THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS gets 7.5/ 10 When Good Anti-heroes Go Bad

the-fate-of-the-furious

Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Vin Deisel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron

Holy Heck!! There’s a car chase involving a nuclear submarine through the Arctic tundra!!!!

Brilliant. A must see film!

…….

Hmmmm….feels like I should be doing more for this review.

…..OK.

This is for those of you that might need a more detailed reason to see this film. The eighth film in this ongoing franchise, The Fate of the Furious sees Dom (Vin Deisel) go rouge when a mysterious figure, Cipher (Charlize Theron), gains some unseen leverage on the folliclly challenged anti hero. Betraying the team to steal an EMP device, Dom has apparently turned his back on family. Now it it up to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the rest of the team, to discover Cipher’s plan and thwart her, hopefully saving their companion along the way. To do this they’ll need the help of someone that knows her, an old enemy, Deckard (Jason Statham).

Somehow in just over 15 years, the Fast and Furious franchise has metamorphosed into one of the best action franchises on the planet. At this stage of the game it is pretty much a superhero film with fast cars, as the team shrugs off catastrophic damage that would cripple a Terminator, and people frequently come back from the dead. If you put your brain in neutral, there is a lot of fun to be had here, and although the physics of the world are broken, everything kind of has its own internally consistent logic. This is a world that functions on NOS, constantly shifting overly complicated gearboxes, and the power of Family.

Hence the Face/ Heel turn by Dom is so devastating, and such great grist for drama. That betrayal of family (the key theme running through F&F) is emotionally traumatic, with the added bonus that the crew must now face a villain on their level, when they are at a disadvantage. Perfect. It’s something Fate makes great use of mining both sides of the conflict for drama. Dom gets to be conflicted, due to his “reasons” for the heel turn, while the rest get to be vengeful, disbelieving, or just plain confused (as required).

However drama isn’t what most people see F&F films for, and lets face it the paint jobs on the cars are deeper and more layered than the drama in the script. Fate has just enough for the actors to sink their teeth into, and to grease the wheels for F&F’s main draw card – action. Specifically the insane car stunts that are hallmark of the franchise. Somehow it has managed to constantly top itself going bigger and better, and this is no exception. From a horde of “zombie” cars in New York, to the aforementioned sub chase, The Fate Of The Furious certainly delivers on the thrills and spills.

Still, even with all this, there are a few niggling flaws. The Fate of the Furious introduces a number of elements to the meta-plot of the Fast and Furious world that make it even more piece-meal and stitched together. Motivation from previous iterations of the franchise, that seemed vitality important at the time are jettisoned in favour of the new. Also by this stage, the cast of regulars is getting ludicrously large, and apparently growing with each passing film. It is getting unwieldy to give each character adequate screen time, but given the quality of the cast, a little does a lot (with the likes of Kurt Russel, Helen Mirren, and Jason Statham).

Pure popcorn drama. The Fate of the Furious may function purely on spectacle, but it gets that right with its high octane action.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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