A few action films have opening scenes, that by themselves, are worth the price of admission. Taken (2008), District B-13 (2004), Super 8 (2011), and Dawn of the Dead (2004) are four that come to mind. I can now add The Fate of the Furious to this list of movies that grab your attention from the very beginning.
The film opens in Cuba, where newlyweds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are spending their honeymoon. However, their vacation is interrupted when Dom tries to stop a man who is threatening to repossess Dom’s cousin’s car.
Dom talks him out of towing the car away and instead challenges him to a drag race to settle their differences. What ensues is a heart-stopping race through the colorful streets of Havana that ends in a photo finish at the ocean shore.
Next, we find the bride and groom back at the hotel, where Letty brings up the idea of starting a family. Dom goes for a walk to consider Letty’s suggestion and stops to help a woman (Charlize Theron) who is having trouble with her car.
However, the woman is Cipher, a cyber-terrorist who is bent on world domination by acquiring a device that will shut down electrical grids. She blackmails Dom into joining her by showing him something very incriminating on her cell phone.
That sets the stage for a high-octane battle of brawn, muscle cars, and wits that has Dom fighting against his wife and a reassembled gang composed of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Roman (Tyrese), their new team leader Frank (Kurt Russell), his assistant Eric (Scott Eastwood), and Deckard (Jason Statham).
Forget about trying to follow the plot. It’s messy and there are too many characters to keep track of. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacular stunts, the playful badinage between Hobbs and Deckard, and Roman’s comic relief.
In this critic’s opinion, this is the year’s first summer blockbuster.
Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, and prolonged sequences of violence and destruction. Running time: 136 minutes. Distributor: Universal Pictures.