captured Toretto’s estranged lover Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky), who had absquatulated with a son he never knew he had. But here’s the thing: clearly what he was shown on that phone in Cuba was a picture of Neves, but only after the heist does he find out that he has an infant son, also held hostage by Cipher. I find it highly unlikely, nay, flat-out impossible that Toretto would betray his crew, his Family, for an ex-girlfriend … I mean, really?
Now in New York City, Toretto intentionally makes his car backfire, so that he has to pull into a back alley to fix it. A truck conveniently pulls-up blocking Cipher’s view of him through security cameras. Dom runs to a bar, meets with old series villains Owen and Deckard Shaw’s (Luke Evans, Jason Statham) mother, Magdalene (Helen Mirren), and sets up a plan behind his captor’s back. This is where the movie completely loses my respect. Remember that shady Cuban guy? Turns out he was the one driving the truck. So, get this: our hero is being held by a woman who is reputedly the most dangerous hacker in the world, someone who can see and control everything, but somehow a street racing bandit is able to contact a person in Cuba, whom he met once, and convince him to come all the way to New York City to park in a specific space, at a specific time, organise a meeting with one of the most dangerous people in the world, all without being noticed, yet he can’t contact a single member of his team? Really?
The long spool of Swiss cheese that is the plot of The Fate of The Furious ends with Hobbes being freed and retiring and Toretto getting his kid. It’s a happy moment, in stark contrast with the overall unpleasant viewing experience that led up to it.
Worst of all, the stunts were garbage.
Just end it already
But that’s just how these movies go. So much promise, so little delivery. Which begs the question: why are they still being made? The stunts and plots are being recycled, the only difference in these movies are cosmetic, like the setting and car models.
Although that’s the draw of money I suppose.
They had a golden opportunity to give the franchise a clean death three films ago. That’s when The Family pulls off their biggest-ever heist which they say ad nauseum their final job. Roll credits.
Then, the sixth installment comes.
Then the seventh. #RIPPaulWalker. This was their second-best shot at bowing-out, dignity intact. They brought back old villains, had non-stop action and a revenge plot and tied up every single loose end previously brought up. Not to mention the classic, but evidently meaningless “final heist” promise which is again made (now shattered by F8). Paul Walker, and his character Brian O’Connor, are given an emotional send-off. As far as I’m concerned, anything past this point is a necrophilic capitalisation on the newfound pop culture relevance the series found after Walker’s tragic death.
F8 is a bunch of mismatched ideas strung together by the vulnerability of fans. The Fast series has had an incredible run full of memorable moments, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Cue Wiz Khalifa.