The Fate of the Furious Film Review
After eight films, The Fate of the Furious is still giving audiences what they crave.
Each of the eight Fast and Furious movies have always existed in a kind of alternate universe. It’s one made up of bad guys and good guys, where international politics play no role, and being obsessed with fast cars is still cool past the age of ten. The chicks are always scantily-clad babes, the guys’ muscles ripple along their arms like bunched up electrical cords, and the cheesiest one liners are met with solemn respect. This is a purely escapist universe that isn’t without a little self-awareness, making the whole spectacle a good amount of fun in its own right.
One thing you can always expect from a Fast and Furious movie is fancy, colourful cars and over-the-top chase sequences. The Fate of the Furious has these, but it’s hardly a racing movie the way the early instalments have been. In between the spots of automobile action, there’s plenty of melodrama between Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michele Rodriguez), as well as a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film, which includes a hammy performance from Charlize Theron playing a genius hacker named Cypher. After following Dom around Cuba for a while, she offers him a job causing him to betray his team and start working for her. Determined to get him back, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) assembles a team that includes Deckard (Jason Statham), with whom he has an unusual rivalry. The whole thing comes to a head in an explosion-heavy chase across a sheet of ice outside of a Russian ice station, where the fate of the world is in the hands of this wise-cracking ‘family’ of fast-car obsessives.
The movie crams in so many plot points and crosses so many genres that it winds up being a bit of a mixed bag. The cast is so large that most of the characters amount to a few throwaway lines. The underused Rodriguez is reduced to sideways glances and sad looks towards Dom due to his betrayal, whereas Statham and Johnson’s immensely entertaining rivalry reaches dizzying levels of campiness. Johnson’s best line is perhaps when he tells Deckard he’s going to ‘knock his teeth so far down his throat he’ll have to stick a toothbrush up his arse just to brush them.’ Oscar winner Charlize Theron is criminally underused. Having proven herself to be a magnificent action star in Mad Max: Fury Road, here she’s restricted to pacing back and forth in dark rooms. Her big action scene features her bent over a laptop in a vicious typing war with opposing hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Vin Diesel is given the most complex role, which is bizarre considering that expecting a nuanced performance from him is like drawing a smiley face on a sack of potatoes and expecting it to start reciting lines from Hamlet.
Having established himself with the critical hit Straight Outta Compton (2015) and in action films with the Italian Job (2003) remake, director F. Gary Gray is unfortunately too reliant on jump cuts to demonstrate his finesse here. There’s a prison riot scene featuring Deckard and Johnson, both accomplished fighters as well as actors, in which the scenes are cut so quickly they’re reduced to sight gags—it’d be great to see these two duking it out in longer takes. That said, there’s a particularly tense scene in which Hobbs’ team latches onto Dom’s car using grappling hooks, entrapping him from all sides. Gray cuts to the faces of the characters and plays off their relationships instead of the CGI that plagues the rest of the car chase in the city.
The thing is, fans of the franchise aren’t going to be swayed by the film’s critical reception. You already know if you’re going to see this movie and if you’re going to like it. If you don’t, once you’ve seen Dominic Toretto win a race driving a flame-engulfed car in reverse, Cypher dropping zombie cars from high rise buildings onto the streets below and an orange Ferrari correct itself out of a tailspin across a sheet of ice, you’ll know whether or not The Fate of the Furious is for you.
Feature image via wall.alphacoders.com