Here we are ladies and gentleman, we made to the 8th and (far from) final movie in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.  It’s been a long road catching up on a 16 year old, 8 movie strong franchise but I feel it was well worth it.  The series has had it’s ups and downs but I feel it has had more ups and “Fate” is certainly among those.

Since it’s still a new movie, I will keep this review SPOILER FREE! Let’s get into it!

Right off the line, I will say this – I loved this movie.  This entry is definitely an improvement over “Furious 7” in a lot of ways.  It’s funnier, the action makes more sense and feeds the plot better, and I felt the over all pacing was pretty spot on.

“Fate” starts out with Dom and Letty on their honeymoon in Cuba and, of course, trouble soon finds them and is resolved, as per usual, with a street race.  This might be one of my favorite, if not my favorite, street race in the series.  No spoilers but the way it plays out is pretty fantastic and it challenges our heroes in new ways that the series hasn’t done before.  It felt fresher and newer than the eighth movie in a series really has any right to.

Later that day, Dom is approached by Charlize Theron’s character and told that he will betray his team and come work for her.  After Dom refuses, she shows him something on a phone that will force him to do it. It’s always a fine line to walk when writers use this plot device to force otherwise good characters to turn bad, so I was initially worried about what the reveal might be but all my worries were unfounded.  The reason the writers came up with not only makes sense with in the universe this franchise has built but it is instantly believable and raises the stakes to the point where you know that you would do the exact same thing Dom is doing were you in his position.  That’s good writing.

Also, when the reveal takes place is just as important as what the reveal is.  Earlier I said this movie has good pacing and this is a big reason why.  Lots of times, a movie or TV show waits until pretty deep into the story to pop the reveal but “Fate” pulls back the curtain pretty early (maybe halfway thru or beginning of the second act-ish) and that is of huge benefit to the movie. It makes you understand why Dom has to do what he is doing and shows you just how backed into a corner he really is.

Aside from Charlize Theron’s menacing villain, we get a new hero in Scott Eastwood, who plays an underling reporting to Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody.  After seeing it, my wife made the comment that is was somewhat disrespectful to Paul Walker’s memory to add in a new pretty boy law enforcement guy and while I can kind of see her point, I think Eastwood plays a very different character here.  Paul Walker’s Brian was a leading man and had a charming, funny personality where as Eastwood’s character is very much a by the book, government lackey with no sense of humor and that is actually something I think was needed.  Eastwood is that necessary straight man to foil the humor of the rest of the crew, especially the court jester of the team, Tyrese Gibson’s Roman. The interactions of Gibson and Eastwood made for some of the funniest lines in the series to date.  Also, yes – I am purposely dancing around saying Eastwood’s character name. It comes from a hysterical joke in the movie so I’m not going to spoil it here.

Just like previous films, the cast works exceedingly well together.  Everyone gets a moment or two to shine, it feels like everyone has a purpose for being in the movie, and all the characters feel like real people vs watered down stereotypes, with maybe the exceptions of Eastwood’s character and Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey.  As I said Eastwood’s character is a little paint by numbers and Emmanuel’s Ramsey just hasn’t quite had enough development time having only been in two movies in the series thus far as compared to the four or five the rest of the main crew have been in.

In my review of “Furious 7”, I dogged on the prolonged action sequences and how they dragged the movie down.  “Fate” does have those same prolonged action sequences but they are much better directed in this film and have the humor and character interaction needed to make them feel like they’re more than just filler.

It’s been a long ride working through these movies and if it all culminates in this newest entry then that’s perfectly fine with me.  “Fate” is exactly the kind of movie I want when it’s summer blockbuster season, fun, action packed, and left me with a smile on my face.

Until next time, Thank You for reading and…..

SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!

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