While some franchises struggle to make it to Full Trilogy status, the Fast and Furious franchise is on the verge of doing it three times over. The eighth installment of the action series, The Fate of the Furious, is arriving in theaters this Friday, and anticipation is high with the movies being as popular as ever. That being said, past installments have a checkered past with film critics, so it's always a curiosity when reviews start to break for the new titles. We're now in the midst of getting that reaction as the first write-ups have started to arrive online, and it appears that the feelings are fairly mixed.
With about five days to go before director F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious arrives in theaters, Universal Pictures has lifted the review embargo for the blockbuster, and so far the internet features opinions both disappointed and excited by movie number eight. Our own Greg Wakeman, in general, enjoyed the ride of Fate, writing in his review:
The Fate Of The Furious doesn't quite reach the heights of previous installments, but it is still an exhilarating joy ride, and proof that the franchise continues to be the most thrilling and astounding in cinema.
In his review for Variety, Owen Gleiberman questions whether the move away from the franchise's street racing origins has ultimately been a positive thing, but also notes that the new adventures is still thrilling in its own right:
In the end, I'm not sure how I feel about our heroes being made into a pack of world-saving James Bonds, but what's clear is that there's probably no turning back. Most franchises, after eight films, are feeling a twinge of exhaustion, but this one has achieved a level of success --- and perpetual kinetic creative energy --- that's a testament to its commercial/cultural/demographic resonance.
While giving it a modest C- grade, David Ehrlich's review for Indiewire is far less kind to The Fate of the Furious. Many will agree that the franchise has a bit of a rocky history where quality is concerned, but Ehrlich calls it the worst movie that we've seen so far in the series, and says that it even goes as far as to undermine the key themes that have been hammered into audiences for 16 years:
"F8" is the worst of these films since "2 Fast 2 Furious," and it may be even worse than that. It's the "Die Another Day" of its franchise --- an empty, generic shell of its former self that disrespects its own proud heritage at every turn. How did the great F. Gary Gray, whose surprisingly strong remake of "The Italian Job" displayed a tremendous flair for comedic vehicular mayhem, waste the biggest budget of his career on such boring smash-ups? How did Diesel and co. manage to learn all of the wrong lessons from the last two movies, delivering an episode where everything feels so fake that even the "family" matters seem forced?
Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Leah Greenblatt isn't exactly effusive about the film, but does give it a passing grade. In particular, she praises the performances and contributions of both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, who were late additions to the franchises (arriving in Fast Five and Furious 7, respectively), but still wind up stealing the show from Vin Diesel and Co. In her Fate of the Furious review, she wrote:
Thankfully, it's frequently also much funnier and lighter on its feet than previous outings, and a lot of that credit goes to Statham and Johnson, whose love-hate bromance feels like the real core of the movie: Statham revels in his Cockney-you-wish-you'd-never-messed-with shtick, and Johnson is, as always, the human Humvee with a heart of gold: snapping handcuffs in half like breadsticks, bench-pressing cinder blocks for kicks, and lifting opponents by the scruff of the neck as if they were wayward kittens. (He's also super committed to his daughter's soccer team.)
Even with these reviews out in the atmosphere telling audiences that the film isn't exactly the best chapter yet, The Fate of the Furious is a film that will very likely wind up being critic-proof as it arrives in theaters this Friday, April 14th. That being said, have hearing about these reviews changed your expectations for the feature? Hit the comments section below with all of your thoughts, feelings and opinions, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more about the film.