As many of you know, I'm a pretty big fan of the Fast series. I know many people who roll their eyes to that, because yes, they are obviously big, dumb movies. If you watched the series from the beginning, it's hard to not to appreciate how this series rose from the ashes after a few missteps.
Reviewing these movies is almost impossible: I've seen reviews saying it's the best in the series, and I've seen reviews saying it's easily one of the worst. It's tough because your enjoyment of these films 100% depends on what kind of person you are. If you can suspend your disbelief and accept these movies for what they really are, which is 80s action films with 2017 technology and budgets, then my guess is that you can enjoy these a good bit.
That said, The Fate of the Furious as much as I loved it, felt like it was missing something for me, and it's not anyone's fault. I felt the same way about Furious 7. Ultimately, these movies are forever changed by the tragic death of Paul Walker. He was such an integral part of the series that watching it try to work without him just doesn't work all the time. In the same way 2 Fast 2 Furious felt empty without Vin Diesel, The Fate of the Furious felt like part of its soul is missing without the friendship of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker as a central part of the story. The premise that "Dominic Torretto just went rogue" would have had a much greater impact if Paul Walker's character Brian had been in the mix, because that's the relationship they've really developed the most over the years. Unfortunately, no one can control that and his death was extremely sad. R.I.P. Paul Walker.
Everything else about this movie, was great, however. The action was spectacular, the drama was very fleshed out. I was very skeptical about the why of Vin Diesel turning on everyone, but I believe it was a great way to pull that whole storyline off. I wish these movies would abandon the bad hacking premises, but what can you do? I'm just along for the ride.
I enjoyed some cheesy flourishes that were added as almost a throwback to the older films. The title sequence had the old early 2000s chrome font, and there was a lot of slo-mo. It was just enough to where I took it as a wink and a nod to where these movies started.
One really cool part of this film to me is that in a way, it made history. It's the first big movie (if not the first movie) to film in Cuba since the embargo was lifted. The movie opens in Cuba, and that's a place where Fast and Furious feels right at home. Unlike New York City, which seems like the worst place ever for the crew because of how bad the traffic is. It's understandable that they can't really do much in L.A. anymore since Paul Walker's character is technically alive with his family there, so I'm guessing they just would rather globetrot than have to come up with a way around that.
The Fate of the Furious is definitely one of the "good ones". If you have the sense of humor and love of good action it takes to get into this series, then you will love it. It's a great addition to the franchise and it does feel like they are taking it in some new directions once again, which is probably the right move.
Here's my ranking of the series up to this point, just to give you an idea:
Fast and Furious 6
Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Fate of the Furious
The Fast and The Furious
Fast and Furious (fourth one)
2 Fast 2 Furious