Movie Pre-Game: The Fate of the Furious

What’s the Deal: Boom. Crash. Bang. Kapow.  Cars go bang. Vin Diesel. The Rock. Money.  Money. Money. This eighth entry offers more of the same, with a couple caveats: Charlize Theron drives into the franchise, and why the hell is Dom betraying his family?!?!?!?!

Matt Kelly’s Breakdown

There will never be another like the Fast series. The first three were anywhere from fine to garbaaaǵe. Then the fourth movie figured something out. I’m not sure what that was, but it made a ‘uuuuge difference because Fast FiveFast & Furious 6, and Furious 7 were all perfect summer blockbusters. They have top quality action set pieces. The characters are likable. They don’t take themselves too seriously. All they do is win.

And here we are in 2017 waiting to learn the Fate of the Furious. You get it. Fate, F8. It’s very clever. Fate has everything going for it. Charlize Theron looks like she’s from the second Matrix movie and can apparently hack cars. Of course she can. And that will create quite an issue for our heroes since they drive cars. Also, they fly them sometimes. And it looks like they skate them in this one. This movie looks great.

The Biggest Asset is The Rock. He is, without a doubt, the megastar of the last two Fasts and nearly 100% of the marketing has been placed squarely on his gigantic shoulders.

The Achilles’ Heel may be the fact that this is the first Fast film for director F Gary Gray. Justin Lin helmed Four, Five and Six before handing the franchise over to James Wan for Seven. So let’s see what Gray’s credits are. Oh, never mind. He directed Straight Outta Compton and The Italian Job. He’s gonna be great. Let’s say then that the Achilles’ Heel is the very real possibility that whatever this Evil Dom twist ends up being is dumb. I don’t think that qualifies as a heel. Let’s say an Achilles’ Pinky Toe.

Daniel Cohen’s Breakdown

Out of all the mind-numbing and dumb franchises out there, Fast & Furious infuriates me more than any of them.  More than Pirates of the Caribbean.  More than Transformers.  All of them.  These movies get the biggest free passes in the history of cinema.  It irks me.  This is vintage garbage that would have been lambasted and ripped apart fifteen years ago, but now we’re more accepting of it?  I dare you to find a positive review for this movie where it doesn’t say something on the lines of “I know it’s dumb, but…”  Why can’t we just call this for what it is – dumb! 

If you love these films, more power to you.  I’m glad you’re able to escape in mindless entertainment for two hours.  I get it. I like plenty of guilty pleasure movies myself.  I love Armageddon.  I love Independence Day.  I liked Independence Day: Resurgence for crying out loud!  Here’s my biggest problem with the perception of Fast & Furious: Why do these films get a pass, but the ones I just mentioned are constantly ridiculed as bad movies?  They are all loud, overly long CGI-fests.  What’s the difference?

For me, what separates good dumb fun from bad dumb fun are the characters.  Independence Day had people with actual personalities.  Will Smith.  Bill Pullman.  Jeff Goldblum.  Maybe they were buried in stupid material, but they gave good performances.  I cared.  The characters in Fast & Furious are nothing.  They are all the same.  I don’t care about Dom, I’m sorry.  That’s the difference.  I’m watching generic characters in generic explosions with generic generics all over the place.  I respect the work that goes into the set pieces, but that’s where it ends.

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough about the franchise itself, but how about this movie in particular?  More of the same.  Is there really anything else that needs to be said?  They add more people.  They up the dumb (cars riding in Antarctica, or whatever).  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  I guess the one somewhat interesting hook is that Dom has betrayed his family, so you want to know why.  Here’s the bottom-line: If you love these movies, go.  If you don’t, stay away.  The end.

The Biggest Asset: This franchise is a monster.

The Achilles’ Heel: Will there finally be fatigue?

Tommy Tracy’s Breakdown

I regard The Fast and the Furious franchise as one of the most fun and ridiculous set of movies in our cultural zeitgeist. What started out as a simple street racing/small heist film (and quite frankly, a straight up Point Break rip off), turned into an over the top heist franchise (or Ocean’s Eleven with cars).

Some say this is all style and no substance. I disagree. This isn’t Michael Bay we’re talking about here. These films, while dumb fun, have had plenty of character development, making you care about most of the people on screen. Dom, Brian and Mia were family, and you felt it.

Later installments brought us fan favorites like Han and The Rock’s Detective Hobbes, who looks like he could destroy everyone just by looking at them.

Everyone in these films are considered “family” (you’ll hear it a billion times), and a fan can’t help but feel with them and for them. Who would have thought that the loss of Paul Walker would have actually made the end of Furious 7 elicit tears from grown men? Yeah, didn’t see that coming, did ya?

The reason people keep coming back in 100% are the stunts, which continue to get more and more insane with each film. In the first, Dom and Brian barely avoided a high speed train. Seven films later, they’re out running a friggin’ submarine. Amazing.

The Biggest Asset: The cast, the cars and the crazy stunts.

The Achilles’ Heel: How do they keep topping themselves?

Matt Kelly: This movie is going to make money. 2017 has been surprisingly awesome in terms of early year movies, but summer is where the money is, and Fate is the first real blockbuster on the calendar, even though it is not even close to summer. The people are clamoring for some action and Toretto is ready to give it to them.

Also, these movies do particularly well overseas. Even though Star Wars: The Force Awakens tripled Furious 7’s domestic box office, they had almost the same foreign gross. That is more than Jurassic World and Age of Ultron. It isn’t hard to figure out why. Besides being awesome, the Fast movies are spectacularly diverse; more so than any other film franchise, they also trot the globe better than James Bond. There truly is something for everyone.

The Ceiling: It will break a billion worldwide. Not sure about 1.5, so let’s say the ceiling is 1.8 billion.

The Floor: $1.3 billion.

Daniel Cohen: Not only is this a proven franchise, but the competition right now at the box office is worse than Division 5 Quidditch.  Movies like Beauty and the BeastKong: Skull Island and Logan are long in the rear view mirror.  The biggest wide releases last week were Smurfs: The Lost Village and Going in Style.  Wow.  The Fate of the Furious has the entire box office to itself.  Holy Passover.  

The Ceiling: $1.2 Billion Worldwide

The Floor: $950 Million Worldwide

Tommy Tracy: After a stellar March, April is looking rather dry. F8 was always going to make a load of money, but with no competition until Guardians Vol. 2 in May, expect this to blow away every film this month. When it makes enough, we’ll also be looking at a sooner rather than later Fast 9, which needs to finally take place in space as they drive their cars on the rings of Saturn.

The Ceiling: $1 Billion Worldwide

The Floor: $600 Million Worldwide

Matt Kelly: Scene stealer is a tough one since this movie is more or less the same cast as the last one (with one exception), and picking Charlize Theron with her Gone In 60 Seconds hair would be cheating, so…hm…I guess it’s a toss-up between Kristofer Hivju (Tormund on Game of Thrones) and Scott Eastwood (the guy who explodes underwater in Suicide Squad). I’ll give it to Tormund, although I’m starting to think the young Eastwood has a bigger role than he’s letting on based off of his character’s name. Secret bad guy? Who knows?

Daniel Cohen: I have to go with Charlize Theron, who, simply put, is just a damn good actress.  She could probably make a Larry the Cable Guy movie decent.  Part of me is happy you have such a talented actress to up the quality, but this is also a waste of her time.  I’m sure she got a hefty paycheck, so I can’t fault her for that.  I can’t imagine Charlize Theron was really into the Fast & Furious mythology. 

Tommy Tracy: It’s hard for me not to say John “The Dwayne” Rockson. He’s always great in these, but I feel like Charlize Theron has a sneaky quality that I’m unsure of, so I’m going with her. Look for Kurt Russell to also impress in a much larger role.

(Final Score will be measured in Vin Diesel Biceps)

Matt Kelly: I am as excited for this movie as I am for pretty much everything but Guardians, Thor, and Kingsman. There is something about the Fast movies. They’re big fun crazy action full of wisecracking friends who all make fun of Tyrese. It harkens back to the movies of the 80’s where guys like Stallone or Schwarzenegger could walk through a hail of bullets and come out unscathed, all the while mowing down every henchman in a square mile with a mini-gun. We need more of those movies. So it’s a 5 for me.

Anticipation Level: 5 Vin Diesel Biceps out of 5

Daniel Cohen: I’ll give critics a pass for reviewing the last film highly because of the Paul Walker situation, but I’m completely dumbfounded and flabbergasted this eighth entry is yet again getting fresh reviews.  For all these people who yell and scream about how movies are losing originality and are nothing but franchise vessels, why are we encouraging and enabling these films?  I don’t get it.  It literally drives me mad.  Go away. 

Anticipation Level: 1 Vin Diesel Bicep out of 5

Tommy Tracy: I know these movies are dumber than dirt, but I can’t help get excited for them. Has there ever been a series where the latter movies are leaps and bounds better than the earlier ones? And no, Star Wars doesn’t technically count.

Anticipation Level: 5 Vin Diesel Biceps out of 5

The Overall Vin Diesel Bicep Score: 11 out of 15

Fate of the Furious hits Theaters on Friday April 14.

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