The Fast and the Furious franchise has always adapted to the fashions of the time. When street racing was popular, it was about street racing. When Japan was “in,” Fast and the Furious went Tokyo Driftin’. And after Heath Ledger’s tragic demise made beautiful young actors dying before their time cool once again, Furious 7 incorporated the death of one of its lead actors into the series mythology.
With the eighth film, The Fate of the Furious Eight, the venerable franchise’s producers have clearly noted the success of such movies as The Ridiculous 6, The Magnificent Seven and The Hateful Eight. When Sandler, Denzel, and Quentin all seize on the same idea at the same time, you know it’s a hot enough that Fast and Furious is definitely going to take a ride.
The Fate of the Furious Eight may have upset some fans by ditching franchise mainstays like cars. This is a western, and if it fails it fails with horses. The Rock, Ludacris, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Mark Wahlberg and Shia LaBeouf portray the Furious Eight, a group of cowboys on a mission to avenge the death of their old friend Brian O’Connor (played by the now deceased Paul Walker who appears only in digitally enhanced flashback).
After a series of adrenaline-fueled misadventures during which countless horses are spooked, the Furious Eight discover Brian’s murder was a plot by his sister Kelly O’Connor (Charlize Theron) to steal land from Brian’s Native American allies. The Furious Eight find themselves trapped with their backs against a wall so they do what they do best: go wild, drink whiskey, and pull out them guns. The result is a firefight that will leave you pissing your pants.
It’s great to see The Rock, Ludacris, Vin Diesel and the rest of the gang all back together again as one big family, only this time the family has gone West and they ain’t coming back. Plus, the addition of Mark Wahlberg and Shia LaBeouf to the franchise is a long time coming. With most franchises, by movie number 4 or 5 you’ve got to add in a little Wahlberg or a lot of LaBeouf to keep the action fresh and unpredictable. But Fast and Furious decided to wait until part 8 before adding both at the same time, a gamble that pays off big league. Wahlberg’s wild antics and Shia’s screaming fevers reinvigorate Fast and Furious movies like no one’s ever done before.
TL;DR – The Fate of the Furious Eight inaugurates a new Western themed direction for the franchise, fueled by the same infectious cast chemistry and crazy over-the-top action but without the cars fans have come to expect.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“One word describes what’s made Fast and Furious more exciting than ever before: Shia.” – Walter Gropius, Vulture
“The Fate of the Furious Eight provides us with a bracing allegory for the all out race war that afflicted the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century.” – Josef Albers, NPR
“The Fate of the Furious Eight fails with horses.” – Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Variety
“Things were looking pretty bad for the Furious Eight until they get their horses back but then it’s riding time, baby!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“The haircut scene left me writhing on the floor screaming for more.” – Lyonel Feininger, New York Daily News
“After seven near perfect films, I must admit with heavy heart that Fast and Furious has finally gotten stale.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, USA Today
“As things build toward the long, bloody and by-the-numbers (if ably staged) showdown, it’s hard not to mourn for the film this could have been, considering the assemblage of talent.” – Paul Klee, Denver Post
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