“The Fate of the Furious” (2017)
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez
Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Like the rest of the masses I pledged my allegiance to the Fast and Furious saga with the fifth installment. In “Fast Five” the powers that be decided that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew weren’t just illegal street racers slash carjackers with hearts of gold on the run from the law, nay they had become basically superheroes. Their crew became recruited and entangled in taking down terrorism threats that ultimately protected the U.S. of A. Somehow that move worked, and worked in a major way. The Furious movies are a global phenomenon billion dollar business more furious than ever, but unfortunately the 8th entry stalls out for way too long to be measured up to the delights that are entries 5 thru 7.
“The Fate of Furious” opens spectacularly with a drag race in Cuba that literally goes up in flames and shows us repeatedly what the ‘Cuban Way’ is, or so we’re told a half dozen of times. The film ends on a very high note with Jason Statham stealing the show with the best airplane fight sequence gun battle while holding a baby throughout that I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s everything in the middle that really drags and feels very un-Furious like. At times I was actually bored, which is something I haven’t felt with this series in awhile; prime example is the film’s big midway action set piece of every car going zombie getting hacked in NYC that just didn’t have the exuberant visual flare I’ve come accustomed to.
This time around, Dom goes to the dark side having to split from his Furious familia when an uber hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on her phone that even he can’t overcome. I so wanted the blackmailing video to be of Dom drinking a Budweiser instead of his usual Corona, unfortunately this is not what the video is but nonconsequential spoiler alert: it turns out they do drink Budweisers at the end of the movie. Betrayal.
The film takes a dark turn, and for me that’s a risky move that is valiant but doesn’t pay off. The fun that this series churns out so easily is dimmed this time around. Don’t go to a Furious movie looking for Aaron Sorkin writing, but even for this series the dialogue is quite painful at times. Charlize Theron feels neutered, stuck to a hacker’s keyboard trading wild kingdom metaphors with Diesel that prove my previous point.
I will say that the Furious team is literally up against someone this time around that is out for world domination, and I salute that. I keep waiting for the Furious crew to end up in a Marvel movie, I wouldn’t blink an eye. Here’s hoping #9 gets back on track.