Somewhere in this franchise, there’s a story about how a low-ball street-racer from Los Angeles and his crew can build up a résumé to become super-secret agents who save the planet from total destruction. Like most everything in The Fate of the Furious (a.k.a. Fast and Furious 8), it’s best just to accept this without question.
F. Gary Gray’s actioner finds the gang re-assembling and taking on the cyber-villain Cipher (Charlize Theron), who operates in an undetectable plane (that apparently never needs to land anywhere). Also, steady leader Dom (Vin Diesel) has flipped to the dark side, leaving the racers in the hands of the second-banana big-armed baldie (Dwayne Johnson).
After an amuse-bouche of old-school street-racing in Havana, everybody moves onto spectacular CGI-heavy wreck-o-ramas. One, in Manhattan, involves fleets of driverless cars going bonkers and driving off buildings into writhing metal piles. After the New York bang-up, our heroes get word something villainous is afoot in the Russian Arctic, and — whoosh — they’re there, fully kitted out in parkas and each with his or her own souped-up ride. Roadrunner cartoons have more commitment to plot, and surer adherence to the inviolable laws of time and space.
Fate tries to make up for the previous film’s emotional punch (over which the ghost of recently deceased star Paul Walker hung) with a lot of fan service and winking self-awareness. Eight films in, this is a smart enough play, but doubling down on the familiar — and stretching it out over two hours — puts this film on a continuum between silly fun and tiresome.