Warning: MAJOR spoilers ahead for The Fate of the Furious! Don't read any further unless you have seen the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise!
The Fast and Furious franchise is a behemoth perpetual motion machine; it just keeps going and picking up momentum as it moves into the modern era. The street racing-turned-heist blockbuster series has gone through some serious changes since it made its debut in 2001, and F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious represents the culmination of that evolution. Having said that, if the Fast and Furious franchise wants to keep evolving and moving forward, there's one particular creative decision that it will need to make in the long run: retiring Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto.
Although it may seem blasphemous to get rid of the face of the series, the mechanics of the Fast and Furious universe make a clean exit for Dom and Letty incredibly plausible. Dom is now a father, and by the logic of the series, that means it's time for him to give up his dangerous lifestyle and focus on being the best possible father to his son. That was the rationale given for why Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) could no longer be part of the franchise, and it could easily carry over and apply to Dom himself. This franchise abides by a clear "circle of life" rule (a code, if you will), and Dom's character has come full circle over the last sixteen years.
Beyond that, one of the biggest flaws with The Fate of the Furious was the overwhelming emphasis on Dom in the first place. The Fast and Furious movies have thrived in recent years because they have made a concerted effort to become more ensemble-oriented stories, but Fate runs in the opposite direction by making Dom's team a reactive force and a secondary element to the story. By doing this, fan-favorites like Hobbs, Roman, Tej, and the rest ultimately felt short-changed in the long run. Dom cannot continue to dominate the team dynamic going forward -- especially if the franchise wants to flesh out its secondary characters and build a more cohesive world.
That transitions neatly into another aspect of Dom's character that feels off within the greater Fast and Furious ensemble: he's no longer a genuinely believable member of the core Fast and Furious team. In the first Fast and Furious movie, Dom was a street-level thug stealing electronics for a modest profit, and that idea worked at the beginning. However, while the other members of the ensemble developed relatively believable skill sets that allowed them to evolve with the franchise (Tej became a computer genius, Brian was a trained FBI agent, Hobbs was a highly skilled U.S Marshal, etc.) Dom's growing skillset has never really been explained by the franchise. He's just an ubermensch who somehow excels at international crime with minimal training. Even for this series that's a hard sell.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to address the uncomfortable fact that Vin Diesel may be holding the Fast and Furious franchise back. His feud with Dwayne Johnson grabbed headlines for months leading up to the release of the film, and new reports have even suggested that Diesel demanded that footage showcasing the rapport between Johnson and Jason Statham be cut from the movie. Between Johnson, Statham, Kurt Russell, and even Helen Mirren, there are increasingly more bankable stars entering the Fast and Furious franchise with each passing installment. Within that growing field of A-list talent, the series may want to drop Diesel to make room for newcomers.
What do you think? Is it time for Dominic Toretto to ride off into the sunset, or should he stick around to lead this crew for the foreseeable future? Give us your thoughts in the comments section!
Does the Fast and Furious franchise still need Vin Diesel?