The Fate of The Furious movie review: Another popcorn entertainer, with cars doing impossible stunts
director: F Gary Gary
At this point I’ve lost track of how many Fast and Furious have been made — but the advantage of this franchise at the moment is that it hardly matters. Even if you’ve never seen any of the previous films you’ll still find yourself enjoying the ludicrous stuff that happens in The Fate of the Furious. This is yet another supremely stupid popcorn entertainer that delivers on cars doing impossible stunts — and if you’re a fan of such things over story and plot, this is the film for you. Those tired of seeing the same things in the previous three films, however, will find this to be a tedious watch.
The film is directed by F Gary Gray who is experienced with filming in racing cars with The Italian Job, and he’s fairly competent on that front in this film as well. The story department, once again handled by series veteran Chris Morgan who has written every movie since Tokyo Drift, casually harks to the cringe inducing soap opera territory that’s been the franchise’s hallmark. We’re once again introduced to Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto, who places ‘family’ over everything else and still misses Paul Walker’s character. There’s a cyber terrorist (could Hollywood please move on from this generic villain) named Cipher (Theron) who plans to destroy the world for reasons that are not clear.
She blackmails Dom and makes him her stooge to steal some valuable stuff for her evil master plan, which inadvertently leads to a Civil War of sorts between Dom and his family. All this plotting is naturally a reason for the cast and crew to shoot in exotic locations like Iceland, Cuba, the Middle East and other glitzy places where polished expensive cars and scantily clad women hang out.
It’s kind of crazy, however, that a film series which began as a small story about street racing in 2001 is now an Avengers style superhero movie with a dash of James Bond. The latter, however, is a factor that works against the film because most of The Fate of the Furious feels like a dumb progeny of Die Another Day and Moonraker. The attempts to make the stunts as insane as possible become more and more predictably idiotic — the biggest casualty of these is a race between a submarine, its torpedoes and cars. The set piece outdoes the ‘cars in skyscraper’ and the ‘cars falling out of a plane’ sequences from the previous films but there’s something cold and routine about the action in this film.
The joyful enthusiasm of seeing cars racing in outlandish scenarios is replaced by factory produced over the top CGI mayhem. A person who hasn’t seen the earlier films might enjoy the scene where dozens of remote controlled cars falling out of a building onto a road, but to someone who loved the low key charm of the drag race in the first film will find such obscene display of budget suffocating and predictable. There’s only so much macho posturing one can take and after eight (or is it nine) films of the same stuff it’s time to attempt something new here.
The only truly interesting aspect in the film is the wise-ass love hate camaraderie between the characters of The Rock and Jason Statham, who seem to be fortunately aware of injecting some self aware humor in an increasingly soap operatic plot. It’s difficult to guess where the franchise goes from here — if it’s going to get bigger it’s definitely going to get worse. But if they’re thinking of going smaller and more intimate a comedy with the Rock and Statham involved in street racing would be a nice change of pace and scale.