The Fate of the Furious

 photo fate_of_the_furious_ver2_zpsldq9ohik.jpg photo starrating-3stars.jpgThe Fate of the Furious begins with a street race in Havana.  It’s a nice traditional nod to the kind of quaintly illegal activities that started this franchise during much simpler times. Of course, the preposterous storylines and feats of skill are the real joy for which this series is known. It’s the bizarre action set pieces that have come to define these pictures. That mentality that has made each entry such a delight for some and something for others to eschew.  The latter of which attest to never having seen any of these films like it’s a badge of honor.  I, conversely, have seen all eight and I freely admit this without shame.

Yet how do you assess a movie where the sillier and more unbelievable the stunts, the better? Let’s start with the cast. The ensemble for each has always been a revolving door. Even characters that you thought had been written out of the series for good without the possibility of a return, have been known to pop back into the continuity. Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez, and Kurt Russell are back. Newcomers Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, and Charlize Theron are fresh additions. This is the first chapter since Tokyo Drift not to include Paul Walker due to his untimely passing. His presence is missed. Jordana Brewster who played his wife does not return either.

This elite crew operates outside the law for the greater good. These criminals are bound together by a sense of loyalty. This extended clan are more than just friends, they’re family. In particular, Dom, Vin Diesel’s character, reminds us of this over and over again. That camaraderie has held this macho action soap opera together. This screenplay actually plays with that narrative a bit by having one of their own betray the others by working with the baddies. Who and why would be spoilers. That big twist should be revealed by watching this production. I will only offer though that it’s a risky move that isn’t entirely successful. The whole gang united together against the fight of evil has always been a key component of the drama. By tinkering with the formula the story removes a dependable quality that is missing from the story.

F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) takes over the directing duties from James Wan (The Conjuring). Interesting footnote: The Fate of the Furious reunites Gray with actors Charlize Theron and Jason Statham from The Italian Job, which came out back in 2003. The last movie, Furious 7, was extremely successful. Usually, it’s important to evaluate a film on its own merits without comparing it to other pictures. However, in the case of a franchise, I think it’s more than acceptable, it’s required. We are now eight chapters deep into this chronicle. Fast Five is where everything really came together, serving up a captivating recipe that mixes the genial friendship of a charismatic cast with outlandish stunts that wow audiences. That’s where the franchise really came into its own under Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond). He is the only filmmaker so far to direct more than one episode (parts 3-6). We should acknowledge how each new adventure measures up with the others. I think The Fate of the Furious transcends parts 2-4 but is less effective than the last 3 (episodes 5-7).

The first low-budget feature about street racing has gradually morphed over time into a big budget action extravaganza where driving cars is more of a detour. I’ve grown to enjoy this series as a whole. Still, I’ll admit that after eight entries, these sagas do start to blend together. It’s the stunts that I remember. This installment throws in a few doozies. Charlize Theron is a surprisingly generic villain, although the mayhem she causes is anything but. As cyberterrorist Cipher, she does a bit of hacking that causes a fleet of cars to high-dive off parking structures and essentially attacks a motorcade driving through the city. This implausible sequence in New York is my favorite moment simply because it’s just so ridiculous. Hobbs & Deckard’s prison break/fight sequence is memorable as well. Ditto the final race across an icy terrain from a nuclear submarine popping out of the frozen waters. Helen Mirren, Jason Statham and especially a baby are the most welcome personalities. Oh and there’s a nice nod to Paul Walker’s character at the end. All in all, it’s a rousing good time.

04-13-17

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15 Responses to “The Fate of the Furious”

  1. I think franchise fatigue has set in officially. However, I would not mind seeing a Johnson/Statham team-up movie. I think that has much more juice and intrigue.

    • I think what happens to Vin Diesel’s character is a big mistake. It trashed a personality for which this franchise is known.

      I’m not ready to give up on these characters just yet. But we need to get back to basics = the core “family” working together.
      Entries 5-7 are perfect examples on how to proceed.

  2. fun review.. I would however, love to see it go back to the street racing films they once were.. they were fun. Now they think they are James Bond. ha!

  3. Martin1250 Says:

    Nice to see your review for this franchise. I remember watching Fast Five in the theaters and enjoying it so much to the point of giving it full credit – 5 stars in your blog. Still, all the chapters are entertaining enough to gain curiosity for the next part.

    • Agreed. The Fate of the Furious is entertaining, although a step down from the last three. I’m amazed this has made so much money overseas. It’s on trend to do over a billion dollars in international box office ALONE perhaps even beating the $1.1billion of Furious 7.

  4. Pretty harmless, however, these movies are getting pretty ridiculous. The characters are no longer human. They are almost superheroes. Charlize’ character was very corny. The baby was the star. 3 1/2 stars. 1/2 star for the baby.

  5. Man this series really has a big tank of gas and inexhaustible wheels(pardon the pun). Nice review as always Mark.

  6. “Of course, the preposterous storylines and feats of skill are the real joy for which this series is known.” You said it brother! Haha. Personally I think it sucks that Jordana Brewster essentially has to be written out because Paul Walker is gone. I’d love to get her back and have the writers use the excuse that Bryan has become a stay-at-home dad. I agree that turning Dom into a bad guy isn’t entirely successful. Messing with the formula does remove a dependable quality from the story. I also concur that this chapter is less effective than the last couple. Given how outrageous this franchise is, I found this one tamer than I expected regarding the action. I was expecting way more over-the-top moments. That said, like you, I dug the car hacking scene, the prison break, and the final race against the submarine.

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