The Fate of The Furious
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron.
Reviewed by Michael Dalton
I wish my editor had sent someone else to see The Fate of The Furious, the latest instalment, the 8th by golly, of one of the most depressingly successful franchise in cinema history. I’m the wrong guy for the job. Part 6 was my last encounter. That was the one where these reckless lunatics dragged a couple of 200 tonne safes through downtown Brazil. Logic would’ve dictated a massacre but then, logic ain’t a quality you’ll find here. This is all about muscles, both car and physique, gasoline, boobs spilling out of tiny tank tops (yes Dwayne Johnson is back), exploding cars, cars driving themselves, cars falling out of windows, Jason Statham growling, Tyrese Gibson one-lining like a parrot with Tourettes, Helen Mirren with a Cockney accent you won’t believe, a villainous Charlize Theron with equally villainous dreadlocks purring dialogue like “Let’s get this party started” and “These guys are starting to piss me off!”, Nathalie Emmanuel as a non-entity, Ludacris front and centre to “save yo ass!!!!!”, Kurt Russell returning as Mr. Nobody, Scott Eastwood as his perky assistant Little Nobody, Vin Diesel who this time defects from the crazy clique, and of course collateral death that we, and the film, shall never speak of. Actually, before the film started we were treated to a “personal message” from a sleepy but sincere Mr. Diesel thanking us for helping make the franchise the mammoth success it is.
So this new adventure involves torpedoes, nuclear bombs, and a stolen submarine. As was the case the last time I visited, this troupe seems to be sexually aroused by their machines; Gibson does everything but strip and reach for the baby oil when he eyes off a Lamborghini on an assembly line. Of course the point of these movies, and the audience I endured it with seemed thrilled at the expectation of it, is that they increase the ridiculous and the outrageous and that’s where this overlong film fails epically. It feels more like one of those disposable Bond films that Pierce Brosnan wandered through; it’s as if the director F. Gary Gray has forgotten the modus operandi of the series: The Sillier The Better. There is an embarrassment of centrepieces but the one you’ll remember takes place in Manhattan. High above the city in her elaborate control room perches Cipher (Theron) who commands her team to hack into the cars below and set them on a course of riotous mayhem and its a spectacle. She’s already stolen nuclear warheads and currently visiting the city is a head of state that has the codes to launch them. One can only wonder with the super advanced technology at her disposal why she’d bother but… It’s worth watching this riotous sequence closely. The Big Apple has taken a beating many times of course (didn’t The Avengers tear it asunder not too long ago?) but this may be the first time we see Manhattanites busily scuttling to work amidst the destruction without a second thought. Its a great joke but Gray drops the ball.
The main problem here is how far away from the original formula Gray moves it. It opens as it should with a breakneck race, this time through the streets of Cuba. It’s all blinding colours, sharp editing, and plenty of noise and it’s a pure rush, but then the gang is turned into a group of operatives. How did it come to this? The cultists that follow the series slavishly won’t give a damn.