This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Andrew’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Why I Watched It:
- Part of my "Finishing the Franchise" concentration, and sub-project: "First and the Furious", where I watch a Fast and Furious movie on the first day of every month in 2021.
This movie's opening is WILD! Dom is being transported to prison on a packed school bus filled with other prisoners. Brian, Mia, and someone else show up in go-fast cars to spring him. The way that they go about this is to force the school bus to crash into Brian's car. This causes the bus to crash and roll maybe 20 times! Clearly the plan failed. Clearly they killed everyone in the bus.
Then we get a couple of minutes of new footage explaining that everyone on the bus was fine and accounted for?!?! What!?!? Not the bus I saw. Then the reporters say that Everyone has been accounted for except Dom, who is presumed to have escaped and is now on the run.
What happens next is even more outrageous. We see Brian and Mia driving together in Rio, Brazil and Mia HAS CUT HER BANGS!?!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!
I'm having a little fun here, but seriously, up to this point the aspect in the Fast and Furious movies that I found most baffling was how Jordana Brewster made those bangs look that sexy.
It's easy to understand why people sort of lost their shit when this film comes out. Clearly a key element is the inclusion of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He is a perfect fit for the vibe of this film. 1) He is an absolute monster of a man. 2) He understands his unique comic rhythms and delivery. He reminded me of a 70's or 80's police chief from a famous movie that I watched this year, but I can't place which one. He doesn't really have quips, but he has rediclious turns of phrase, delivered in a way that is aware of how bombastic it sounds, but also playing it straight.
Example: One of his men tells him, "I have good news and bad news". The Rock doesn't even wait for the guy to ask which he wants first. He has to be in control at every moment. So The Rock says, "You know I like my dessert first". What a crazy thing to say. Then, after the guy has given him the good news, The Rock says, "Now give me them vegetables". It's just wild.
The plot (if anyone cares) starts out a bit shaky. Brian and Mia are strapped for cash, and they meet up with Vince from the first movie (whom I don't care for at all as a character). He gets them to take part in a "easy" heist of three cars. Because he is a fuck up, the heist goes poorly. Apparently they were stealing government impounded cars that belonged to Rio's top organized crime boss.
One of the cars has a chip in it that has sensitive information on it. Dom and the crew find the chip and they plan to use it to seek revenge on the mob boss, but I don't remember why? Also, the chip becomes one of the most insignificant macguffins in film history. After the first act, it is never mentioned again.
Then the film becomes the Magnificent 7, as all the unsavory players from previous movies return to take down the mob boss and free the favelas. I just came to the conclusion that this is a Magnificent 7 remake as I am typing this, and I have rarely been more proud of myself.
The movie also wants us to invest in Brian and Mia but announcing that she is pregnant. Right after we see her run from machine gun fire and jump off of one roof, onto another roof that crashes in, only to escape by a slums of Rio de Janeiro sewage pipe. That was a weird way to do that. And also her pregnancy doesn't really come into play much in the rest of the film. Dom intentionally loses a street race to Brian as a baby shower gift (which is sort of cool in this franchise's world view). And there is a baby announcement late in the film where everyone gets to share in their excitement. And also make cum jokes in the background.
Speaking of illegal street racing, they REALLY have to work to fit that element into this film. They go to a street race to win cars that will help them escape quickly from their heist. But the cars aren't fast enough. So they steal police cars to be "camouflaged". But then they don't even use them, making the street racing scene all the most unnecessary. It is just an ingredient that they feel compelled to include. They need 120 seconds of faceless women walking around, wearing next to nothing, while a hip hop beat plays in the background. It is fundamental.
There is a moment when The Rock shows up at a street race to arrest the crew, but the racers pull guns on the cops, so the cops back down. Which is very reminiscent to an earlier scene where the cops pull up to a house and a bunch of lookie lous pull guns on them. Only that time the cops weren't scared, and they just walked through the crowd. So the scene doesn't really make the most sense.
And then the whole reason the Dom and the gang was at the street race was to lure the cops there so Ludacris can put a tracker on the cop's car. Because apparently he is a tech wizard and safe expert all of the sudden. The funny thing is, the fucking tracker gets found by the cops, so that plan was a pointless too.
This film is filled with set pieces that are very cool, but ultimately accomplish nothing but creating a need for an additional set piece. By most metrics this should not be considered a good film.
The final action set piece has Dom and Brian pulling a giant safe through the streets of Rio, as it is chained to two Dodge Chargers. This "heist" as it were is also extremely dangerous, and definitely killed innocent people on the streets and in various buildings and public spaces. Not to mention all the cars that got destroyed. That includes cars in action, and parked cars. It includes the cars of corrupt police officers, but also the cars of regular people driving on the street.
I fully expected to get another new report explain the incident and how how no one was killed, just like the bus crash at the beginning, but no. It doesn't happen, which leads me to believe that many, many people dies on the street that day and Brian and Dom are guilty of multiple counts of vehicular homicide.
I haven't mentioned The Rock's motivation for embracing Dom and his crew. I won't bother. But that is a lot of testosterone on screen at one time. It is funny to me that pretty boy Paul Walker (RIP) is scene as any kind of peer to these mountain men.
Then we get a post credit with two cameos. Rosario Dawson is back and working with The Rock to track down Dom. And then the silly spoiler of all spoilers, Leti is back from the dead! Cut to black.
I will end by saying that I did notice the attention to diversity in this film. And how it feels totally organic, and not forced in any way. And how it feels very believable. There is Pacific Islander, Latino, Caucasian, African American, Asian, Hispanic, and even Gal Gadot is allowed to use her native Middle Eastern, Israeli accent.