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The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

April 28, 2017

Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron
Director: F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Comptom, Law Abiding Citizen)

Bottom Line: Full disclosure: I’ve never made watching the Furious movies a priority (this is the first one I’ve seen in theaters since maybe the second one, possibly the first one) so I never got around to watching the seventh installment before seeing this movie. It only feels moderately necessary – and my skimming of the franchise’s Wikipedia page made me feel primed enough to take on The Fate Of The Furious without feeling like I’d be too lost.

I never would have thought when the original film debuted in 2001 that it would go on to become one of the most successful action franchises of all-time, spawning seven sequels – most of which are pretty fun – and a Universal Studios tram ride. But here we are, in 2017, watching the 8th installment of a series that has continually surprised and has arguably been picking up gradual steam since it rebooted in 2009.

Well, while The Fate Of The Furious is going to disappoint few die hard fans and, at this point, it seems ridiculous to be overly critical of how preposterous all of it is, this is the first clear step backwards since the Tokyo Drift spinoff/sequel. For me, it all starts with Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a techno-terrorist that lures Dom (Diesel) aboard her nefarious mission by showing him something on her phone and pits him against his scattered team of driving/thieving wizards. So, in a sense, we get to see Dom be the villain for the first time in a while, which is kind of cool, but it also creates a weird dynamic where the audience is supposed to buy that his team – wife included – actually question his intentions. Cipher is a computer hacker genius, with access to every camera and vehicle computer in the city, but Dom is somehow able to orchestrate a perfectly timed sidestep in order to meet up with the mother of the Shaw brothers (villains of the last two movies) and set in motion his plan to overcome his current situation. Yes, totally unbelievable and it seems like an easy target for criticism but at some point you have to realize when you are simply watching lazy writing.

Theron isn’t given much to work with here and she totally phones in her performance. She’s completely over-qualified and doesn’t bother to raise the bar. Jason Statham and The Rock, however, are perfectly suited for this kind of movie – they can crack jokes and kick ass with the best of them. Since I skipped the seventh movie, I never saw Statham playing the bad guy in it, but he’s definitely a welcome addition here and clearly one of the film’s highlights.

The Fate Of The Furious wasn’t bad and I found myself entertained watching it, but it did start to feel a bit tired and everything happens a little too perfectly – at one point, my friend turned to me and made a comment about how little concern one of the characters was showing in a specific moment and I replied: “no one is ever concerned about ANYTHING.” And that’s what the Furious franchise has come to. Yes, the spectacle can be fun to watch, but at this point, no one is fooled into thinking anything is ever actually at stake.

Replay Value: Not sure I’ve seen one of these movies more than once.
Sequel Potential: Believe it or not, Vin Diesel is already attached to parts 9 and 10.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 5/10 (watchable)

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