The Fate of the Furious
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson
The ‘Fate’ of the series is secure. There will always be an audience for these films regardless of what implausibility they launch on screen or how poorly the actors deliver their lines. Universal’s mammoth franchise has even started to pull in Oscar winners like Charlize Theron (“Mad Max”) and Helen Mirren (“The Woman in Gold”) , not that it improves the intelligence of the script. Like any series that begins to run out of ideas, this installment goes down the “turn one of the team into a bad guy” plot. We’ve seen this in Avengers, X-Men, every television show lasting over five seasons. The more sequels ‘Furious’ spits out, the closer these movies get to “Mission Impossible” or “James Bond”. It’s no longer about racing, for the last few movies, it’s simply another summer tent pole about saving the world. Ad nauseam.
While on honeymoon in Havana, moments after Letty (Rodriguez) mentions having children, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is pulled to the dark side by a mysterious woman known only as Cipher (Theron). She uses his sacred love of family against him to aid her organization in acquiring nuclear weapons. The remaining team must work together, including nemesis Deckard (Statham), to disrupt Cipher’s plan of worldwide weapons control. Letty refuses to believe Dom would abandon her or harm the team, but can’t understand what leverage Cipher has over their fearsome leader.
It’s no longer about racing, for the last few movies, it’s simply another summer tent pole about saving the world.
The film opens with the colorful sights and sounds of beautiful Havana, Cuba, yet the beauty is overshadowed by the brute stupidity of the script and some mindless race for ownership of a rusty car. Never shy of globe trotting, especially the vivid locations of the previous film, we disappointingly end up in New York City. “Before I throw up in my mouth, what are we doing here,” Roman (Gibson) questions. What unfolds is the first of many dopey stunts, starting with Theron’s campy acting, dread-lock wearing villain taking control of all the cars in Manhattan (new electronic models or not) and driving them in whichever direction she chooses. “Make is rain,” she says as cars begin falling from the sky at her whim.
A heavy amount of screen time is once again given to the mutual hate between Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard, but in true soap opera fashion, one episode you’re mortal enemies, the next you are teaming up to save the day. Paul Walker’s character Brian does get a mention, Helen Mirren has an unusual cameo, while familiarity with the previous versions (especially the last one) is essential for many plot developments and some of the jokes. The final act feels like a scene “From Russia with Love” as the crew in their various not-made-for-ice sport cars run from a submarine like ants running from an elephant. Yet the real low point of picture might be when Dom suits up as Batman villain Bane, cutting through a motorcade with a chainsaw. Taking another page from Marvel, the “Fate” ending doesn’t give the audience episodic closure, truly making this series feel like some space holder until better ideas surface.
Lacks the emotional importance of the last one and feels more a place holder than a fully realized 8th installment.