Except for the original, I haven’t seen any Fast and Furious film prior to seeing The Fate of the Furious. So I can’t say exactly where in those middle six films that the franchise turned from a gritty look at LA’s street racing scene to James Bond and The Bourne Identity on ecstasy. If I had to guess, it wasn’t exactly one film where that tonal shift happened, but just gradually happened over time, where it now makes sense that a team who once stole DVD players from semi-trucks on LA freeways is now being contracted by the government to ride lamborghinis on Russian ice while evading the heat-seeking missiles of a nuclear submarine.
It doesn’t matter when that tonal shift happened, because the Fate of the Furious is escapism at its finest. Its nonsensical, its stupid, but it’s just so much fucking fun. Fast cars! Hot girls! Shootouts with bad guys on airplanes! Helen Mirren cursing! We don’t need to suspend our disbelief when watching this film, it’s already flown out the window miles before we step into the theater. That’s because Fate of the Furious is a film that is wholly confident in what it is: pure high-octane fun. It isn’t trying to shove a message down our throats or be overly dramatic, it gives the people what they want, high-speed car chases that are even more insane and asinine than what we got in the previous film. It’s nothing but cinematic hedonism, and it’s so, so satisfying.
Really, there’s only two ingredients necessary to make a Furious film: Vin Diesel and fast cars. Furious Nine could be about Diesel driving a Ford Mustang into outer space to battle Russians on the ISS, and Furious 10 could be about him driving a Ferrari to escape the clutches of a giant T-Rex in prehistoric times. The only other constant seems to be that he needs to add a new “family” member to his crew in each movie, which he could do in Furious 9 with a street-smart astronaut and Furious 10 with a caveman with a knack for stealing stone-wheeled cars. Yes, cavemen, dinosaurs and V-8 engines didn’t exist at the same time, and that’s the point. This franchise is smart enough to know it doesn’t need to be smart, it just needs to be fun. Without question, The Fate of the Furious is fun, and then some.