Every time a new Fast and Furious film comes out it seems a little harder to believe. The little film series that could has taken on a serious life of its own after kicking into high gear with a new writer and director who were able to throttle the mayhem into serious fun. Don’t get me wrong, none of these are high art, nor do they ever pretend to be. But even the eighth entry, The Fate of the Furious, finds plenty of life left in the franchise despite having to fill the hole left by the untimely passing of star Paul Walker. As they say, the show must go on, and when your films start grossing more than $1 billion worldwide, there’s no reason to stop it dead in its tracks.
Catching up with the family, F8 finds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on honeymoon in Cuba. But just wouldn’t you know it, soon enough the conniving Cipher (Charlize Theron) comes calling and blackmails Dom into becoming the team’s biggest conflict yet. Before they know it — Letty, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) — are swept up into a race against time by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) to stop Dom from helping Cipher get her hands on nuclear launch codes from the Russians. But don’t be surprised to find them getting a little help along the way from some familiar faces.
Universal Pictures crashes the Blu-ray party with The Fate of the Furious racing to the finish line with a top tier presentation. Watching the film on my brand new 75” 4K TV makes me only wonder how much better it would look in full 4K. With the 1080p upscaled, it’s still a spectacular sight. Colors are bright without bleeding or blooming, crush never kills shadow delineation, banding is nowhere to be seen, aliasing is AWOL, and details are impeccable. From clothing textures to facial features, everything is on full display. You’re able to count every bead of sweat on Johnson’s head right down to the veins in his ginormous arms.
The DTS:X (downscaled to 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio for myself) track does leave the tiniest bit to be desired. Bass never seems to deliver as it should and you really notice the missing speakers during moments of panning. Directionality, at least, is spot on. And dialogue is never engulfed by the chaotic sound structure or drowned out during explosions or music swells. It may not pack the wallop one would hope — I prefer Dolby Atmos to DTS:X — but it more than gets the job done. Additional audio tracks include Spanish and French (Canada) DTS 5.1, and a DTS Headphone:X option. Subtitles include English SDH, French, and Spanish.
As if the film doesn’t have its own fair share of overkill, the same can be said of The Fate of the Furious’s special features. The only thing not included on the disc is the “Extended Director’s Cut” which is a digital exclusive and comes with a separate download code from the theatrical version. Kicking things off in style is “The Cuban Spirit” (8:04) where we find the cast and crew living it up and loving being the first major motion picture to film in said country. “In the Family” is split into four featurettes: “Betraying the Family: Cipher and Dom” (6:35) where we hear everyone praise the dynamic of Diesel and Theron. It also features the most hilarious line of dialogue when Theron calls screenwriter Chris Morgan an “incredibly smart” writer. The man may know how to write a FF film, but these are far from smart; “Leaderless: A Family Lost” (5:00) covers the plot of Dom going rogue and how each team member reacts; “Shaw Family Values” (3:56) recovers Shaw’s newly disclosed background, how he may not be such a bad guy after all, and the dynamics of working with the one and only Helen Mirren; “Meet the Nobodys” (5:45) shows how much fun Russell and Eastwood had working on the film, something that’s clearly obvious onscreen.
“Car Culture” has three sections: “The Hero Cars of Fast” (10:24) goes into way too much detail about the cars featured in the film — at least for the less car-enthused fan; “Zombie Cars” (5:35) displays the practical elements that went into creating one of the film’s action centerpieces; “The Ripsaw” (5:22) is a fun piece where we get to see the Army vehicle in indestructible action. “All About the Stunts” is self explanatory and showcases three of the biggest set pieces: “Malecon Street Race” (6:15), “Iceland Stunt Diaries” (6:45), and “The Streets of New York” (5:27). “Extended Fight Scenes” are two longer versions of “Prison Fight” (3:01) and “Plane Fight.” The best part of these being able to watch Statham slip back into Transporter mode and kick some major ass. Finally, director F. Gary Gray delivers an in-depth “Audio Commentary” offering up the usual behind-the-scenes tidbits and insights.
The Fate of the Furious continues to prove the franchise knows exactly what it is and continues to deliver exactly what we want. Lots of ’splosions, fist fights, and fast cars. You’re never left wanting more so long as you know what to expect, and given the film’s worldwide box office take we still love the franchise, even if that little piece may be missing with Walker gone. Fate’s Blu-ray shows Universal loves the franchise with demo-worthy video and excellent, if not top notch audio, and shovels a plethora of special features down our throats to boot.
There’s no denying the films still have plenty of fun in the pipeline which is good news considering there are at least two more headed our way. If they can keep the momentum going, this will wind up as one of the most successful franchises of all time. Fans will never question whether to pick the film up on Blu-ray or 4K and will not be disappointed.