While there are a handful of ridiculously over the top stunts, including one where an endless stream of cars attack a motorcade from land and air, they lack a certain edge that previous films had all their own. Even when Dom’s crew find themselves skidding around the icy plains of Russia while being chased by a torpedo-launching submarine, I felt as though these scenes were shot more for a different franchise. Sure, the silly concept is there, but director F. Gary Gray shoots everything a little too by-the-numbers and needlessly chaotic for a Fast and the Furious movie.
The Fast and the Furious franchise hasn’t come to a screeching halt with this misfire, but I can hear the engine pop and the fuel run out as it sputters towards the finish line. The movie retreats to several easy scenes; funny lines are repeated with less effectiveness (“Daddy’s gotta go to work”), car chases become more cluttered in confusing shots and the witty nature feels more phoned in than natural.
After so many times the series has gotten away with its silly writing and flashy stunts, a big change is needed if this blockbuster franchise hopes to be more than just an easy studio income. There are only so many cars you can throw at the screen before the intentional cheapness of the writing and direction becomes tiresome. And based on how hundreds of cars are smashed up for just one set piece, it’s due for a tune-up.