Fate of the Furious Review: Absurdly Fun
The crew that we’ve all come to know and love over the last several iterations of the Fast-verse are back, and they bring with them continued world building (not something I expected to say) with the introduction of the new baddie and a few new friends to boot! Picking up just a short time from where Furious 7 and it’s heartfelt farewell to Paul Walker left off, Fate of the Furious finds Dom Toretto and Letty Oritz enjoying a honeymoon of sorts in Cuba before the shit hits the fan and Dom is forced to turn his back on his family.
F. Gary Gray of Straight Outta Compton (and most importantly, Friday) fame directs this installment, and for the most part, he does OK. He proves to be a fairly competent director for most of the film, when he isn’t overusing the Zack Snyder style slow motion for the big action set pieces, and somehow finding new ways to make me hate shaky cam during the hand to hand fight scenes. At one point, he manages to drop into slow-mo three times within the span of a minute. Cars on fire look cool, yeah, but come on, man! As for the fight scenes, he does his best showcase during the big prison break with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham; but later on, when Vin, or Statham or The Rock or going mano-a-mano in a less chaotic setting, the camera work suddenly makes Paul Greengrass’ Bourne fight scenes seem clear and concise. It made me realize like I would rather see Jason Statham get added to the roster of the next John Wick movie that Chad Stahelski directs, because he clearly can still kick some ass!
Chris Morgan, who has had a hand in writing each installment of this series since Tokyo Drift, gets sole writing credit for this one. The story itself isn’t too bad: predictable and a bit schlocky, but overall fun and a bit endearing. There are certainly plotholes galore in this, but if you’re a fan of the franchise, then you already know that you’re not in the theater for the well written and engaging story, but the awesome cars, beautiful women, and the cast who seem to have a ton of fun doing these films.
With ensemble casts like this, it’s incredibly hard to go through each of them and give your thoughts on each character without it devolving into a boring kind of one line biography for each. Vin Diesel as Toretto gets a bit of a character arc and the tertiary members of the crew are the same as they were in the last film. However, it’s the Rock and his back and forth insults with Jason Statham that steal the show. Johnson had to be ad libbing most of those, because I was laughing my ass off and getting flashbacks of WWE Attitude Era Rock on the mic. Why he doesn’t have his own F&F spin off or Rundown sequel yet is beyond me.
Charlize Theron plays merciless sociopath pretty well. She gives off a slight Hannibal Lecter vibe, were he ever a cyber terrorist. Unfortunately, there are bits and pieces of her dialogue that hint to her character being incredibly interesting due to her motives, but Morgan’s script just sweeps all that under the rug. On one hand, it’s a missed opportunity to finally give a bad guy a truly three dimensional feel in this franchise, but on the other, the film is already almost two and half hours and it’s a bit too long as it is. Another wasted actor is Kristofer Hivju, better known as Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones. He’s a pretty decent actor with a formidable presence who’s largely relegated to being a strong and menacing silent bodyguard.
Overall, it’s a fun film that ends up being a bit more of the same. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll love this film. If you’re not, this isn’t going to be the one that is going to change your mind. It’s big, loud, stupid fun with just enough heart and is a pretty decent way to kick off Summer movie season!