The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Directed by F. Gary Gray
1 1/2 stars (out of 4)
Well, here is yet another movie from the Fast and Furious franchise, and it is definitely fast and furious. The previous one, Furious 7, brought heartfelt commitment from the cast and crew to exciting results, and 2001’s The Fast and the Furious (written by David Ayer, who also penned Training Day that same year) was a tough, action-fuelled film for adrenaline junkies. So with skilled director F. Gary Gray (director of Straight Outta Compton and Friday) on the reigns this time, how could it have gone so wrong?
For starters, this franchise has burned out faster than the wheels used on 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The problem is not that this is the eighth film of a well-loved film franchise, but the fact that so much is ridiculous and cliché heavy in this latest installment. The plot: A cyber terrorist, Cipher (a wasted Charlize Theron), blackmails tough guy Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) into working for her and turning his back on his “family”, which in this film series is as bad as committing a cardinal sin. Cipher plans on starting a nuclear war, which does not sit well with the team. Everyone except the late Paul Walker, who was written as having a vacation with his wife somewhere, is back to reprise each of their respective roles as Dominic’s partners. These include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as special agent Luke Hobbs, Michelle Rodriguez as former street racer Letty Ortiz, Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pierce, rap star Ludacris as mechanic Tej Parker, and a priceless Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw (the hilarious scenes he shares with The Rock are the best reason to see the film, as they show wonderful chemistry as actors). Also, veteran reggaeton artists, Don Omar and Tego Calderón, make blink-and-you-might-miss-it cameos as fellow members of Dom’s gang.
There are a few redeeming qualities to this film, although none for me to merit a recommendation. The aforementioned scenes with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham show these two action stars with great comedic timing and delivery. Also, the always-welcome Kurt Russell reprises his role as covert ops team leader Mr. Nobody (with dark shades and a devilish grin that makes him seem like he’s the only one in on this joke of a movie), and Scott Eastwood stars as Little Nobody, who is under Mr. Nobody’s wing as a training law enforcement agent. Plus, as mindless and excessively loud as they are, certain action scenes were done skillfully and smoothly. But, sadly, these qualities do not overcome the film’s mistakes.
I have no qualms with films that have no shred of intelligence and huge boosts of adrenaline and action. Alas, it would be wise to at least form a coherent plot that is easy to follow and doesn’t go into stupidity (a scene defying any evidence of logic shows the heroes chasing after the bad guys on a nuclear submarine across a frozen lake in Iceland. Go figure.) I was dreading this would be another reason to milk this cash cow of a film franchise, even if the director on the realms is the superb F. Gary Gray. Yes, this same man was the one who directed 2015’s brilliant N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton and 1995’s stoner comedy Friday. I expected more from such a talented cast and crew, but I guess people need to put food on their tables, too.