I always say that, anything that a movie explains in the first twenty minutes or so, people will buy into, because that is when your brain is trying to figure out what you are watching. So, with sci-fi movies, they explain the fantasy elements right away, so you believe that this guy was bitten by a radioactive spider or is from Krypton or whatever. And with space movies, there is still the element of "this is another planet, so this is different from what I'm used to". So, even if they take a little longer than twenty minutes to explain The Force, you buy into it because they established that you were in a galaxy far, far away...right away.
'Fate of the Furious', the 8th installment in the series, takes place on Earth, with cars, weapons and countries that we are all familiar with. This makes the fantasy elements, the laws of physics that they ignore, both with the car chase scenes and with how strong Dwayne Johnson's character is, far less believable than Yoda fighting Count Dooku. The saving grace, however, is how this movie knows what it is and does not try to be anything other than silly. So, if you shut off your brain and laugh at how over-the-top it is, you will have a great time.
The main characters are very likable, despite being played by actors who would be terrible in anything except this series or a music video. Again, the producers know what kind of movie this is and have given us two good actors to raise the credibility of the cast as a whole. Charlize Theron is great as the villain in this and even makes human Groot Vin Diesel look like a better actor than he is in other scenes. Kurt Russell is also great, playing a government agent. My low opinion of Tyrese Gibson as an actor has improved, but I give credit to the writers and director of this movie for making him the butt of the jokes all the time. It made me feel that I am not the only one who finds him irritating.
A lot of characters are the butts of jokes, as this movie was clearly made for a bunch of guys who like cars to sit around and bust each others chops while watching it. Dwayne Johnson has some funny one liners (including one about a toothbrush) and there is a scene at the end with Jason Statham that was legitimately hilarious. I'm not going to spoil it, but he's protecting something and it's funny. I dare you not to laugh. Or go "awwwwww!"
There is a decent story holding this all together, about Vin Diesel's character being blackmailed into going back to his old criminal life from the first movie. There are a few surprises and the characters explain what you need to know from previous films in order to go along. If you forgot that Paul Walker's character's name was Brian, you might be confused when he is referenced. (The actor passed away shortly before the 7th film was released, but the character just went home to his family.) But everything else leads up to a plot twist that I honestly did not see coming. I gave them credit for surprising me, allowing me to enjoy the ridiculously fun climax with cars running away from a submarine (on ice) that was shown in the trailers.
All-in-all, if you shut off your brain and can enjoy the over-the-top madness, Fate of the Furious is a good time at the movies. I give it 3 nuclear subs out of 5.
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