April 15, 2017 by bck1402
a.k.a The Fate of The Furious
Let’s put it out there. If you’re a fan of the series, you’re going to watch this regardless of what I’m going to write about (and so, just skip way down to the spoiler zone). If you’re not familiar with the series, this being the 8th movie of the ‘saga’, and you’re just in it for the action, then I suggest you check your brain at the door and go with the ridiculously fuel-headed flow because the story is mired deep within the mythology. Otherwise, you’re not likely to be watching this.
So, yeah, if you check out the trailer below, the catch this time is that the bad guy is our main hero, and any fan of the series will be asking, “How?” or “Why?” and that involves characters from the past. Writer Chris Morgan, who’s pretty much had story control since the third entry, makes use of material that’s come before during his tenure, so we get a few familiar faces, call-backs to certain events, and additional context to other actions that would allow previous antagonist, Deckard (Jason Statham) to easily slip himself onto the side of the “angels”.
Still, given the nature of the series, the focus may be more on the action set-pieces under the guidance of incoming director, F Gary Gray (The Negotiator, The Italian Job (2003), Straight Outta Compton). Gray’s reuniting with stars Diesel (A Man Apart), Dwayne Johnson (Be Cool), Statham and Charlize Theron (The Italian Job), and he manages to wrangle the all-star cast with Johnson, Statham and Theron being stand-outs. And Helen Mirren too, but that’s just by default for appearing in a movie like this.
The action sticks to the practical for as much as possible, with the New York sequence showcasing at least three major vehicular set-pieces. See videos here and here to check out the practical stunt work, not to mention the insanity of the Berlin sequence that properly kicks off the plot.
How you might take to the action beats might depend on mood, and as spectacularly grander in scale or breathtaking as they are, some might feel it’s simply more of the same. The lack of proper fisticuffs might add to that lacklustre feeling as well, not that it was completely lacking in proper fights, like the throw down between Statham and Johnson or having Tony Jaa face off against Paul Walker in the previous instalment. It’s more the shooting and editing of these scenes. And speaking of Walker, his absence as a calm centre is significantly felt, even as the characters address his absence.
So in all, it’s a decent continuation of the series in terms of the outrageous action set-pieces that will serve the cravings of action fans. Lots of cool cars are on display including some crazy hardware, and the practical use of stunts keeps the franchise elevated above the rest of the competitors. The stars are comfortable in their roles with the newcomers (Theron, Mirren, Scott Eastwood) slipping in comfortably with the rest. Whether it’s better or worse than its predecessors is a matter personal preference, not there’s really much in terms of diminishing returns.
Rating: ***1/2 / 5
And so, on to the spoiler zone after the break, where I’ll be looking at some of the finer aspects of the plot.
Coming into The Fate of The Furious, there was a possibility that the absence of Paul Walker might be used as a plot point for turning Dom from the side of the angels, but writer Chris Morgan came up with a different approach, one that might raise some issue with the overall timeline of the series thus far. It’s not that the timeline hasn’t been an issue before as it is now clear that the third movie takes place after the sixth movie in the timeline. As the MacGuffin here involves Elena (Elsa Pataky), last seen early on in the last instalment, the timeline between Fast Five to this one becomes questionable again.
On top of that, the nature of the main villain here, Cipher (Charlize Theron) hints at the interconnectivity of entires six, seven and eight. The problem with all this is the constant march of technology.
Morgan makes do with what he can and it makes sense in how he pushes the characters. You want to put your hero in difficult situations with truly heartless and unfeeling villains, and that is exactly what he puts Dom thru. But then there is Dom’s overall plan, which was a little easy to see coming, even with a few twists (thanks to having the main credits at the beginning instead of at the end during Justin Lin’s tenure) thrown in for good measure. Mirren’s appearance could have been a bigger surprise as was the reappearance of a pair of characters not seen since the fifth movie. Still, they managed one more surprise after that, effective for fans for the series, but not to any newcomer.
So plot-wise, there’s a lot to take at face value with leaps of logic needed to be applied. That’s not something new to this series of movies tho as logic and the occasional bit of physics tends to go out the high-speed window often. Perhaps seen in sequence with no breaks in between the release of the movies, the timeline issue isn’t that big a deal, and I just might be nit-picking.
For some tho, it just might be a deal-breaker to the overall enjoyment of the movie.
Still, on a technical front, it’s amazing what they pull off, no matter how ridiculously furious. Bring on the next one.
Stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Kristofer Hivju, with Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and Kurt Russell
Directed by F Gary Gray