The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the hit franchise The Fast and the Furious, will explode onto cinema screens across the U.S. on April 14 in a blur of pyrotechnics, car chases, and jaw-dropping stunts. Fans can’t wait to see how the series’s latest director, F. Gary Gray, fares at the helm, or whether the franchise can recover from the loss of its former star Paul Walker, who died during the production of the last film. Well, the reviews are out; critics have a few words on what to expect from the movie.

F8 sees hero Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) take a turn as a virtual antagonist. Tech genius Cipher (Charlize Theron), aided by Frank Petty (Kurt Russell), corrupts him with an initially undisclosed piece of blackmail and forces him to turn against his friends, family, and the world. “Your team is about to go up against the only thing they can’t handle: you,” she says in the trailer. Both Dom’s friends — including Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) — and enemies — including Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) — unite to stop Dom and Cipher from destroying the world.

The general consensus seems to be that F8 is confusing and ludicrous, but enjoyably so. Kinda like all the other Fast & Furious movies, no?

Pretty much everyone is gushing about Johnson, Statham, and Russell. Rolling Stone calls the latter “the always welcome Kurt Russell.” The review doesn’t find the drama with Dom’s team even “remotely believable,” but there’s an upside to his sudden turn:

“It does allow the Rock and Statham to take over the movie, which is a very good thing. These dudes are believable bruisers with a real sense of fun. A little bit of the movie dies when they’re not onscreen.”

Rolling Stone also noted the movie’s widened scope and heightened stakes compared to previous films in the series: “Street races are so 16 years ago. The big thing now is world annihilation, which makes globe trotters of Dom’s street fighters. Cuba, New York, Russia, you name it.” Empire Online thought this “doubling down on daft” was the film’s saving grace:

“This is no longer a down-and-dirty series about lovable carjacking criminals; it’s a globetrotting, scenery-smashing, logic-jacking extravaganza. Fast 8 is more of the same, more or less, with the emphasis heavily on more.”

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Reviewers are calling the stunts and sets extremely impressive, though over the top. Some love that, while others do not. The Independent writes:

“This is loud, garish, two hours-plus proof that bigger, while perpetually entertaining, doesn’t necessarily equate to better.”

The Guardian notes the film’s tendency “to batter you into submission with pyrotechnic set pieces.” But its review was mostly positive:

“The future of the series rests on its ability to find new ways of making cars bash into each other feel somehow novel. For now it’s managing to do that — and the series’ broadening of its action palette is a sensible way of keeping things fresh. But what kept the franchise afloat during those lean times was its melodrama-soaked character moments and, bar some extended relationship turmoil between Dom and Letty, and a couple of nice nods to the late Walker, they’re relatively thin on the ground. Instead this is a big dumb action movie in its purest, most honourable sense: fast, furious and frequently fun.”

While most critics gave mixed reviews, calling the film flawed but entertaining, some had more extreme opinions. Variety said that, of all the movies in the series, F8 “may just be the most spectacular one yet.” On the other hand, IndieWire wrote, “F8 is the worst of these films since 2 Fast 2 Furious, and it may be even worse than that.”

Clearly, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Check out F8 when it arrives this Friday. And to prepare, why not find ways to stream the first seven films?

Photos via Photo by Universal Pictures

Monica Hunter-Hart is a journalist based in New York City. She's originally from Massachusetts, and has written for Paste Magazine, San Francisco Classical Voice, and more.