"How do you continue? How do you redefine yourself? How do you ... defy expectations?"
That's what Fate of the Furious star Vin Diesel mused Wednesday during the Universal Studios presentation from the stage at Cinemacon, where the world's movie theater owners are getting a week's worth of sneaks and first-looks at the biggest summer movies.
After promising that Fate was "the greatest film of all time," Diesel sprung a surprise on the horde of exhibitors and press: a screening of the full movie.
If the guiding principle of the 8th movie in the Fast and Furious series was to defy expectations, it succeeded. Post-Paul Walker, the Furious franchise has skidded out of its lane.
It is careening recklessly towards the James Bond and Mission: Impossible causeways and hitting the gas.
There are plenty of roaring cars and high-speed chases, but they're more integrated with tracking devices, clever diversions, high-tech weapons, espionage tactics and computer screens.
There are probably more computer-screen shots in Fate then even Jason Bourne, and that's saying something. This is a new flavor, for sure. One we'll probably be tasting for a while.
"They'll see this as the beginning of a new trilogy," Diesel said. He is already planning to star in at least two more Furious movies, which are now running out of genres to explore.
We are definitely getting a Fast and Furious in space one day. There will be some supernatural and/or alien-invasion element to the big finale. Or a full-out war. Or worse.
I won't say much more about Fate here (reviews are technically embargoed until next month). I can say it has a few fun surprises chambered, but overall it's just what what we've been expecting.
Dominic Toretto has "gone rogue" — teamed up with Charlize Theron's megalomaniacal superhacker, to be more specific — and the rest of the team is compelled to stop him.
Titans. Will. Clash.
A couple of new characters are introduced, including Scott Eastwood as the sidekick/underling to Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody. Eastwood is carving out his place in Hollywood as the blandsome-white-guy-punching-bag who's trying and failing to be a leader (didn't we see him doing this very thing in Suicide Squad?). But he gets to take part in the final barbecue scene, so he's family now.
There are a couple of other new family members whose emergence I won't spoil. But let's just say that their scenes together are the best thing about 8, hands-down. Fate is also far more willing to kill people than the previous films. But given that the team's shenanigans have now reached a geopolitical scale, that's probably to be expected.
And no, Paul Walker has not been forgotten. It's not the intricate, highly orchestrated goodbye we got in the last movie, but its slyness is satisfying and clever.
"I always feel like Paul is looking down on us," Diesel said. "And we don't want to let him down."
If Walker is a fan of the Bond/Bourne/M:I genre, he's pretty happy right now.