The Fate of the Furious

Directed By: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, and Helen Mirren

I realize that I've been reducing the frequency of my reviews as of late.  I've been absent since Logan and am just now coming out of the shadows.  There's a method to my madness, however, and it's not just reviewing big event movies or awards darlings.  I could make 2017 another year in which I churn out 300 reviews.  That being said, I'd rather allocate my time and energy to fewer, higher quality reviews.  That brings me to this weekend's The Fate of the Furious, the latest tale in the saga of Dominic Toretto and his family.  It's safe to say that Universal has not learned the same lesson I have with The Fast and the Furious franchise.  They've seen the highs of Fast Five and the lows of Tokyo Drift.  For their eighth outing with Dominic Toretto, they land somewhere in the middle.  There's undoubtedly plenty of entertainment value, but you're going to have to suspend your disbelief to the utmost extent.

Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon in Havana Cuba.  When his cousin gets into trouble with one of the local bosses over some money, Dom settles the score for his family behind the wheel.  Sometime afterward, he's paid a visit by the infamous cyberterrorist Cypher (Charlize Theron).  She makes him an offer of employment he can't refuse.  When DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson brings the team back together for an assignment off the books to acquire an EMP, Cypher has Dom turn on his family.  Leaving Hobbs at the mercy of law enforcement and his team as INTERPOL's most wanted, Dom makes his move and escapes with the device.  With the team in disarray, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) brings the group back together to take down Cypher and Dom.  Nobody adds one more member who is no stranger to the group, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).

With elaborate action sequences and a plethora of comedy, there is absolutely no doubt that The Fate of the Furious offers plenty of entertainment value for moviegoers of all stripes.  I certainly enjoyed the film overall and have no problem recommending it for you.  That being said, you will need drinks for this eighth installment in the series because it will leave you scratching your head in utter confusion on several notable occasions courtesy of some extraordinarily shoddy writing.  As the film continues down the rabbit hole of a spy franchise, some of the developments in the film are pure nonsense.  To the longtime fans of the franchise, my quips with the movie may seem rather commonplace, but they'll have to work harder than usual to ignore some of the film's shortcomings.

No longer one of the street racing movies of yesteryear, The Fate of the Furious self-identifies as a spy caper.  Jetting from one exotic location to another like a 007 flick, director F. Gary Gray takes the action around the globe in grand fashion.  Given the franchise we have on our hands, there's no shortage of elaborate, pulse-pounding car chases.  In fact, Gray serves up what may just be one of the most creative car chase sequences in cinematic history.  With Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham, there are plenty of fist-pounding fights.  You can't go wrong with any one of them in a single film, but having all three of them in combat throughout the movie is a real joy for action junkies.  Finally, the franchise continues to internalize the mantra "Go big or go home".  To outdo the airplanes, drones, and bank vaults of past installments, Gray ups the ante with a nuclear submarine.  While it's nothing short of ridiculous when you think about where the franchise began, it does technically raise the stakes and proves to be relatively consistent with the spy movie genre.

The comedy is unrelenting in The Fate of the Furious.  The proof is in the laughs.  There's the always reliable back-and-forth banter between Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges's Tej Parker.  They never cease teasing one another, and that's a never-ending recipe for laughter.  Beyond my favorite pairing, we've got Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.  Apart, they talk trash all day long.  Together, they talk trash all day long.  Either way, it's comedic gold for the audience.  All of this leaves out the host of supporting characters bringing their unique brands of charm and wit to this ensemble action flick.  Altogether, it's one funny affair.

With tons of action, comedy, and delectable badassery from the full ensemble, The Fate of the Furious still suffers from some gaping holes in the storyline.  Even with the incomparable Charlize Theron elevating the quality of acting in the film and stealing countless scenes, there’s nothing to mask these fault lines.  Without spoiling the movie for you (too much), the film fails to really address the rifts caused by Toretto's betrayal.  When the family eventually comes back together, there's no mention of this betrayal.  It's as if there's been no harm or foul.  There's not even a hint of any misgivings on the part of any of Toretto's crew.  Missteps like this are emblematic of the questionable screenplay we have here.  Don't even let me get started on the nuclear submarine.  All in all, it's safe to say that this eighth installment has its shortcomings.

There is no doubt that I enjoyed The Fate of the Furious.  There is no doubt that Universal will be making big bucks throughout the film's box office run.  There's even no doubt that there will be yet another sequel.  Still, I implore them to craft a screenplay with more than just a faint hint of common sense.  The Fate of the Furious gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.