Movie Review: “The Fate Of The Furious” (PG-13)
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. You read the 4 out of 5 star rating correctly. The truth is that most franchises have completely run out of gas by the fourth chapter, but that’s when the “Furious” series was just getting started. Crazy, considering that the first movie in this saga wasn’t strong enough to warrant one sequel, let alone seven of them. Yet here we are.
As “The Fate of the Furious” opens, Brian (the late Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) have moved away and left the car business for good. Meanwhile, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are enjoying a much needed getaway of their own. While on a honeymoon, Dom is approached and ultimately seduced backed into the game by Cipher (Charlize Theron), a mysterious woman from his past. Almost immediately, this loyal leader does what no one in the world would expect him to do: He turns his back on family.
Eventually, Letty and team, including returning favorites Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), and a physically imposing Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) head out on a new globetrotting adventure, one that finds them looking for a reason behind Dom’s seemingly nonsensical betrayal, all while taking on a mastermind villain with a diabolical scheme involving weapons of mass destruction. Also along for the ride are government official Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), fresh-out-of-prison Deckard (Jason Statham), and Mr. Nobody’s by-the-book right-hand man, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood.) There’s also another new player in the mix, but it’s such a joy when she pops up in the film that we’ll keep her name under wraps.
An early advanced screening of “The Fate of the Furious” was met with mixed reactions. Some viewers suggested that perhaps this movie isn’t all that its cracked up to be while others were completely won over by its over-the-top nature. For my money, not only is “The Fate of the Furious” a bonkers, balls-to-the-wall good time, it might be the most entertaining chapter in the series yet. No easy feat when taking into consideration that “Furious 7” was emotionally driven in part by the untimely passing of Paul Walker. While “The Fate of the Furious” doesn’t have anything that monumentally emotional driving it, it is an entertaining new beginning of sorts (this movie purports to set the stage for at least a couple more entries), and it continues to wear its theme of family proudly on its sleeve
Never has that theme been more prevalent then it is in this picture. This is why the very idea of Dom turning his back on those he cares about most is such a perfect hook. While we’re on that topic, why does Dom go rogue? You’re not getting that nugget of information from me.
As directed by F. Gary Gray (“Friday,” “The Italian Job,” and “Straight Outta Compton”), “The Fate of the Furious” is loud, ridiculous, silly, gravity defying, and relentlessly over-the-top. But as the last few installments in this franchise have so deftly illustrated, this entry is completely self-aware, and it’s all the more entertaining for it. High amongst the most ape-shit crazy of sequences are an epic set piece in which hundreds of cars are commandeered by way of remote control and sent barreling through the streets of a heavily populated city; a no-holds-barred prison riot with fist-fighting Hobbs and Deckard at the center of it; an insane, laugh-inducing moment in which a key character changes the trajectory of an ice-skipping torpedo with his feet; and a joyfully choreographed action homage to an iconic sequence from John Woo’s “The Killer.”
At the heart of all this madness is the mutlicultural cast that you’ve come to know and love, and as usual, all involved look to be having the time of their lives, even when they’re freezing their asses off in a snow-filled finale. With appearances by the likes of Diesel, Johnson, and Statham, you’d think there would be a ton of machismo on display, and you’d be absolutely right. It should be noted, though, that when it comes to this franchise, swagger simply comes with the territory. Beyond that, it’s nice to see the great Kurt Russell get a little more to do this time around, and Theron is deliciously bad as the villainous Cipher.
The “Furious” series certainly isn’t high art, but I’ll take this kind of dumb fun over the mind-numbing excess of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” movies any day of the week. “The Fate of the Furious” delivers on the car-nage front to be sure, but it also offers up an appealing cast and a high-octane story that’s every bit as much about family, loyalty, and honor as it is about things that go really fast and things that go “boom.”