Not content with towing a safe through the streets of Rio, drag racing a plane, or jumping a car from one skyscraper to another, the #FastandFurious franchise returns to screens to wow us once again — and this time, it's personal.
OK, it's personal every single time thanks to the franchise's endearing obsession with family, but The Fate of the Furious (a.k.a Fast 8) fires up the nitro to slam us with the most heart-wrenching plot twist yet: Dom Toretto's betrayal.
So how exactly does the villain Cipher coerce Dom to betray his family? And what's her grand plan? For those who aren't obsessive about these films — maybe you didn't see one chapter, or have forgotten a character like Elena Neves, who becomes important this time around — a quick, nay, a Fast refresher is in order.
Join us as we untangle the complex plot lurking beneath the adrenaline-pumping, gravity-defying action: This is Fast and Furious 8, explained. We'll keep this version spoiler free, but if you'd like a more detailed breakdown, it's right here.
Dom would have to have a pretty good reason to turn his back on his Fast fam, and indeed he does. The extraordinarily talented cybercriminal Cipher, played by Charlize Theron, is pulling his strings. Theron's digital puppet master has an amazingly complex master plan, one that deftly ties into the other films of the franchise.
In fact, a bit of clever retconning works to insert Cipher deep into the Fast saga; according to this chapter, she's actually been part of the story since the very beginning. Thanks to that detail, #Fast8 becomes a satisfying payoff with twists that add new contexts to some of the franchise's most exciting plots.
Before we get to Cipher, however, let's look back at the history of the series' great romance: Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz.
Vin Diesel's driver, introduced in The Fast and the Furious way back in 2001, originally ran an auto garage and a street racing team that also doubled as a highway heist crew. His ladylove Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) was by his side in those days and they formed the nucleus of the Fast family.
But Letty was supposedly killed in the fourth movie, Fast & Furious. During the period when she was "dead," Dom kinda sorta fell in love with Elena Neves, played by Elsa Pataky, a Rio cop working with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Agent Hobbs. Eventually, of course, Letty was found to be alive, and Elena graciously stood aside so that Dom and Letty could race into the future together — or at least side by side, in their respective muscle cars of love.
So what's up with the new plot? Ultimately, Cipher doesn't want Dom on her side because she needs his fantastic skills as a driver, or because she has a thing for multicultural, perpetually glistening, bald muscle-bound men. No, the hacking queen has another agenda, and although she does need Dom to help her enact her plan, secretly this is her way of getting revenge. And that's where the retcons come in.
Remember the Nightshade device from Fast & Furious 6? What about God's Eye from Furious 7? The last two movies in the franchise featured the Fast fam trying to stop unbelievably powerful and dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands — and obviously the best way to achieve this was to drive their cars really, really fast, sometimes out of planes.
In Fast & Furious 6, Owen Shaw (played by Luke Evans) was after the Nightshade device, a kind of EMP that would kill military tech dead for 24 hours, leaving them blind and vulnerable to attack. In Furious 7, the crew was hired by Mr. Nobody (a glorious Kurt Russell) to steal a program called God's Eye, along with its creator Ramsey, from the mercenary Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). God's Eye allows a user to locate anyone in any location on Earth. Handy for finding those people who always bail on your plans to do other stuff, and probably also for crime.
The Fate of the Furious brings those two gadgets into the new plot. Honestly, this is a really impressive retcon, meaning Fate ties into two previous films that might otherwise have only been loosely connected.
The series has achieved fan-favorite status in part because a new character in one movie often carries forward to become a major player in later films. So Roman Pearce and Tej Parker, played respectively by Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris in original sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, became constant supporting characters starting in the fourth movie, as did Han, Sung Kang's character in threequel Tokyo Drift. Most recently, Owen Shaw's brother Deckard Shaw (played by Jason Statham) is being folded into the main roster after making a cameo appearance at the end of Fast & Furious 6.
Some of these ties draw even closer in The Fate of the Furious and Cipher even suggests she's had her eye on Dom for a long time. She mentions "living a quarter mile at a time," a quote adapted from the first movie. Either Cipher's done her research (highly likely — she's a hacker! She has access to all information in human history!), or she has been part of Dom's life for much, much longer than we thought. That's a nice idea, but it's not confirmed by the movie — and it's difficult to imagine Cipher caring much about stolen DVD players, which is what the team were after in the first film. Ah, look how far they've come!
And you know what? We want to leave a bit of mystery for the film so we won't spoil too much. Suffice it to say, all Cipher wants is power and influence — the Nightshade device and God's Eye would give her a lot of sway over the world's governments, which ultimately is what she wants to achieve, and what she's after in Fast and Furious 8 plays into that. But you'll just have to watch the movie to find out exactly how Cipher intends to exact her plan, whether she succeeds, and not merely whether they neatly set up a sequel, but how the new #Family members guide the crew's future.