Reviews for The Fate of the Furious are starting to trickle in and they’re mixed with a slight lean toward the positive. The Fast and Furious franchise sped out of the gate in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, a muscle car action thriller that powered the careers of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and took in $144.5 million at the domestic box office. As Diesel bowed out of the next two Furious films to concentrate on other projects, the Furious films appeared to be a doomed franchise when third movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift earned a series low $62.5 million domestically in 2006.
Things quickly rebounded with Diesel’s return in Fast and Furious in 2009, and the series has been on the upswing ever since. The addition of such rising stars as Gal Gadot and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson helped turn the following Furious films into a billion-dollar franchise, culminating with the blockbuster success of Furious 7 in 2015. Earning $1.5 billion worldwide and $353 million domestically, the film was undoubtedly the most emotional Furious film to date as it was forced to confront the tragic loss of Walker.
On the heels of its surprise screening and positive early reactions at CinemaCon, The Fate of the Furious is under pressure to deliver big – and judging by the early reviews, the eighth Furious film is a bit middling.
On the positive side, Variety calls the film – which adds Charlize Theron as a villain – “an action spectacle that proves this franchise is far from out of gas”; and MovieWeb says the film is “a crazy, insane action masterpiece that takes the franchise to new heights.” Uproxx also calls the movie “insane” in its spoiler-headlined review, but also criticizes the movie, saying it sometimes drags during its 2 hour 16 minute run time.
Forbes, on the other hand, dings the latest installment of the hot rod franchise, saying, “For much of its running time, Fate of the Furious goes against what has made the franchise so enjoyable of late.” It also calls the film “disappointing” and “stuck in neutral.”
Perhaps the most damning early review comes from IndieWire. After praising the first 10 minutes of the movie, the review downshifts and eventually gets ugly:
“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.”
Whether the reviews of The Fate of the Furious come to help or harm its opening weekend box office tally is a question that will be answered in a week. This much is known: as the franchise has reveled more and more in its ridiculousness, the Furious movies have turned into a critic-proof series. By the sound of what reviewers are saying both positive and negative, The Fate of the Furious promises to give fans the sort of outlandish entertainment they’ve come to expect. Maybe a Furious tale in space really could be next?