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Review: The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious
04.13.2017
8 10

PLOT: Dom’s (Vin Diesel) honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is interrupted by a cyber-terrorist, Cipher (Charlize Theron), who blackmails him into double-crossing Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the rest of his team during a job. Now seemingly a rogue terrorist, the team re-groups in order to capture their former leader, even if they have to kill him in the process.

REVIEW: The big question mark following FURIOUS 7 was whether or not the franchise could succeed without Paul Walker. While many would say people only flock to these movies for the action, were the relationships the audience has forged with the admittedly goofy characters not important, the XXX franchise would be just as big. Lucky for Universal, for whom this series has been the proverbial golden goose, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS proves star Vin Diesel and the rest of his crew still have enough NOS in their engines to keep the franchise going for at least a few more films.

Director F. Gary Gray, who back in 2003 helmed his own FAST AND THE FURIOUS-style caper, THE ITALIAN JOB (a jacked-up remake of the Michael Caine classic), steps into Justin Lin and James Wan’s shoes without missing a beat. The director may be different, but outside of perhaps a few moments where his sure-handed way with actors elevates some lines that would be unbearably goofy, he more or less sticks to the formula giving this perfect continuity with everything since FAST FIVE -- which is when all the elements really started to cook. Using the same writer (Chris Morgan), DP (Stephen F. Windon), editor (Christian Wagner) and composer (Brian Tyler) as the others, no one could ever mistake this for anything other than a FAST & FURIOUS movie - which speaks volumes to how immediately identifiable the series has become. In the same way Marvel movies look like Marvel movies, FAST & FURIOUS movies look like FAST & FURIOUS movies.

The only real risk taken is that, for most of the film, Diesel is separated from his crew. This denies us the unique vibe he has with them, being the one they all look to for guidance. Rather than have any of them really come into their own, even Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty, Johnson’s Hobbs becomes the defacto leader. It’s a bit strange to see this crew of international criminals-turned-heroes fall in-line behind a cop so easily, but then again, it’s The Rock, and given that he looks somehow even more pumped than he was last time (he never wears sleeves, although I don’t think any could actually fit him at this point), it works.

Diesel and Johnson never really appear on camera together, which makes the rumblings of their feud seem pretty legit, but Johnson is more prominent than he’s ever been with Diesel off doing his own thing. He seems to be having a ball, and his chemistry is especially strong with the returning Jason Statham, who’s in the process of being rehabilitated into a good guy, with some retroactive character beats being sprinkled-in to make him more misunderstood, although it’s odd to see everyone so tight with the guy that killed Han (although I full expect Sung Kang to re-emerge unscathed at some point). While his evolution make a whole lot of sense, it doesn’t really matter. As much fun as The Rock seems to be having, Statham seems to be having even more, and he hasn’t been this loose on-screen since SPY. This is a great franchise for him, and the introduction of a legend (whose identity I won’t spoil) as his mum promises a continuing role, one hopes.

Kurt Russell also returns as the government operative, Mr. Nobody, with Scott Eastwood in as his newbie trainee, who mostly serves as Tyrese’s straight-man, while the latter perfects his part as the crew’s cut-up. Russell probably shot most of his role in a day and never gets in on the action, but he’s a good fit as their M-like figure.

fate of the furious jason statham dwayne the rock johnson

Meanwhile, Charlize Theron vamps it up as the big bad. While her dreadlocks look dumb, she seems like she’s enjoying playing a baddie, although it’s a shame she doesn’t do much more than sit around in her jet-lair. As for our the franchise’s key man, Diesel, the thing that makes him go to work for Theron actually proves to be somewhat surprising and gives him a darker edge that suits the movie well and gives him a few different notes to play than usual.

Whether or not you like FATE OF THE FURIOUS wholly depends on your enjoyment of the other films. To me, these movies have always been a blast to watch with a packed theater full of screaming fans, and as far as tentpole eye-candy goes, this is one of the better franchises. It doesn’t take itself at all seriously, making the insane set-pieces where thousands of NYC cars are controlled by Theron or a submarine vs car chase easier to swallow than they might be otherwise. At this point you could send Dom and his crew to space and it would probably work. Is that anymore unbelievable than the fact that, in the first movie, Diesel was mostly concerned with hijacking truckloads of DVD players? It’s gleefully stupid but thoroughly enjoyable. If you liked the others, it’s hard to imagine you won’t get a kick out of this one too.

Source: JoBlo.com

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