So first things first: The Fast and Furious movies are absurd. They're absolutely preposterous. But they are so in the best way.
I will watch these movies until they stop making them.
So let's talk about what makes the F&F franchise so darn good.
First, they really realize what doesn't matter. What gadget, device, or macguffin are they after? Doesn't matter. What's this sequel called? Who cares. Weren't these characters we are currently rooting for actually the villains in the previous films? *shrug.
Second, the F&F follows a basic but very important rule of writing: Make good characters. If you have good characters, you can write them sitting in a room watching paint dry, and their interactions will still be interesting. Say what you will about this series, but it has good characters, with real motivations, stakes, and choices. I'd be hard-pressed to name another action series where I know all the characters by name. And in a franchise with as many characters as this one, that says something.
Third, the franchise manages to consistently hit the right note at the right moment, both in the movies individually and in the series as a whole. We've had, count 'em, eight movies now, and they still manage to feel fresh nearly every time.
The Fate of the Furious is absolutely the movie the series needed at this point. We needed to see what would happen if the crew was strained to the breaking point. And what's the one thing that could shatter this team? Dom's betrayal. (That's not a spoiler)
And what's the one thing that could make Dom turn his back on his family?
I won't answer that, but the plot follows that line very well. It also asks one other very important question, one that is central to everything, possibly even our very existence:
What if cars acted like zombies?
The Fate of the Furious boasts possibly the best script of the entire series, and everyone - Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Ludicris, and Tyrese Gibson - are all as good as they've ever been, sometimes better. Charlize Theron solidifies her place as the friggin' ice queen of Hollywood, and I could watch her do it all day.
But possibly my favorite thing about this movie is the fact that the action sequences - which are bigger, explodier, and more insane than ever - sometimes quite literally reflect what is going on in the dynamics of the relationships between the characters. Whether it's a literal moment of tension between Dom and the rest of his team, a fight to save what is most important, or the way they rally round to protect one of their own, the action reveals character. And that's what good action does. And all the explodey and punchy moments are tempered with just the right amount of heartfelt drama that the franchise always keeps in such perfect balance.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hole left in the series after Paul Walker's passing. It does still feel like something is missing. But the movie finds a way to continue paying homage to his legacy, and that's as it should be.
I still very vividly remember the night in high school when I went to the first F&F movie with my friends, and how it made us all want to drive home really, really fast. It's been announced that this iteration of the F&F franchise will come to a close with #10. So we have two more to go. I will be there for the end, as I have been all along.
If you like the Fast & Furious movies, you'll like this one. If you don't, you won't. But if you want to have fun, go see this movie. Just go watch it. Just do it.
It's Summer 2017, baby. Ride or Die.