By Matt Fleming. As The Fate of the Furious races its way towards new global box office records, it is simply undeniable that this franchise is a juggernaut. Audiences across the world are willing to shell out just about every piece of currency they can get their hands on just to spend a couple adrenaline-fueled hours with Dominic Toretto and his family. With two more Fast films yet to come, only nuclear winter could stop this money-making monster. The appropriate question would be: when, if ever, will fans finally get sick of it?
Everyone has at least one friend who loves to apologize for their Furious affinity; whether it’s the “dumb fun” excuse or a fetish for Dwayne Johnson, even the more discerning moviegoers out there are susceptible to the wiles of Vin Diesel’s adventures. (Heck, even DoomRocket’s own Kyle King is an apologist.) However, in the wake of Furious 7 (and the loss of one of the franchise’s stars), writer Chris Morgan decided to abandon all reason in an effort to squeeze as much juice out of this franchise as possible, continuity be damned. After all, someone has to keep Tyrese Gibson employed. I’d warn folks of spoilers here, but let’s be honest — would it even matter?
The Fate of the Furious finds Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) finally enjoying their long-awaited honeymoon, but as is the formula, it’s only a matter of time before Toretto is pulled back into a life of crime. Only this time Dom is put into a position where he has to betray his most precious asset, that being — dramatic pause — his family.
Charlize Theron arrives to the franchise as its newest villain, but as we come to find out, her mega-terrorist Cipher has been orchestrating everything from the previous two films from behind the scenes, because why the hell not. Here it’s revealed (via some very persuasive iPhone evidence) that Cipher has imprisoned Dom’s former lover Elena and their heretofore unrevealed love child.
That’s right, Dom knocked Elena up while Letty was presumed dead, but Elena never felt the need to include pops in the kid’s life until she was under extreme duress. Surely this works for the story because foresight is a well-known staple of the Furious franchise.
In order to ramp up the action in this eighth entry, F. Gary Gray and Chris Morgan decide to just throw thousands of cars at each other in the middle of downtown New York, fly the crew to a secret Russian nuclear ice base, and hurtle a submarine at a bunch of fancy All-Terrain-Vehicles. Excess always finds a home in these movies, but apparently producers are willing to extend the bar of believability further and further, assuming that audiences will be too gobsmacked to cry uncle.
The film’s narrative incoherence is matched by Vin Diesel’s continued verbal incoherence, as the action star mumbles his way through a script that pays far too much homage to previous entries. (If I never hear the phrase “God’s Eye” again, it’ll be too soon.) Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris return for more unfunny bickering, only now they find themselves in a cockfight for the affections of Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Michelle Rodriguez stands idly by as her husband French-kisses a villain and ignores her phone calls. Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron practices her best blank stare for two hours, rambling about why Dom’s family is stupid and she even manages to threaten to murder a baby a couple of times.
The unsurprising highlight of this absurd affair is the chemistry between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason “The Transporter” Statham. Johnson thrives in Fate (presumably because he shares very little screen time with archenemy Diesel), delivering funny lines and wrestling moves with his signature charisma. Statham, on the other hand, seems committed to exposing the film’s ridiculousness as he smirks his way back to the good side of the fight (and has a pretty hilarious moment with the aforementioned baby). Joining the fracas is Kristofer Hivju, best known as Tormund Giantsbane on Game of Thrones, as a loveable badass henchman.
The most jarring addition to the cast is Scott Eastwood, filling a Paul Walker-shaped hole as Mr. Nobody’s sidekick. Eastwood does a passable impression of Kurt Russell as the man himself stands off to the side of the screen counting the zeros in his bank account. If nothing else comes from this series, Scott Eastwood is gonna be able to afford a nice rest home for his old man.
The Fate of the Furious is decidedly the most Fast and Furious movie this crew could muster. No amount of numbing idiocy can keep this movie from making all of the money, and at this rate, I fully expect the tenth entry to feature street racing in space. It’s the logical apex for a franchise as ridiculous as Furious to try and bilk aliens out of their space-bucks. The real Fate of the Furious is simply thus: Vin Diesel and the gang are getting exponentially richer.
Directed by F. Gary Gray.
Produced by Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, and Chris Morgan.
Written by Chris Morgan.
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, and Charlize Theron.
Rated PG-13 for sheer buffoonery.
3 out of 10