Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Dan Nicholls0
The Fate of the Furious
While you’re forced to avoid plotholes as if they were potholes, The Fate of the Furious delivers what you’d expect — dumb fun and spectacle.
The Fate of the Furious wears both its heart and a NOS tank on its sleeve. It strikes a weird but complementary tone: The word “family” is spoken 16 times (by my count, at least) and Ludacris drives a tank while being chased by a submarine. If you’ve ever seen one of these movies before then you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into here.
This inexplicable eighth installment in a series that just will not die is once again led with confidence and heart by the patron saint of street racing, Vin Diesel. Sporting his trademark silver cross and white tank top he commands his scenes and goes full throttle (for better or worse). He goes from driving a burning car backwards to pulling off some sweet tricks bro on a big-ass snowboard ramp (in a car, of course, this thankfully isn’t xXx,).
Kids born when the first movie came out can get their drivers licenses now. The clock keeps ticking and this series still has a lot of gas left in the tank — and a lot of common sense on how to keep up with the times. The Fast flicks have gone from Ja Rule to Helen Mirren, after all. What The Fate of the Furious lacks in storytelling grace and wit it compensates for with one preposterous spectacle after another. The appeal of the series is bound to thrive for a while still.
It can’t be denied that this is a series that plays to its strengths. There’s a reason why Vin Diesel is a major player here and in practically no other movie outside of this franchise. And its varied and talented extended cast works wonders in the chemistry department even when they’re given the stupidest shit to do and say.
Sure the movie is dumb. Of course it’s dumb. These movies always have been and always will be. That doesn’t excuse The Fate of the Furious’s narrative sins, but the movie kind of does exactly what you think it would do. You get what you paid for here and the ride isn’t guaranteed to be smooth — you’re gonna have to dodge a few plotholes along the way.
While enjoying a honeymoon in Cuba with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), our bald eagle of a hero Dominic Toretto (Diesel) gets persuaded by a cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron) to help fulfill her plans of worldwide destruction. Cipher’s got a “surprise” that twists Dom to the dark side, but it’s extremely predictable if you’ve ever seen a soap opera in your life. It won’t be given away here but you’ll probably figure it out after some heavy handed foreshadowing in the first five minutes. The next Fast movie is probably going to feature a set of evil twins at this rate.
Because Dom’s the baddest badass of them all it’s up to the super elite forces of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his friends to hunt down their erstwhile “brother”. Jason Statham’s villain from Furious 7, Deckard Shaw, is brought into the fold as an ally by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to help in the chase. Despite the fact that Shaw killed the series’ best character ever, Han (pour one out for Sung Kang’s smooth drifter), he is for some unexplainable reason more or less embraced by the group eventually. This is a prime example of the film’s nonsensical logic at its dumbest.
With so many films and such (nearly) consistent visual style, it can be easy to forget which scenes were from which movies in the series. There really isn’t a lot indistinguishable between the fourth, sixth, and seventh movies, minus the latter’s heartfelt Paul Walker sendoff (his character, Brian, is mentioned briefly). The Fast and the Furious hit movie screens as a surprise hit in 2001 and was followed by two oddities of franchise extensions. Only Fast Five truly stands the test of time; that 2011 flick hit every spot exactly right, it’s a damn near perfect action film.
Being loud and dumb is where this series succeeds in spite of itself. For all the groan-worthy dialogue and physics-defying, VFX-assisted stunts, The Fate of the Furious still manages to be a bit more heartening than it perhaps has any right to be. There’s melodrama galore but it at least works in favor of the plot instead of being superfluous to the adventures.
The cast can’t be faulted for showing up, doing their thing, and cashing those giant paycheques. Dwayne Johnson has enough charisma to last a lifetime and it’s enticing to imagine the series reborn with Hobbs as the protagonist. The most bewildering performance in the movie has to belong to Kurt Russell — the guy looks like he just rolled up a fat joint and got the giggles in a major way. He doesn’t seem to give a damn and it’s sort of hilarious to watch.
Series newcomer F. Gary Gray directs the smaller moments with efficiency and keeps things moving at a decent speed. He’s intelligent enough to know the quickest way to get in and out without bogging down the proceedings, which is a fair accomplishment given the film’s 136-minute runtime. While Gray’s most commonly known for films like Friday and Straight Outta Compton, it’s of note that he also directed 2003’s exciting crowd pleaser The Italian Job (which also featured Theron). It isn’t hard to imagine more action-oriented pictures to come from Gray.
The Fate of the Furious isn’t going to convert any non-believers and it won’t disappoint the Toretto faithful, of which there are many. I think it settles respectably high on the rankings of the Furious films. Other than the stellar Five and perhaps the original that started it all, Fate might be the most purely enjoyable of the bunch. There are elements of its predecessors that surpass many of the qualities here but this one’s a perhaps a bit more even overall thanks to its comparatively high concept.