If ever there was a franchise at a cross roads, it is The Fast and Furious. The untimely death of Paul Walker certainly changed the direction of things and certainly the feel. The Fate of The Furious will be the first time the team we have grown to love will operate without Paul Walker's Brian O'Connor and Jordana Brewster's Mia Toretto. The franchise has lost one of it's biggest stars, it's now eight films deep, and needs to reinvent itself again. So is there still gas in the tank?
Brian and Mia have retired. The rest of the team is doing their thing and living a normal life. Luke Hobbs is coaching his little girl's soccer team and Dom and Letty are honeymooning in Cuba. Things are quiet for our heroes until a dangerous new foe recruits Dom. The team comes together again to not only take down this latest threat, but to take down their leader. In order to make that happen, they unite with past enemies to try and save their friend.
F. Gary Gray from "Straight Out Of Compton," fame takes over the directing duties. He follows the globe trotting tradition of his predecessors. Fate of the Furious has big movie feel. We go from Cuba to Berlin, New York, and Russia. The stunts are as outlandish as one might expect and it doesn't feel like there is much down time. It's a big cast and none of them feel lost in the story. Action and humor are done well. The most important thing is the story and it completely works. The New York car stuff is incredible.
Charlize Theron is perfectly cast as "Cipher." She is cold, ruthless, and the perfect villain to advance this arc of the story. She matches well with the team and comes across very lethal. She is more than a match for Dom. Her hold over him is explained and fits extremely well into the dynamic of the previous stories. The twist is unexpected and is the perfect way to go.
The elephant in the room is of course, Paul Walker. In some ways, he feels more apart of this movie than the last one. He is acknowledged in the right ways and his presence is clearly felt. Based on the way Fate plays out, his footprint will be there in future films as well.
Tyrese is always the comic relief, but it is the Rock and Jason Statham who steal the show. The chemistry between them is off the charts. They both balance ass kicking with the perfect amount of comedy.
Fate of the Furious is one of the best in the franchise. Yes the team is showing their age, some of the jokes are the same, and the stunts are outlandish. It is everything you would expect from a Fast and Furious movie. The movie proves we still love this cast and their globe trotting adventures. The old cast is great and the new additions fit in well. If the franchise is serious about getting to ten films, it seems like there is still plenty of gas in the tank.