Family can never truly be completely broken up. Cyberterrorist plots can be carried out in the most remote corners of the globe, and cars will adapt to the circumstances.

The Fate of the Furious Blu-Ray Review

Those are three of the main lessons we learn in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment in The Fast and the Furious saga from Universal Studios. In this chapter of the series, Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel, XXX, Ridddick) has seemingly retired from a life as a criminal and professional street racer and is enjoying a honeymoon in Havana with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). However, following a street race in the Cuban capital, Dom is pulled back into his former existence by a notorious female hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Snow White and the Huntsman). The mysterious woman convinces Dom that he should be helping her launch a series of cyberterrorist attacks all over the world.

In order to complete Dom’s first mission with Cipher, former federal law enforcement/national security agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) recruits Dom and the rest of his team — Letty, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), and computer hacktivist Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) — in order to retrieve a nuclear weapon in Berlin. Nevertheless, Dom goes rogue and Hobbs is unjustly arrested for stealing said weapon.

After being locked up in the same jail he helped imprison rogue special forces assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, The Transporter and The Expendables series), Shaw and Hobbs reluctantly join forces to hep take down Cipher and bring Dom back home to the family/crew Toretto started and that he believed had been completely exonerated. The pursuit of Dom and Cipher takes the crew from Europe to the busy streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea.

The film retains many classic characteristics and tropes of the previous films in the action franchise: insanely extravagant and gratuitous car crashes, jumps and stunts. Short, lightly stylized and fast-paced fight sequences with unsophisticated choreography. Snarky, testosterone-fueled verbal jabs and crude and derisive humor. A loud soundtrack comprised of mostly contemporary rap and hip-hop tunes. Perhaps what makes this installment different from others in the series is its stronger emotional moments between Dom and his several families: Letty, the rest of his crew, and even another woman he was romantically involved with. We even see Mr. Diesel — who struts about with his usual bravado — cry after furiously shouting at Theron’s Cipher in several instances surrounding a decision he made with his previous lover Elena (Elsa Pataky). 

Fans of the franchise wept after Paul Walker died in a horrific single-car accident in November 2013 while filming Furious 7 (2015). The loss of his character Brian O’Conner — who supposedly retired from racing after that chapter — was only exacerbated by the grippingly powerful song “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth from the seventh film’s soundtrack. Now, fans may truly find themselves bawling over another painful death in this installment.

Mr. Statham is fantastic as Shaw, delivering angry and sarcastic lines with the stereotypically dry English humor, all whilst pummeling one antagonist after another — with either his bare hands or with a weapon. One scene involves Shaw simultaneously fighting multiple adversaries on a plane and protecting an infant. That’s right, the virile Mr. Statham takes on bad guys and momentarily acts as a guardian.

Kurt Russell (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Hateful Eight) and Scott Eastwood (Gran Torino, Suicide Squad) are fantastic as Mr. Nobody and Little Nobody, the two intelligence operatives helping Hobbs, Letty and the rest of the crew. Russell’s sarcasm and take-charge approach and Eastwood’s sycophantic behavior toward Russell — his superior — pair together in a way that is absolutely hilarious.

Also making a shot yet brilliant appearance as a take-no-nonsense woman from whom Dom stole several assets is Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren. Dame Mirren’s supremely cheeky character adds a whole other level of delight to the film with her one-liners and other surprises. Chris Morgan returns as the film’s screenwriter, which makes the script’s retention of certain types of lines anything but a surprise.

Finally, the photography of the final sequence in the arctic circle may not be visually stunning, but it does help make the plot more enthralling. What better backdrop to host a showdown between a cyberterrorist and a crew of former street racers than an icy landscape on one of the Earth’s poles?

Bonus features exclusive to Blu-Ray include “The Cuban Spirit,” a look into the filming of the movie in Cuba and how the country’s culture influenced the production of the opening scenes. (Fate of the Furious is the first major studio motion picture to shoot in Cuba in decades, given that the travel ban on the country was lifted by former President Barack Obama in late 2016) Also among the Blu-Ray-only special features is “In the Family,” an analysis of the ties and rifts between Dom’s crew throughout the film and how they compare to the relationships between the team members in the previous movies in the franchise. Finally, the last extra feature is “Car Culture,” which explores what driving the many different types of vehicles in the series was like and what characteristics make each car unique.

Special features included on both the Blu-Ray and DVD include “All About the Stunts,” extended fight scenes, and a full commentary with director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton).

The Fate of the Furious is a great thrill ride with a stronger emotional component to it than one might imagine, and that is undoubtedly refreshing. Clearly, Dom Toretto’s family will never be destroyed, even though several cars might.

The Fate of the Furious is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and on-demand starting July 11.

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