Fate of the Furious, The (2017)
Release Date: April 14th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: F. Gary Gray Actors: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood
njoying the sun, the cars, and the occasional street race, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) relaxes in Havana, Cuba with the love of his life, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). His peaceful retreat is disrupted when he’s contacted by the elusive cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who forces the former superspy into participating in her devious schemes. While his loyal crew of operatives – including Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) – are assigned by top secret government official Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to retrieve a missing EMP bomb, Toretto steals the weapon for Cipher instead. His unexpected betrayal sets into motion a battle between friends and family that will find loyalties tested and old enemies resurfacing as the forces of good and evil pursue each other around the globe.
As with the previous films, this eighth chapter begins like a music video (before morphing into a car commercial and ending up as a spoof of itself), with a bad debt involving Dom’s cousin initiating a street race in Cuba. Thanks to the frenetic, frenzied editing, it’s never convincing that an actual race is occurring; obstacles are gimmicky or absurd, and genuine tension is sacrificed for outlandish stunts and misplaced camaraderie. It’s all hysterically stupid, culminating with Dom heroically standing before a crowd of cheering children, just like the opening sequence of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.” Diesel is clearly hoping to be a role model, despite having just jumped from a burning vehicle that careened off a bridge after putting the lives of countless onlookers in considerable danger – all for an elaborate, pointless show of reputation and machismo.
Next up is Theron, clearly demonstrating her desperation with acquiring a worthwhile role, going to great lengths to seem severe and merciless, even when none of the characters surrounding her bother to go along with the idea. Strangely self-aware, the majority of the cast doesn’t take this fantasy world too seriously, though many skate in and out of a sense of sincerity. The more earnestly the movie tries at an aura of awesomeness, the more it looks plain silly. And the more the personas talk tough, the more they sound laughable. Johnson, Statham, Gibson, Bridges, Russell, Emmanuel, Eastwood, and a bevy of cameos all contribute to the comic relief, as if this entire franchise has become a straight comedy more than an actioner. In many ways, it’s turning into “The Expendables” for a newer generation, with a slightly different cast of aging action stars.
Perhaps most disappointing of all is the construction of the adventure sequences themselves. This is never more apparent than when the first classified assignment is introduced mid-mission, with an explosion and cars suddenly racing down a street. There’s no setup, no details, and no plan – just the getaway, where things explode and collide with one another like objects in a cartoon.
From here, it’s virtually a series of unrelated skits, wherein jokey insults are traded, guns are fired, nonsensical technology is utilized spontaneously to aid or thwart the participants, fistfights break out, and girls display their shapely rears (most notably at the beginning with Lisandra Delgado, who is credited as “Sexy Race Starter”). The lack of a plot and the broad way in which characters are developed make it extremely difficult to care about anyone or anything that happens. In a world where everyone is invincible, police are nonexistent, tires are never shot at or blow out, and consequences are immaterial, “The Fate of the Furious” becomes the equivalent of watching a friend kill a couple of hours playing a “Grand Theft Auto” game; the chaos, the car porn, the casualties, and the inconsequential destruction of environments is fun because there are no lasting repercussions. So it hardly matters that continuity and logistics are utterly ignored (right alongside physics and believable technology and logical financial restraints), that characters return from the dead as if an inside joke with the audience, or that 99% of the picture is designed solely around catering to diehard fans.
– The Massie Twins