Obvious Warning: Massive Spoilers Ahead!
I love the Fast and Furious franchise. It seems like they tailor make each film for a 16-year-old Geeky Daddy. Awesome cars, huge explosions, guns and gratuitous camera shots of scantily clad women that add nothing to the storytelling whatsoever.
Just pure suspension of disbelief and escapism fun…with plot holes large enough to drive a Dodge Challenger through…
This is how I picture the way Chris Morgan (the head writer for the Fast and Furious series) came up with the plot for this chapter of the franchise:
Morgan and a few studio executives walked into a special classroom for 8th grade students jacked up on Mt. Dew and Monster energy drinks, had all the kids sit in a circle and start yelling out random things they think are cool:
“Explosions!” “Corvettes!” “Iceland!” “The Rock!” “Babies!” “Driverless cars!” “Submarines!” “New York City” “Eastwood!” “Orange Lamborghinis!” “Machine Guns!” “Cuban Women!” “Huge muscles in sleeveless shirts!”
“AN EVIL GINGER SANTA CLAUS!!!”
To which Chris Morgan responds with “Great! I can work with this!” while the studio executives stand behind him with deer-in-the-headlights fear in their eyes.
But, as with the previous films, the Fast and Furious team once again puts together an entertaining ride.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), whose character has morphed from street racing thug to the world’s greatest paramilitary tactician over the past half dozen films, gets blackmailed and forced to turn on his “family” by the world’s hottest cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron). His team then goes on the hunt for Dom with the assistance of their former enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and their shadowy financier Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell).
Diesel did his best to try to make the character of Dom show more human emotions in this film. He softened the abrasive, gravelly sound in his voice that seems to have increased exponentially over the past few films and even shed a tear in one scene. I am not saying it was overly successful (it was more like watching a robot attempting to learn how to love), but it was necessary for the story.
The interaction between Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Statham’s Deckard Shaw stole the show from the other actors and provided the most entertaining dialogues in the movie. There is a WWE style trash talking dialogue while the two are incarcerated that provides laugh out loud moments.
After watching the movie, it is obvious why the studio is attempting to put together a spin-off from the series starring these two. The other characters on the team just don’t really stand out or make you care about them in any meaningful way.
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez and Nathalie Emmanuel all put in serviceable supporting performances and Tyrese Gibson continues to perfect his “Chris Tucker Shouting Your Lines Louder Makes You Funnier” theory of acting.
Charlize Theron played a good villain but also provided one scene that I thought was excessively dark for the series.
Little Too Dark?
So major spoiler here but a scene worth discussing.
Dom is doing the bidding of Cipher because she has kidnapped Elena (Esla Petaky) and her baby. In an especially dark scene where she decides Dom needs to be taught a lesson not to cross her, she has a tied up Elena coldly murdered right in front of Dom and the baby.
Maybe it is just because Lil’ G is around the same age as her baby, but I thought the scene was excessively dark for the otherwise fun series. From a storytelling point of view, I understand the need to write out Elena’s character from future series installments, otherwise everytime we see the baby, we are going to be curious about where his mother is.
However I thought it could have been handled in a less dark way. We have seen deaths in the series before with Han and Giselle, but those deaths happened in action scenes that helped tell the stories. Elena could have been shot protecting her baby, trying to escape or saving Dom’s life somehow. The execution in the room with the baby just seemed like an easy out for the writers.
More Lighter Side In Future Films?
One of the most entertaining parts of the film was Jason Statham going full Jason Statham in a gunfight while caring for Elena’s Alvin & The Chipmunks listening baby.
It was a terrifically coordinated fight scene with funny Statham & baby dialogues mixed in.
I also would have loved to have seen more interaction between Statham and his meddling mother Magdalene Shaw (uncredited Helen Mirren). It was entertaining and I hope it will be expanded into a larger role in future films.
Handling the lack of Paul Walker
When the team realizes that they are going to need to hunt down Dom, Roman makes the comment “Brian would know what to do” to which Letty responds “No, we agreed not to bring Brian and Mia into this,” referring to how Paul Walker’s character Brian left the life of bullets behind. I thought it could have been addressed better, but it was a quick and easy way to address the question on the audience’s minds.
Scott Eastwood’s role of Little Nobody, Mr. Nobody’s intern, did provide some moments of comic relief, but seemed a lot like a Paul Walker replacement.
Maybe those same studio execs that accompanied Morgan to the 8th grade focus group meeting got together and said “we can market the film to young white female ticket purchasers if we include a new young good looking white dude to act alongside Tyrese Gibson.”
At the outdoor family feast, which is the go to conclusion for most these films, Dom announces the name he has decided to give the baby will be “Brian”. While this is a touching tribute to the retired character of Brian O’conner, wouldn’t a minor 4th wall break of naming the baby Paul be a better tribute to Walker and make more sense for the series?
Technically, in the Fast and Furious universe, the baby’s uncle Brian is still alive. This could be awkward at family reunions to have your baby named after your living brother-in-law.
Overall I thought the movie was a fun ride.
Don’t expect strong character development, thought provoking dialogues or academy award winning acting performances, but do expect fun stunts, some entertaining dialogue, and lots of eye candy.
I would give this movie a 4 on the Geeky Daddy Movie Scale & a “not so kid friendly” on the Geeky Daddy SideKick Scale, with a caveat that there is the one scene that new mothers may have an issue with.
Geeky Mommies’s Comment (Spoiler): This is the last Fast and Furious movie I’m going to watch – Geeky Daddy will need to find someone else to see the next 20 or so sequels to this series. As a new mom, it was bad enough that they have a baby locked up and being threatened (seriously, Vin Diesel is the only guy you can get that you need to go out of the way to kidnap his baby? He can drive a car fast – I’m sure there are a million military guys that would be way better, but I digress.) The baby looked to be under a year old which would mean that he’s breastfeeding or at least on formula, and if he’s anything like Lil’ G, needs a ton of attention (although this baby never cried once so you know it’s fiction). The fact that they killed his mom (while shooting a gun in the same room as the baby without earplugs) was horrific and made this fun series not fun anymore. They don’t address who is then going to care for this baby (is he instantly weaned onto formula, for example?). Do they not realize that babies need pretty much constant supervision? Seemed like a short-sighted move for the bad guys (yes, we already get that they’re bad), but also just left a terrible taste in my mouth. The thought of me leaving my baby is devastating and I’m sad even thinking about it now. Yes, it made for a hilarious scene with Jason Statham, but this should have been handled better.