My Thoughts on The Fate of the Furious (SPOILERS)

Prologue: Work is still stupid busy: and I am running a half marathon this coming weekend that I am horribly unprepared for.  In my post from April 5th I stated that I owe posts for March 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, and April 3rd: five total.  I have posted two posts since then, and skipped another one (April 10th).  You add in a post for today, and that puts the count that puts me back at five.  This post will make it four.  Dammit.

SPOILER WARNING: Don’t read this post until after you have seen The Fate of the Furious (FF8).  I talk about some spoilery stuff here.  </end warning>

Every time a new Fast and Furious movie comes out in theaters, I offer to take my team from Green Mustard Entertainment out to see it.  That is because, somehow, the elements of the FF franchise have paralleled a number of elements in my life with my company and my team.

  • The first movie came out in 2001, the year I created Wasabi Anime.
  • The team is (and continues to be) an ever evolving group of diverse and talented folks who refer to themselves as the “Wasabi Family”.
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift pushed me further to go to Japan… something I did five years after seeing the film.  My time spent there helped expand our brand and our company.
  • The summer after Fast Five, my team orchestrated a quick and effective action with one of our events equivalent to pulling off a “heist”.  (I’m being purposely vague here.)
  • Paul Walker died within months of my own father – serving as a stark reminder of my mortality.  Furious 7 was a tough watch, but one I was happy to do with my team in a crowded theater.

Which leads us to this movie.  The parallel?  A new nemesis has appeared that has actually been around for the past few years… and said nemesis is looking to undo all the work the team has done prior.  Something similar is happening again (purposely vague) – and you know what?

I’m not worried.

Why?  I know it’s evolved into a trope at this point, but I was saying it before it was mainstream.

I don’t have friends.  I got family.

That said, let’s talk about the movie.

First off, it’s already cleaning up at the box office.  In it’s first weekend it made over $100 million in the United States, and over half a billion worldwide.  Folks (myself included) enjoy these films.

It took me explaining to someone in our group who has only seen one other film to realize the painful truth about the franchise, though: it’s a soap opera.  For real.  Pretend you’re not well versed in the franchise, and read this out loud and realize what it sounds like:

“Oh, her?  She was the love interest when Letty was gone.  You see, Letty got thrown from an explosion and everyone thought she was dead.  She showed up later working with an evil organization because she had amnesia and…”

Yup. Soap opera.

That said, the new movie IS fun – but it’s definitely flawed.  Here are the key things that stick out the most.

Paul Walker’s absence is painfully evident.  And, as a result, so is Jordana Brewster’s.  The team seems incomplete.  This is amplified by the loss of Gisele and Han, too, from when the franchise was at it’s peak: Fast Five.  Speaking of Han…

Deckard KILLED Han, but now he’s a welcome part of the “family”.  What the hell, man. I mean, I know he saved Toretto’s son, but (at most) that should grant a “we’re even” – not a “sit down and have dinner with the fam, bro!”  This bothered me.

Scott Eastwood is slowing morphing into his father.  Seriously.  In this movie he really looked a lot like him.  He was the obvious plug in to fit into the spots where Paul Walker was supposed to be, but (as a result) he was underutilized in my opinion.  Hopefully they make better use of him in the next film.

I would have liked to have seen Charlize Theron do more than type on a keyboard in this movie.  Previous movies have had strong female action scenes.  Sure, we saw Letty get into it with some pseudo-Russian bad guy at one point – but nothing like the previous “girls kicking ass” scenes from recent franchise installments.  Again, maybe this will be corrected in FF9.

Seeing old friends was awesome.  Cameos done right: Leo and Santos.  A few seconds on screen – and it was GREAT.  Bringing Elena back was a smart plot move, too, and – while I understand that we needed to simplify the dynamic of Dom’s new family – I did NOT like the story killing her off.  Her death seemed overkill for the franchise.

Los Angeles > New York.  I liked that they worked New York into the story, but that last scene didn’t feel like a family dinner.  The bad green screen/CGI to make them look like they were in NYC hurt the imagery.  I like the Los Angeles stories because those locations are REAL and don’t feel like sound stages pretending to be “home”.  Actual locations.

I just realized that the Fast and Furious and Star Wars (Skywalker) franchise are in sync as far as installments going forward.  I’m a nerd.

The films I enjoy in order:

  1. Fast Five
  2. The Fast and the Furious
  3. Furious 7
  4. 2 Fast 2 Furious
  5. Fast and the Furious 6
  6. Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
  7. The Fate of the Furious
  8. Fast and Furious

EPILOGUE: Never forget… Street Sharks

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