The Fate of the Furious, 2017.
Directed by F. Gary Gray.
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Luke Evans, and Charlize Theron.
When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.
Oh boy, here we go, take a shot of whatever drink is in your hand for every time I mention family.
You don’t need a review to know what to expect from The Fate of the Furious, the latest addition to the 16-year spanning street racing turned carmageddon/government chaos action franchise; It’s another rush to save the world where every action and decision is made accounting for the idea of family. How fitting that a movie compromised of about 90 minutes of destruction and another 40 minutes that are cheesy lectures on the importance of never turning your back on the loved ones closest to you release on Easter weekend. One can say there is a method to the delightful madness Vin Diesel is unleashing.
The word “family” is going to get thrown around in this review as much as how many zombie cars (yes, that’s a thing in this gloriously batshit insane popcorn flick) get destroyed as if they were just ants being stomped on, because every single plot point of this movie comes down to someone’s mother, brother, sister, son, lover, etc in peril. The movies are basically parodies of themselves at this point (Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto even has a tongue-in-cheek line about keeping the proceedings strictly about the cars), indulging and embracing every little element moviegoers and fans of the series talk up. Diesel knows his audience; we want things to get dumber, louder, more nonsensical, and somehow even more about family, which in theory should make the movie terrible, but this franchise continues to be an anomaly. The stupider it gets, the better.
With that said, stupid does not equate to crap. The central plot for The Fate of the Furious sees Dominic going rogue on his team (a.k.a. his family) for a reason that people should see coming, but probably won’t (let’s just say that Vin Diesel is both excellent and obsessive with tying up every loose end in the franchise). This allows for two things – A: a nasty, absolute bitch of a terrorist villain played by Charlize Theron (people will not be prepared for how evil her actions and performance are) and B: Dwayne Johnson effortlessly jumping into the role as family leader and protagonist.
Even though it is a bit baffling how quickly Dominic just sort of surrenders and turns himself over to the aforementioned icy-hearted villainess, it works simply because the script (written by Chris Morgan) and direction from Straight Outta Compton‘s F. Gary Gray know exactly how to take that charisma that The Rock has brought from WWE with him to the sink or swim world of Hollywood acting, and dial it up to 20 making for not just outrageous moments in battle, but perfectly delivered laugh out loud one-liners. Furthermore, credit Jason Statham from being able to handle his own, going one-on-one with the great one in verbal and physical shenanigans. They’re like step brothers forced to get along and work together for the greater good of humanity, and it’s an absolute joy to behold.
If there is one area where The Fate of the Furious stands head and shoulders above other entries in the franchise, it is definitely from the supporting cast being blessed with the opportunity to collectively take on the role of a star. It’s also not very surprising, as Vin Diesel actually seems like one of the least selfish actors in the game; flipping the script and transforming him into a pseudo-antagonist works, even though it came across supremely outlandish to accept even for this series in the trailer.
Unfortunately, many of the large-scale action sequences are a bit of a letdown in execution despite unmatched vehicular imagination. There’s a section dealing with a giant wrecking ball swatting away cars as it sways back and forth down the street, but it just happens. There is no build up or debriefing, rather tossing audiences straight into the fire. The same goes for the zombie cars, although that one just feels like it never really reaches its true potential. Now, for those of you getting a little disheartened that things have taken a bit of a negative turn, the third act stretch out in the Arctic is quite possibly the strongest 30 minutes of insanity we have seen yet. Outside of torpedoes and heat seeking missiles tearing up the icy ground, one character is tasked with obtaining a very precious package. It’s freaking awesome, and that’s all I’m saying.
The only other nuisance is the ear-grating soundtrack filled from beginning to end with autotuned hip-hop and rap that is neither catchy nor adds anything to any given scene. Technically, it does fit the culture and style the films are going for, but that isn’t stopping my ears from bleeding every time some piece of mainstream pop garbage comes on. Also, a case can be made that a few moments of the movie drag due to itself trying to justify different things regarding the plot.
Admittedly, it was a little concerning that the franchise was going to continue beyond the tragic real-life death of Paul Walker, but for as long as Vin Diesel is on board, the ship is being steered in the right direction. The movie never once feels as if it’s disgracing Paul by going beyond a seventh film, but rather still finds ways to honor his contributions to the series. Sidestepping that dangerous pit, The Fate of the Furious turns out to be another action spectacle filled with unforgettable moments of craziness. It’s also the performance of Dwayne Johnson’s career thus far.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★