The Fate of the Furious is the latest chapter in the saga of Dominic Toretto and his vaunted family (#family). Starting with Fast Five, the franchise has transformed from a tale about street racers to a tale of international adventurers. While there’s a race early on in the movie, the rest is about fast cars, ridiculous action, massive collateral damage, vicious punches, and diatribes about family. Although there are some new characters and major changes to old ones, nothing about The Fate of the Furious feels fresh. It’s loads of fun if you’re looking for big, dumb action, but I doubt it will create any new fans.
Here are some random thoughts on The Fate of the Furious, presented in RPadTV binary style. If you don’t want to see any spoilers then it’s time to hit the NOS button and drive on outta here.
So Stupid (Good): There were several moments in The Fate of the Furious that had me thinking, “So stupid,” while a massive grin was on my face. This is when the franchise is at its best — serving up unbelievable action that denies logic and physics, but that’s also irresistibly fun. The movie has several “So Stupid” moments and each one is delightful.
Shaw’s Forgiven (Bad): One of the biggest issues I had with the The Fate of the Furious was the crew accepting Deckard Shaw so easily. Shaw was the baddie in Furious 7 and killed Han, the snack-devouring member of the group. Dom swore that he was going to do unspeakable things to Shaw in retaliation (though it’s unclear if they were unspeakable because of Dom’s limited vocabulary). After some witty banter and an awesomely heroic act-three rescue, Shaw is now welcomed at Toretto Family Barbecues (#family). You’d think that exploding a friend and valuable ally (#family) would cause at least one of the group to hold a grudge…or maybe they’ve always resented Han for eating all of their Pringles.
Siva Tau 4 Life (Good): Before Luke Hobbs — once again portrayed with devastating charm by Dwayne Johnson — jumps into the action, he’s found coaching his daughter’s soccer team. Prior to the match, he has the girls perform a haka. The scene is hilarious and a nice nod to The Rock’s Polynesian heritage. Sadly, it was more entertaining when these girls did it than when the Usos do the Siva Tau (Samoan haka) in WWE.
Carrying a Torch For Paul Walker (Good): The Fate of the Furious has several nods to Brian O’Conner, the late Paul Walker’s character. There’s a brief scene where the crew explains why he (the character, not the actor) isn’t around for this adventure. Dom names his baby after him (the character, not the actor). Vin Diesel also busts out a few scenes that stretch the definition of the word acting, obviously to honor him (the actor, not the character). Paul Walker is the most entertaining bad actor of my generation and an irreplaceable force in the franchise. While I absolutely appreciated Diesel trying to act poorly, his bad acting — especially his laughable “dramatic yelling!!!” — can’t touch Walker’s art. The effort was certainly appreciated though.
Gray Action (Bad): F Gary Gray (first name presumably F*ck, as in F Scott Fitzgerald) is a wonderful director. His action scenes in The Fate of the Furious are over-the-top crazy and amazing spectacles. While his overall directing is strong, his action scenes lack style compared to his predecessor’s. Justin Lin’s sequences were spectacular and had an unmistakable flair. That isn’t to say that Gray’s action scenes aren’t entertaining; they just lack Lin’s signature punch.
Mama Shaw (Good): The incomparable Helen Mirren had a small but brilliant role in The Fate of the Furious. When most people think of Mirren, they see visions of an elegant and proper English lady. Having her play a street thug mother to a pair of street thugs was outstanding. Her character and accent were fantastic. I hope they bring her back in the next movie.
Little Nobody (Good): Scott Eastwood plays a by-the-book agent that’s a wonderful foil to Toretto’s crew. He’s a great straight-man that finds himself surrounded by a group of rowdy rogues (and also Ramsey). He adds a nice twist to the banter between law-breaking do-gooders by being a stick in the mud that they can all rip on.
Hacker Battles (Bad): Early on in the blowout Russian fight scene, Cipher and Ramsey are engaging in computer warfare while the rest of the participants are using cars, guns, and fists. The hacker battle looked and sounded ridiculous. These encounters sorta kinda work on shows like Arrow and The Flash, when the budget is low and one of the characters (Felicity) is supposed to be silly. When two quality actors in a big-budget film try to do in the midst of really expensive action, it’s kind of dumb.
Telegraphing Elena (Good): During Elena’s first scene, it’s so obvious that she’s going to die later on the f
ilm movie. Killing Baby Brian would be too evil for this franchise. The ham-fisted telegraphing falls into the good category because it’s funny.
Bottom Line: While The Fate of the Furious can’t touch the glory of Fast Five and isn’t as good as the sixth or seventh chapters, it’s still an enjoyable ride if you’re a fan of the franchise. Paul Walker’s acting and Justin Lin’s style are absolutely missed, but the movie still manages to be fun. It’s big and loud and stupid, which is exactly what you’d expect from the franchise. It’s not compelling enough to create any new fans, but if you enjoy the type of action that requires you to suspend logic and basic knowledge of physics then you’ll enjoy the latest adventure of Dominic Toretto and his gang of lovable misfits.