This franchise is currently in a neck-and-neck race with Star Wars for the most amount of movies – and Star Wars has been going for 24 years longer. Let that sink in.
The Fate of the Furious (2017) is the sequel to 2015’s Furious 7 and is directed by F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton). It stars Vin Diesel as Dominic Torretto who’s blackmailed by mysterious cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) into turning against his old team and working for her.
If you’ve seen any of the previous F&F films from five onward, you know exactly what to expect here. Depending on what you think of those previous films decides whether that’s a good thing. Me, I fall somewhere in the middle. While I don’t necessarily think Fate is a great movie, its definitely a mildly entertaining one.
At its basic premise is a really simple and effective hook. The idea of Dom v. his old team is a sly one and brings a new dynamic to a franchise that is oh so obsessed with family. And not only that, the motivation for Dom to ‘go rogue’ makes quite a bit of sense and adds a little bit of emotion to a movie that’s more interested in going boom than bawling. That’s far from calling Fate‘s script good however – its paced far too sluggishly in the first half, has a garage full of bad lines and seems to randomly be missing a few key scenes.
But as the real hook of F&F goes, the script is perfectly functional. No fan in audience is showing up excited to see how well Tyrese Gibson exposites (note: badly). Oh no, they’re here to see the utterly ridiculous bayhem of explosions and crazy stunts – and they’re here in spades. The set pieces may not quite reach the level of Furious 7 but several of them – including a horde of remote-controlled cars and the big finale on top of a frozen serbian lake – are spectacles to behold. You manage to ignore physics, the leaps in logic and a little too much shaky cam and this is pure blockbuster material that any casual movie goner is going to highly enjoy.
So now that we’ve got Fate‘s biggest pro sorted, lets move onto the realm of hit-and-miss: the cast. Due to the tendency to steadily add to the cast from movie to movie, its beginning to get to the point that the cast is so big its weighing the movie down. About four or five of the core team could be cut and the movie would be no different. That’s not to say that so much of the cast is awful is that it needs to be pruned for the movie to be the leaner, meaner machine it wants to be.
Now considering this is such a big cast, I’m going to break them down one by one just to keep things simple.
Vin Diesel: Diesel actually tries to do some acting in Fate for the first time in a while, and its a welcome change.
Dwayne Johnson: The Rock remains charisma personified and is always an utter joy with these movies. He’s the best thing to happen to this franchise in its entire history.
Michelle Rodriguez: Now boasting approximately three expressions, Rodriguez is exactly what you’d expect. Hey, at least all that ‘back from the dead with amnesia’ trash is finally over with.
Ludacris: Stereotypical hacking support, but his dynamics with the rest of the cast keeps him from fading into the background.
Tyrese Gibson: As the designated comic relief, Gibson not as funny as the movie wants him to be. Edges on cringeworthy too many times.
Kurt Russell: Still underused as Mr Nobody but Russell’s basically an older (and white) version of the Rock – always entertaining.
Nathalie Emmanuel: Much like most of the audience I’m guessing, I completely forgot who she was. Turns out she was some hacker introduced in Furious 7 and now follows the team around. Why? No clue. Does not need to be here.
Scott Eastwood: As ‘little Nobody’, Eastwood is a weird addition to the cast. I guess he’s designed to fill the Paul Walker position but is honestly does that need to happen? He added completely nothing except being the butt of a few jokes and wasting screentime.
Jason Statham: Someone I’m actually happy they’ve held onto between movies. Statham may not have many acting chops but he can play action hero like nobody’s business and the guy really commits in a couple of scenes.
Charlize Theron: The only newcomer to the party, her turn as the villainous Cipher is actually really entertaining. Even though Theron is a little too talented an actress to be here, she plays what basically amounts to a Bond villain with gusto and as much scenery-chewing menace she can muster.
And each and every single of these people get a lot of screentime. I think I’ve proved my point regarding the cast.
In many ways, this review is completely pointless. Odds are if you’re aware of F&F you’ve already made up your mind on whether this movie is for you. But if you’re on the fence, there is solid popcorn fare to be had here – just don’t expect anything special (or scientifically accurate).
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Not recommended
Blockbusters: Highly Recommended