The Fate of the Furious is now available via Universal on Blu-ray (also 4K UltraHD).
Maybe millions of action fans can't be wrong, but this McFranchise is in fact staggeringly uninspired. What began as a single film about cocky, territorial street-racing youths has mutated into an unwieldy mess that mixes international, 007-style elements with queasy, sentimental "family" feelings. I guess you either get it or you don't. It's cool that so many people like this product, but the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired, the cast delivers what are essentially non-performances, and the pacing makes these two-hour-plus films feel twice as long.
In Fate, Dom (Vin Diesel) is drawn away from wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the rest of his Fast "family" (director F. Gary Gray pushes the whole "never turn your back on family" angle harder than ever). He's being blackmailed by cyberterrorist Cipher (a truly slumming Charlize Theron) over a major family secret (blood family this time, not the fake, touchy-feely 'family of friends' hokum the series trades in). While he's working with Cipher to steal a nuclear football that could lead to global catastrophe, Letty, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), and the rest of the gang (including series regulars Tyrese Gibson and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) try to hunt him down and understand why he turned his back on, you guessed it, his family.
As usual, the action set pieces are about the only reason to see the film. The dialogue-driven scenes are easy enough to tune out while waiting for the next mondo chase sequence. And there are some doozies in Fate, including a chase set on an Arctic ice field involving a nuclear submarine. Give credit where credit is due, you just don't see that kind of lightning-paced craziness in every action film. As long as the producers keep dreaming up new and visually stimulating ways to up the action ante, the series' future is safe.
Universal's Blu-ray offers the expected technical excellence (the soundtrack is DTS:X Master Audio). The special features package offers the basics we've come to expect from the format: commentary by director Gray, extended fight scenes, a featurette on shooting in Cuba (the film's opening Cuban-set drag race is actually its most exciting), several featurettes about "Car Culture" and the film's stunt work, and the four-part character examination "In the Family."
My personal attitude toward the lucrative Fast franchise is cynical, no doubt. This series makes a lot of people happy, and really there's nothing wrong with turning off one's brain and reveling in a brainless thrill ride. But what's really cynical is how these filmmakers chose to capitalize on those very low audience demands by churning out noisy nonsense every couple years.