Movie Review - The Fate of the Furious
Chris Morgan who wrote the last five entries in this franchise comes up with screenplays by basically throwing darts at various cities on a map and then handing it over to his director, in this case F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton and The Italian Job), to find ways to speed through downtown streets smashing up as many automobiles as possible. His craft also involves stitching together plot threads from all his previous scripts to establish a coherent story. This one doesn't really hold together, but that would make it no different from most of the others.
Vin Diesel stars as Dominic "Dom" Turetto, a car and driving expert-turned-criminal-turned undercover hero for the government. He seems like he's resigned to a nice, semi-quiet life until he's turned back into a criminal.
The question is why. Why would he become a criminal? Why would he betray the woman he loves, Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez, as well as his former team? Why would become the lackey to an international terrorist named Cipher, played by Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road and Prometheus)?
These movies have effectively ripped off so many others. From Point Break, Ocean's Eleven, Mission: Impossible and even The Avengers, it makes sense this franchise would hit up another movie blockbuster series. This time, it's James Bond. Theron, for example, is clearly auditioning to be the next Bond villain. In fact, in some moments, she feels like Blofeld from Spectre (2015). Yet, the real question this movie fails in its answer is why does Cipher even need or want Dom.
Action films have a tendency to link personally the protagonist with the antagonist. There's always some personal connection that keeps the two at odds for the whole movie. The connection here is the flimsiest of flimsy reasons. Cipher basically blackmails Dom into helping her, but the film makes clear that she doesn't need him. In fact, her involvement of him leads to her own defeat. For someone as cold and as calculating as Cipher, her involvement with Dom for her reasons was just stupidity in the highest order.
There's only one good action sequence and that's the chase through the streets of Manhattan in broad daylight, culminating in what looked like CGI cars cascading from the air like a waterfall where the water is replaced by metallic vehicles. The same Manhattan sequence features a great moment where Dom's Plymouth GTX battles six other cars in a game of tug-of-war.
The climactic set-piece on the ice with a submarine felt like that Hollywood maxim that the sequel has to have something bigger. The largest flying vehicle, a Spruce Goose-like airplane was used in the second-to-last film, so for this one it had to be amped up to a large, nuclear submarine. The next film will probably feature a rocket ship headed to space. Nonetheless, that climactic set-piece was essentially a repeat of the ending of Fast & Furious 6, minus the emotional heavy-hitter.
There was a sequence with Statham who plays Deckard Shaw and a baby that would have been cool if I hadn't seen a similar one with Clive Davis in Shoot 'Em Up (2007). There is a surprising appearance of Helen Mirren who has the funniest moment in the whole film with the line, "Devil's bumhole."
Rated PG-13 for violence, destruction, suggestive content and language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 16 mins.