Last night, I was able to attend a special screening of THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, the latest installment of the wildly popular FAST AND FURIOUS series. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy all the movies to some extent – the mixture of over-the-top stunts, ridiculous scenarios, fast cars, and mega eye candy, definitely peaked my interest enough to get see each and every one of these films. When the trailer for THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS dropped, it promised all of the above and more, leaving me intrigued as to where the story would go in the absence of Paul Walker.

THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS, which is directed by F. Gary Gray (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), stars the usual suspects; Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, along with Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and his new sidekick, Little Nobody, played by Scott Eastwood. The film centers around the betrayal of Dom (Vin Diesel) towards his crew after a mysterious woman (played by Charlize Theron) seduces him into working for her. Don’t worry, if you haven’t seen any of the other FAST AND FURIOUS films you will have no problem following along with this new chapter.

I can’t say that I hated this movie, but I certainly can’t say that I loved it. Look, we all know what the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise is bringing to the table, and we all know that it is not impressive feat of cinematic greatness. It’s a fun popcorn flick with non-stop action and plenty of impressive stunt work to keep our attention focused on the screen. So why mess with something that has already proven to work so successfully in the past? To me, the biggest downfall of this film was that 3/4 of it tried to be a serious drama that just so happened to have fancy cars. I even found myself a bit bored during scenes between Dom and his mysterious captor, Cipher.

Then there is the acting. The highlights of the film happened during the scenes that included Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Both of them were hysterical and their on-screen chemistry really helped in pushing along the film. As for our main antagonist, Cipher, played by Charlize Theron, she was a woman who took no shit from anyone. Though I could have done without some of her one-liners, overall I thought she did a great job and I always appreciate when a film has a strong female villain. Then there is Vin Diesel. I just can’t with him, I’m sorry. Personally, I consider him to be one of the worst actors (with the exception of his portrayal of Groot in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY), and I can’t help but laugh anytime he tries to have a serious conversation with any of the characters on screen. The last actor I’ll make mention of is Scott Eastwood – yes, Clint Eastwood’s son. He wasn’t awful, but I can see what the creators were trying to do with the addition of him, as it seems he is taking on the Paul Walker role. I have a lot of opinions on that, probably better left unsaid, so I’ll let you come up with your determinations on if that’s a good idea.

I know it may sound like I’m bashing this movie, but that’s not my goal. Sure, the majority of the acting was sub-par, and I could have used more fast and more furious during a lot of the scenes, but for the most part, I enjoyed my viewing experience, especially seeing it on the giant IMAX screen. Obviously, this movie isn’t winning any Oscars but that’s okay, it’s not that type of movie. I would have loved to have seen more ludicrous (pun intended) scenarios played out mostly because I felt like the trailers gave away all the good stuff not leaving much to surprise the audience with. If you are someone who is a fan of the FAST AND FURIOUS series, then I’m sure you will love what the creators have done with Part 8. For me, I can only hope that the coming films will go back to being the fun, outrageous movies that we have come to love with much more car racing.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS will arrive in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 14

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