By Skip Sheffield
Bam! Pow! Screech! Ka-boom!
That’s just about all you need to know about “Fate of the Furious.” This is chapter eight in the continuing saga of illegal street racers, starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as rival racers who are forced to work together.
Vin Diesel has been with the franchise since its beginning in 2001. He has also been producer of chapters four through eight. A unique fact about this film is that it is the first American film shot on location in Cuba in 50 years. In Chris Morgan’s sixth script, Vin Diesel’s character of Dominic “Dom” Toretto is newly-wed to his longtime girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). The honeymoon is interrupted when Dom is challenged to a race by a Cuban local. The race seems a mismatch. Dom is in a ramshackle 1950 Chevy versus a souped-up 1956 Ford. Ah, but Dom is resourceful. The franchise is based on amazing car stunts, each one more outrageous than the last. Dom and the CGI-enhanced car stunts never disappoint.
Dom is momentarily distracted from his racing and his honeymoon by a mysterious beautiful woman who coerces him into going in in cahoots with her. Turns out Dom has a son he never knew about, and the woman known only as Cipher (Charlize Theron) has him and his mother imprisoned.
Charlize Theron is one of the most beautiful villains in cinematic history. Her first lieutenant is a red-bearded madman known as Rhodes (Kristopher Hivju). The action shifts to Iceland, where Dom is ordered to steal a suitcase filled with codes for nuclear weapons. Production notes tell me the tech team set up the most spectacular explosion ever filmed in Iceland. I believe it.
In between there is a diversion and yet another spectacular car race on the streets of Manhattan.
Director F. Gary Gray (“Straight Out Of Compton”) has the good sense to punch up the humor in the ridiculously far-fetched script. Dom has an able foil in Luke Hobbs, played by the massive Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Jason Statham returns for a few yucks as Deckard as do Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson as members of Dom’s merry band.
These F&F yarns always end inconclusively. Producer Diesel has stated there will be two more chapters before the cars go into the garage for good. We can look forward to them in 2018 and 2019. “Fast & Furious” became Universal Pictures most successful franchise of all time by 2015. Why would they kill a good thing?