When The Fast and the Furious debuted in 2001, it captivated audiences with its nitrous-boosted street-racing, gravity-defying heists, and basic popcorn movie awesomeness. As the popular franchise has stretched to an eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious, the ability to keep outdoing its predecessors would seem at this point an impossible feat.
Over the past 16 years, Vin Diesel and company have tried to keep things interesting with increasingly amped-up stunts, an array of location shoots, an ever-growing cast of characters, and whatever crazy plot twists they can come up with. Packing in all of those elements has led to some expanded running times, with Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 clocking in at 2 hours and 10 minutes, as opposed to the earlier films’ average of about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Furious 7 held audiences captive for 2 hours and 17 minutes, but the increased time included a poignant epilogue to the late Paul Walker and his character Brian O’Conner. Now it looks as though The Fate of the Furious will be creating some scheduling challenges for theaters with the longest running time yet. CinemaRX is listing the eighth sequel with a runtime of 160 minutes.
When the first trailer for The Fate of the Furious was released late last year, it was clear there was going to be a lot more going on than just some epic car chase scenes — though it does have those as well. The headline has been that Vin Diesel’s Dom has gone rogue, pairing up with Charlize Theron’s terrorist character Cipher. An imprisoned Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his arch-enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) get released and recruited by the CIA’s Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), to join up with Dom’s “family” to take down their former leader.
There’s clearly a lot to cover, especially with recent news that Helen Mirren’s previously secret role is as Shaw’s mother. Viewers could be treated to a complicated tale of family drama and revenge, one that star Diesel feels may rise well above previous Fast & Furious outings and actually earn an Academy Award. With acclaimed director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) at the helm, this definitely could be one of the franchise’s most narratively ambitious installments.
The danger of that 2 hour 40 minute screentime is that all the location-jumping, explosions, and plot spinning could start to feel like overkill. Even the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was criticized for dragging on with multiple endings. While The Fate of the Furious thankfully doesn’t push past the 3-hour mark, the filmmakers may still find they’ve overestimated the patience of audiences just looking for some entertainingly unrealistic car chases and fistfights. If the movie does manage to hold everyone’s attention for that long, however, maybe it will deserve that Oscar after all.