"Are you really gonna turn your back on family?"
Okay, guys at Universal, seriously now; what’s the real title? I understand that for some weird and convoluted reason you want all of these movies to rearrange the order in which they incorporate the words Fast, Furious and some number concerning which order this one falls in the franchise for the three people who are concerned with the continuity of these movies. But you can’t possibly have a title that dumb, it’s just not possible, it seems beyond the realm of a human’s mental strength.
Just as Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team have finally found some semblance of a normal life, they find themselves coming face to face with an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.
Oh ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, how I continue to marvel at your complete detachment from reality and ability to exist within your own logic/critic/reason free universe. Now no matter how ridiculous, how spectacularly ludicrous you get, you still find a way to win everyone over. I admit it was only at ‘Furious 7’ that I started to find the appeal of the franchise, where I was won over by the dumb antics of the franchise and found myself enjoying the previous two instalments as well. Not only that but that way the production team went about handling the tragic death of Paul Walker convinced me that ‘Fast and Furious’ do have integrity and effort put into them, and are not the soulless, mindless pieces of garbage one can find Michael Bay peddling out.
I say all of this because criticising this latest instalment for being “over the top” is an exercise in futility. If that is your issue with this movie then why were you here in the first place? Of course it is dumb, over the top, mind blowingly ridiculous action. Like every movie in this franchise since ‘Fast Five’, ‘The Fate if the Furious’ (wow that title does not get better the more times I say it) completely revels in the absurd, physically impossible stunts and actively parades it as the main spectacle. But despite this I can’t help but think something felt a little off.
I am finding it difficult to put my finger on what it is exactly. Like the others it feels like the world’s best un-ironic joke in being a complete parody of itself in the most ludicrous way possible. The movie itself is still a very enjoyable affair, with the stunts and action only continuing to improve in their ambition and escalation. F Gary Gray may lack the visual flair and tight craftsmanship of previous directors to helm the franchise like Justin Lin and James Wan but he keeps the momentum high, the action clear and the fast paced tone at its highest.
I think the problem comes from the fact that the movie just feels more mechanical now. I will forgive anyone for saying that seems like a flimsy excuse but as the action of ‘The Fate of the Furious’ continue to grow in size it almost feels like a manufactured choice rather than one that should serve its audience. What I have learned from these movies is that audiences will forgive any logical leap in the narrative as long as it lands somewhere entertaining but as we find one contrived reason after another to take us to a city full of remote controlled death cars or a race over an arctic lake after a stolen nuclear submarine, the action starts to feel more like an obligation than an actual source of entertainment.
It also does not help when that narrative feels completely uninvolving. I understand that the plot is just a means to hang the action sequences on, but it would be nice if someone told the movie that. With so many moments of drab exposition, dramatic heft that feels like it is not having nearly as big an impact as the filmmakers want it to and a storyline that is outright predictable from the start. Not only that but when your main dramatic crux relies on audiences being able to emotionally connect with Vin Diesel as a character actor then you might be pushing your luck.
Though the script mostly plays to his strengths Diesel looks as if he isn’t even attempting to express more than one emotion. Then you have the likes of Michelle Rodriguez and Nathalie Emmanuel who are biblically terrible in their ability to convince me of anything they were ever saying. But luckily for every awful performance there is an enjoyable one. Kurt Russell is amazing as always, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham have great chemistry as rivals turned reluctant allies and Charlize Theron is deliciously evil as the main antagonist. However, and much hate to say this because it is of course a product of tragic circumstance rather than anyone’s fault, you can feel the absence of the late Paul Walker in the group dynamic.
That being said I still have no idea how to rate this film. I mean really if you have enjoyed the other instalments is there anything I’m going to say that will discourage you, and for anyone who has hated them I ask what can I do to persuade you? As I said at the start, this franchise exists within its own universe and I cannot envision anything within our reality stopping it. But seriously guys set the next one in space already, I mean at this point what’s stopping you? Just do it and everyone will love it. Even if it’s just called ‘Fast and Furious in Space’ because that still won’t be the dumbest title you’ve come up with.
‘Fate of the Furious’ will certainly please fans of the franchise, but never tries to broaden its horizons which is both its biggest asset and biggest flaw.