Action Blu-ray Review

'The Fate of the Furious' Blu-ray Review: Ambitions to be the next 'Bond' fuel the latest installment of the 'Fast' franchise

July 11, 2017Ben MK

Like the 007 film franchise, the Fast & Furious series' affinity for fast cars and beautiful women is well known. And like Bond — whose globetrotting exploits have generally grown increasingly preposterous with the passage of time — recent Fast & Furious movies have embraced grandiose spectacle on a global scale, a trend that continues — unsurprisingly — into the series' eighth installment.

Last we left Vin Diesel and co., Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) had finally regained her memory after nearly perishing in Fast Five and spending most of Fast & Furious 6 working for British bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans); the crew dealt a crushing blow to Shaw and his older brother, Deckard (Jason Statham); and they gained a new ally in the form of a hacktivist named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who helped them recover a powerful counterintelligence weapon called the God's Eye for a shadowy government agent known only as Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell).

So, how can The Fate of the Furious possibly top that? The film begins in low gear, with Dom (Diesel) and Letty enjoying, for all intents and purposes, a well-deserved and long-overdue second honeymoon in Cuba. However, fate soon intervenes when a cyber-terrorist calling herself Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up out of nowhere, blackmailing Dom to do the unthinkable by betraying his family and joining her ranks. As you probably already guessed, he does; and, as a result, the formerly tight-knit crew find themselves in hot pursuit of one of their own.

The result is equal parts entertaining and frustrating. The action set-pieces are over-the-top, but they're too few and far between; Theron's "Big Bad" falls flat when compared to Mad Max: Fury Road's Imperator Furiosa; even the humor, a welcome trademark of the series, has started to lose its edge. Overall, director F. Gary Gray and screenwriter Chris Morgan still manage to get some mileage of this latest adventure. But if this is the fate of the Fast & Furious, then perhaps the franchise should have jammed on the brakes after lucky number seven.

The Fate of the Furious roars onto Blu-ray firing on all cylinders, providing stay-at-home movie lovers and hardcore cinemaphiles alike with plenty to gawk at. Whether it's the sun-baked climate of Havana or the urban landscape of New York City, image quality is rock-solid, bolstered by vibrant hues and a powerful DTS:X sound mix that fills the air with the familiar sounds of revving engines, screeching tires, fiery explosions and automatic gunfire. To truly appreciate this presentation, however, there are a few standout sequences that best demonstrate the disc's technical merits; namely, the Cuban street race that opens the film, the mid-movie demolition derby involving a horde of hacked smart-vehicles, and the climactic finale that pits cars against a nuclear submarine.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy (featuring a digital-only Extended Director's Cut of the movie), a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • The Cuban Spirit (8:04) - A look at what it took for The Fate of the Furious to become the first major studio film to shoot in Havana, Cuba, from the culture, to the cars, to the crew.
  • In the Family (21:16) - Four featurettes that focus on how the Fast family react to Dom's act of betrayal, as well as the characters played by Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Luke Evans, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood ("Betraying the Family: Cipher and Dom," "Leaderless: A Family Lost," "Shaw Family Values" and "Meet the Nobodys").
  • Car Culture (21:21) - Three featurettes spotlighting the movie's vehicles, from Dom's Dodge Tantrum Charger to Tej's Army Ripsaw tank, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a key action sequence ("The Hero Cars of Fast," "Zombie Cars" and "The Ripsaw").
  • All About the Stunts (18:27) - Three featurettes that offer a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film's opening street race, the climactic finale, and the logistics and challenges of shooting a car chase in a busy metropolis like New York City ("Malec√≥n Street Race," "Iceland Stunt Diaries" and "The Streets of New York").
  • Extended Fight Scenes (5:03) - Extended versions of two of the movie's hand-to-hand combat sequences ("Extended Prison Fight" and "Extended Planet Fight").
  • Feature Commentary with Director F. Gary Gray - Gray thanks the crew and talks about filming in Cuba, his favorite moments in the movie, the storyline, the actors' performances and their chemistry together, the vehicles, the stunts and the fight choreography, and more.

The Fate of the Furious is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of July 11th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS:X and DTS Headphone:X, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 16 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on April 14th, 2017.

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