By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
The Fate of the Furious is the latest instalment in the Fast and Furious franchise and the film picks up post Furious 7 where Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) has set up home in Cuba as the team had gone their separate ways to lead out their lives in freedom. The first few scenes are a throwback to the earlier Fast and Furious films where Dominic Torreto is involved in a street race where he shows up his racing skills in fitting an old automobile with new engines and fixtures to outrun his rival.
However, as I set through the film, I realised that the Fast and Furious franchise was rapidly losing steam in terms of keeping the storyline and character development afloat. We are introduced to a new antagonist in the film, Cipher (Charlize Theron) who is a cyber terrorist who brainwashes Dominic into going rogue to betray his team. The characterisation of Cipher seems to be taken straight from the video game, Watch Dogs, where players are able to hack into anything that possesses technological capabilities. I felt that Cipher though posed a significant threat did not play a huge enough threat for the team. Though, she had leverage on Dominic early on in the film because of yes, Dominic has a son.
Family is the central theme of this film and though I did not have a problem with that, I felt that the formula was over-used since we already had that happening in Furious 7. Though the film was underperforming, there were a few memorable scenes where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) makes a return and is tasked to work with the team which is led by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). The conversations of hate and loathe that the both of them have for each other is funny and manages to get the audience laughing. Bringing in the funny is also the banter between Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris Bridges/ Ludacris) which leaves the audience roaring with laughter.
There are also noticeable Easter eggs within the film that connects the past films together. We see the reintroduction of God’s Eye, a sophisticated tracking system and an image of antagonist Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) who perished in the events of Furious 7. There are mentions of Brian O’Conner and Mia but the biggest allusion to the character of Brian O’Connor is that Dominic’s son is named Brian as the film ends. It is a bittersweet notion of remembering Paul Walker who played Brian O’Connor.
Deckard Shaw is reunited with his brother, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and their Mother Magdalene Shaw (Helen Mirren). The only issue that I had with these two characters were that they did not interact very much with the main cast which I felt they were utilized inefficiently as they were not given enough screen time. However the expertise and fighting skills that Deckard Shaw brings to the team makes him a nice inclusion to the Fast and Furious team.
I do not think that The Fate of the Furious would top the success that Furious 7 had, but it still manages to move along on its own. The team even manages to outrun a nuclear submarine with some action scenes that will leave fans on the edge of their seat. Brian Tyler does an amazing work of arranging the score of the film so that it amplifies the scenes in the film.
Though the film does not have an after credit nor mid credit scene, I am sure that there are plans for the Fast and Furious franchise to continue. The reason is that Cipher is not dead and it would be interesting to see if the Shaw family would still be assisting Dominic’s team. I can tell that the film is suffering from the effects of not taking the aspect of realism seriously and it is showing some burnout in terms of keeping the plot fresh. I hope to bring in the old formula of good old fashion street racing into more scenes of the next film, if there is a next one. Director F. Gary Gray would need to think of a fresh angle to sustain the audience’s interest and as a show of appreciation to the film’s strong fan base since the Fast and Furious film. Great to see the team back together again and it is a film that every loyal fan should see!
Tej Parker: They’re still on us.
Roman Pearce: These guys are taking this personal!
Letty ‘Ortiz’ Toretto: You were only supposed to create a diversion, Roman!
Tej Parker: That was complete destruction.
Roman Pearce: What do you want from me! I’m Roman Pearce, man! It’s what I do!
Dominic Toretto: Phase 2!
Roman Pearce: Phase 2? What’s phase 2?
Tej Parker: Bombs away.
[Tej releases the heavy steel wrecking ball which crashes into the cars chasing them]
Roman Pearce: Holy shit!