THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Directed by: – F. Gary Gray
Produced by: – Neal H. Mortiz, Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Chris Morgan
Starring: – Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron , Helen Mirren
Runtime: – 136 minutes (2hrs 16mins)
Family No More
As a moviegoer one of the greatest mysteries or anomalies depending how you see it is the Fast and Furious franchise. What initially started as a series of street racing movies changed into a thoroughly entertaining heist movie by its fifth iteration and has now become the illegitimate love child of James Bond and Power Rangers for its sixth, seventh and now eighth movie which is up for review today. By all accounts this series should have stagnated due to how many movies there are but it is still going strong and its not dipping in quality (though Fast Five is still my favourite) as the set pieces are getting grander, more ludicrous and yet it is still gaining praise from critics and moviegoers alike whilst making a killing at the box office.
I think its garnered success because its know that its not trying to be a cinematic masterpiece or critical darling but an action movie that is big, dumb fun something that Michael Bay fails to do repeatedly with the Transformers series of films. Another reason for its success is the fact that they’ve gotten the audience to know and care about their characters and the actors and actresses playing them. A true exemplification of that was the audience’s reaction to the tragic passing of series regular Paul Walker who played Brian O’Conner and the heartfelt tribute that was paid to him following the conclusion of Furious 7. Many won’t remember Paul Walker as an A-list actor but we will all remember him for his stand up persona out of the cameras and his turn as Brian, a character who the audience grew to know and care about. There is a saying that sometimes all you need is great characters to tell a story. Regardless of whether you like these characters or not, a lot of moviegoers have already established an attachment to them, which in turn makes sequences that could affect their fate more fun and engaging to watch.
The eighth instalment begins with Dominic Toretto enjoying his honeymoon with his wife and fellow team member Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) in the beautiful and sunny streets of Havana, Cuba engaging in street races and talks about their future. All seems good until Dom is approached by a mysterious Woman who calls herself Cipher (Charlize Theron) who has serious leverage over Dom for unknown reasons that he cannot reveal to his team without serious consequences.
Dom goes rogue and becomes a fugitive again as he betrays his team, including Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) during an unofficial mission that involves the retrieval of an extremely dangerous device that Cipher wants to use. In order to stop Dom and reunite him with the “family”, the crew realize they are going to need the assistance of their sworn enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to capture Dominic and take down Cipher.
Acting as the first film in the franchise since Paul Walker’s untimely death during production of Furious 7. This new edition now relies on the directorial talents of F. Gary Gray whose work includes The Italian Job and 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, Fate of the Furious has all the gears to keep the series momentum moving. The movie succeeds but it still hits a few speed bumps that prevent it from matching the standards set by the previous instalments.
- Even though the rogue Dom arc falls a little short of further developing Diesel’s one dimensional character who talks only about “family” whilst performing super human feats that an average grease monkey shouldn’t be able to do, he surprisingly delivers his most dramatic and emotionally- rich performance in a Fast & Furious movie to date. Its definitely not because of the film’s story but because we know the character and for the first time seeing him in a vulnerable state.
- Jason Statham who played the villain in the previous entry has now become an anti-hero in this iteration as he decides to help the family due to the fact he also has a bone to pick with Cipher. Statham performance is good as he manages to make what was once a villainous character into a likeable one. He achieves this thanks to his cockney charm, swagger and physical prowess that break up the vehicle sequences well. He also gets the opportunity to form a hate-hate relationship with Johnson’s Hobbs that is ripe with nasty but hilarious quips and it’s actually quite enjoyable to watch.
- The core of Dom’s crew is comfortable as ever in their roles and its good to see them again. Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce is still the fast talking joker who is the comic relief, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges is still the tech guru Tej Parker that uses his expertise out of a pinch. Michelle Rodriguez is still the tough badass lady of the group and Nathalie Emanuel who was the latest addition in the previous movie does her part as the gifted Ramsey who is essentially a classier and female version of Tej. Kurt Russell returns as the mission handler Mr. Nobody and is still having fun with the role. The performances are serviceable and helps add personality to the film but it’s probably not the best, as they don’t give their characters substantial development.
- I really enjoyed the performances from the franchises new additions. Oscar winner Charlize Theron who plays the mysterious villain Cipher. Even though the character is mostly bound to a stationary position she still manages to make the most out of her screen-time. Her one-on-one scenes with Diesel are the most tense and suspenseful moment of the film, which displays Gray’s strength at crafting character-driven drama. There is also a special cameo from acting legend Dame Helen Mirren that was fun to see and presents the potential for Mirren to play a larger role in the upcoming films.
- The slick action set pieces are the glue that sticks the movie together. From the opening street race to the insane jailbreak with Statham and Johnson to the crazy sequence with the smart cars causing havoc in the streets of New York to the crazy submarine chase in a frozen part of Russia, Fate of the Furious definitely delivers on this front and you will be smiling throughout these sequences. Though the scenes are bigger in scale I feel that it lost a bit of its technical flourishes that previous directors James Wan and Justin Lin were able to bring to the table.
- Scott Eastwood is another new addition to the franchise, as Mr. Nobody’s apprentice Little Nobody, does not bring much to the film. He doesn’t add an element of humour, isn’t very interesting and at times feels like he’s only there to fill the vacancy that Walker left and covers for Kurt Russell character who could have easily done what Eastwood was doing if he wasn’t occupied with his schedule. Let’s hope that he gets more room to shine next time round.
- While I enjoyed a few elements of Charlize Theron’s performance, I feel that the movie didn’t use her well enough. Chris Morgan who penned the script presents her as a Bond-like villain, yet doesn’t give her a notable action set piece to participate in. For a majority of the film she’s glued to the seats of a high tech plane and she barks orders to her grunts on the plane and the ground below. This is particularly disappointing considering we know that Theron is capable of kicking so much ass given her turn as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, Aeon Flux and her upcoming movie Atomic Blonde.
The Fate of the Furious is a solid addition to a long running franchise that is showing no signs that it will breakdown anytime soon. This iteration is just as ridiculous, fast paced and fun as the others but misses out on the podium with some of the other entries due to the fact it didn’t fully utilize its newcomers and its story doesn’t get a completely satisfying pay-off that its premise presents. At the end of the day it’s a rip-roaring good time that you should watch when you can.
RATING: – WATCH AT A DISCOUNTED PRICE