Perhaps the single greatest moment in the new trailer for The Fate of the Furious occurs when Charlize Theron’s cyber-terrorist takes control of all the cars in New York City from behind a keyboard, creating a vehicular tsunami that crashes after our favorite car geek heroes. Visually, this blissful 30 seconds does for the series what World War Z did for the zombie genre, except the former boasts a keen sense of self-awareness: Not only does the sheer quantity of cars take the automotive fetishism of prior Fast and the Furious installments to knowingly absurd extremes, but a large portion of the cars are tellingly unmanned. Theron’s Big Bad, rather than hiring human hooligans to put the pedal to the metal, uses her hacking prowess to hijack the systems of various unoccupied cars, creating the odd spectacle of bigger yet literally emptier, which functions as a winking metaphor for the series itself. 16 years and eight movies in, The Fast and the Furious franchise shows no sign of slowing down; what makes the driverless moment so strikingly hilarious is the way it appears to take a dig at the soullessness of the machine, at the corporate push—for more movies, more money—that has no interest in genuine expressions of humanity.
Whether The Fate of the Furious transcends what it lampoons about its own genealogy remains to be seen—the last thing we need is a film that winks without innovating, that has its cake and eats it, too—but if the last three installments are any indication of where the series is going, then the eighth film could very well pull off such a feat. Lightning struck once with Fast Five and then two more times with the sixth and seventh features. All three succeeded by supplementing the usual vehicular mayhem with humor, heart and, ultimately, mayhem that exceeded the usual in terms of scale and stunt work. From the new footage—which, at three minutes, seems to want to proportionally match the film’s envelope-pushing runtime in trailer length—it appears that all these winning ingredients, though not coming across as being terribly original, are present in spades. If the rare alchemy between self-reflexivity and actual virtuosity occurs, then we just might be in for one wild ride.
See the trailer for yourself above, and catch the film when it hits theaters on April 14.