Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button

Feature


Now that Dom (Vin Diesel), and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are married, Brian and Mia have retired from the game, and the rest of the crew has been exonerated, the globetrotting team seems to have found a semblance of a normal life. But, when a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) lures Dom back into the world of crime and convinces him to betray those closest to him, the crew faces new trials that will test them as never before. (From Universal’s official synopsis)

 Fate of the Furious
The Fast & Furious movies are never going to die – they’re just going to get more and more ridiculous as they continue making more and more money. Defying the lead set by Rob Cohen’s bland, instantly outdated ‘70s car-chase pastiche, The Fast and the Furious (2001), it only took one sequel (John Singleton’s homoerotic hip-hop odyssey 2 Fast 2 Furious, 2003) for the franchise to jump the shark. Even then, it took two more movies for the series to finally arrive at a blockbuster-worthy formula. I know that these films inspire emotional investment, but I remain an outsider, watching from afar with only vague memories of past films and very little to say. Are the Fast & Furious movies kind of stupid? Yes, but that’s sort of the point. Is the insanely convoluted continuity difficult to follow? Yes again, but these tentative narrative connections have become the thematic core of the series. Has it all been downhill since the fifth movie, Justin Lin’s Fast Five (2011), perfected the blueprint? I think so, but it doesn’t really matter. I mean, have you see the alternative? xXx 3? Collide? Need For Speed? No thanks.

Critically, I can only approach the eighth film, Fate of the Furious (get it, F8 of the Furious?), from the very specific goals that drive it (no pun intended), i.e. against the odds heists, the dramatic ties between the characters (or ‘family’ as the series is so fond of reminding us), and cartoonish, car-based action sequences. Most importantly, a Fast & Furious movie cannot be considered successful if it is boring. To that, I have to admit that the predictable, surprise-free storyline generates a few yawns during its middling set-up. It takes a very long time to really get things moving, due in part to the writers being forced to reintroduce a dozen characters and leave room for The Rock’s distressingly cutesy one-liners. Still, the screenplay (credited to Chris Morgan is packed (bloated?) with enough good humour, chuckle-worthy one-liners, and melodramatic moments to keep things moving along, as brand-new series director F. Gary Gray ramps up the destructive scope of the action.

 Fate of the Furious
Gray, who found himself back in vogue, thanks to his NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton (2015), seems almost destined to pick up the reins on this series following two decades of smaller-scale heists ( Set It Off, 1996), car chases ( The Italian Job, 2003), Vin Diesel vehicles ( A Man Apart, 2003), and about a dozen hip-hop music videos. He definitely meets the standards set by Justin Lin in episodes three through six (more five and six than the others) and James Wan continued through part seven – setting up large scale fisticuffs and car mayhem with well established geography and plenty of kinetic energy. He also includes the requisite low-angle shots of ladies’ butts and does a better job with the frantic, computer monitor espionage stuff than the last James Bond and Jason Bourne films. Despite the utter destruction wreaked during the remote controlled car set-piece, I found myself most impressed with the hand-to-hand combat scenes, which are mostly built around Jason Statham’s established skill-set. The jail-break scene isn’t quite up to Raid 2 standards, but it’s definitely above par for the series.

 Fate of the Furious

Video


Fate of the Furious was shot using an array of digital cameras (Arri, Red, Sony, Blackmagic, and more!) and is presented in 2.40:1, 1080p HD video. The footage is as hyper-clean and super detailed as the last few entries in the series. Returning cinematographer Stephen F. Windon maintains general visual continuity from the Justin Lin era of the franchise, which includes a diverse palette that changes based on location. Tropical locations are vivid and warm, inner-city locations are cool and steely, and the arctic finale is even cooler than that. The sharpness also changes depending on location, due to the extensive post-production tampering with contrast levels and colour timing. Sunny scenes feature loads of texture and deep-set patterns, while the cooled palettes tend to be smoothed out a bit. The closest the transfer gets to ‘problematic’ occurs during the darkest sequences, where elemental separation muddies up a bit and the hue quality turns unattractively monochromatic. These are almost certainly choices the filmmakers made and not a problem with the disc itself.

Audio


Fate of the Furious comes fitted with a DTS:X soundtrack, including a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 core for those of us that don’t have that X set-up in our tiny little apartments. The mix and track quality exceed the requirements for a Fast & Furious movie. Car crashes are crunchy, gunshots are punchy, explosions are bassy, and dynamic range is wide. The dialogue-driven scenes are surprisingly lacking in supporting effects, but are the performances themselves are still clean and consistent, even when characters are mumbling or whispering. Returning composer Brian Tyler supplies the dramatic strings and rocking segues between bouncy pop, dance, and hip-hop tunes. The music might actually be louder than it was during previous entries and it often purposefully overpowers the already melodic sound effects.

 Fate of the Furious

Extras


  • Extended Director’s Cut version, only available via digital copy code – I’ll be honest, this disc arrived the day before release, so I didn’t bother downloading and watching the digital streaming version, since the image/sound quality wouldn’t have been as good.
  • Commentary with director F. Gary Gray – Gray spends too much time describing on-screen events, thanking/congratulating his cast & crew, and occasionally loses his discussion threads while trying to remain screen-specific, but is still affable and offers some valuable behind-the-scenes information.
  • The Cuban Spirit (8:04, HD) – A look at the film’s Cuban scenes with the cast & crew. Fate of the Furious was the first major studio motion picture to shoot on the island in many decades, so the process was very ‘involved.’
  • In the Family:
    • Betraying the Family: Cipher and Dom (6:35, HD) – The filmmakers discuss the new villain and Dom’s break from the team.
    • Leaderless: A Family Lost (5:00, HD) – More on developing Dom’s betrayal and how it affected the other characters.
    • Shaw Family Values (3:56, HD) – Concerning the redemption of the previous two films’ bad guys and the introduction of their mother.
    • Meet the Nobodys (5:45, HD) – An exploration of Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood’s shady protagonists.
  • Car Culture:
    • The Hero Cars of Fast (10:24, HD) – A showcase for the cool new cars assigned to the major characters.
    • Zombie Cars (5:35, HD) – A breakdown of the spectacular remote-controlled car sequence.
    • The Ripsaw (5:22, HD) – Concerning the military-grade arctic mini tank.
  • All About the Stunts – Behind-the-scenes of three of the film’s biggest car chases
    • Malecon Street Race (6:15, HD)
    • Iceland Stunt Diaries (6:45, HD)
    • The Streets of New York (5:27, HD)
  • Two extended fight scenes (5:03, HD)
  • Trailers for other Universal releases


 Fate of the Furious

Overall


I’m no expert in the field, but I found The Fate of the Furious plenty entertaining and would even argue that it features the best set-pieces since Fast Five. Clearly, the formula is being drawn thin at this point and the filmmakers probably should’ve spent more time setting up the story between scenes of car mayhem, but this thing is already more than two hours long and I don’t know if I could deal with another 20 minutes of back-story. Universal’s Blu-ray looks and sounds every bit as good as you’d assume it would, based on previous franchise entries, and includes decent, if not fluffy, special features.

 Fate of the Furious

 Fate of the Furious

*Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray, then resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


Links: