Grumpy racers unite! The Fate of the Furious cast.

This has the potential to be most superfluous review I’ll write this year. Those who are excited for the next installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, called The Fate of the Furious, or F8 for short, will see the film regardless of what critics say.  Although I love action flicks, I don’t care about having cars, boob and bum close-ups, huge muscles, or racing, as part of my cinematic experience.  However, a surprising number of moviegoers, representing nearly every demographic, do.  If a movie is going to have all of those aforementioned elements, why not lean into it and dedicate a franchise to it? While at it, why not build that franchise with the most diverse cast in front of the camera, and most diverse filmmakers behind the camera, and create history if it becomes successful?

If you’ve never seen a Fast and Furious film, but you routinely go see Bond flicks or buddy movies, you should actually consider seeing this new installment. As a film critic who supports women in film and diversity, I’ll tell you why.

Regardless of the subject matter, the inclusive nature of the film has expanded to include more women of power, and the entire series affirms the fact that diversity in front and behind the camera can be a powerful advantage. The last installment brought in over 1.5 billion dollars, with two thirds of the total made from international ticket sales. Coincidentally, the American audience showed the same percentage, two thirds, of non-whites supporting the film.

Hollywood, are you listening? Multiculturalism sells. As filmgoers, we should support teaching that to the powers that be creating movies. No one questions how silly and unbelievable these movies are, including the new one, but if you’re going to have big boobs and big booms, can’t they come with big advancements in onscreen diversity?

F8 benefits from the considerable muscle of the top actors in the action field. It stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, as well as Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ludacris.  They’ve added Scott Eastwood, looking scarily like his dad Clint did in the 60s, to the lineup. Very little makes sense in F8, but that’s in keeping with the rest of the franchise.  We are bounced between bro-banter, declarations of love, friendship, and fidelity. There are promises of ass-kickings, fingers clicking away on computer keyboards while wall-to-wall high-tech surveillance monitors blink in the background, and car chases that incorporate explosions and fiery crashes, . You know, the uje.

This time around, they add two Oscar-winning actresses to the mix. Charlize Theron as Cipher is the first female villain in the F&F series. She is a bit of a caricature, with her blond dreadlocks, stalking her flying lair brandishing firepower, and barking orders. Still, as one-dimensional as Theron’s Cipher is, she is smart, in charge, and the driving factor of how the story unfolds.

Dame Helen Mirren mentioned she loved racing and wanted to be part of the franchise, and BLAM! A role was created for her. That’s the kind of power in Hollywood we’d love all talented A-lister women to have, especially those over 40! Never mind the women in non-featured roles, who dress up the scenery in their various states of undress. They are essentially sexualized props with heartbeats. At least those with lines, who factor in the storyline, are badass women who can more than keep up with the men. ‘Babe’ steps, I guess.

It’s true that if even one person had been actually mowed down in one of the car chase scenes, where they drive through open air markets and over sidewalks, the film would take on an entirely different atmosphere.  With all the violence and terrorism happening in the world these days, it’s hard not to think of the times that’s happened…but don’t let my flirtation with realism be your buzzkill.  You know what you’re in for when you buy this ticket. It’s a dizzying fantasy ride, with precious little meaningful dialogue. Only you know if it’s worth the trip.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars