#REVIEW: “THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
I used to loathe the Fast and Furious Films, but that changed after watching Fast Five back in 2011. The Film completely rebooted the franchise, drastically reversing its focus on street racing to something closer to Ocean’s Eleven on steroids. Each subsequent entry has one-upped the previous Film in terms of ridiculous stunts and ludicrously entertaining action sequences. And The Fate of the Furious is no different. In fact – it is actually a bit of a departure from the rather consistent formula.
Instead of fighting alongside his self-proclaimed family, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) breaks bad and joins up with a mysterious terrorist hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron). She has plans that will make world leaders tremble – but Dom’s family has no intention of giving up on him.
That very brief plot description sounds like absolute nonsense. But after eight movies, you should expect nothing less from a Fast and Furious film. Director F. Gary Gray maintains all the hallmarks of the franchise: bad dialogue, a preposterous number of references to family, loose timelines and continuity, frantic editing, spectacular action scenes and jaw-dropping stunts. He even finds time to drop in a little bit of street racing. Gray also cuts back on the montages, and spends more time focused on both the on-screen carnage and the actors’ amazing comradery.
But what really sets Fate apart from its predecessors is Chris Morgan’s script. The stakes feel higher, and the consequences are radically different than before. This darkness may throw off some Fast fans, as will the brutality of the fight scenes. Gray really brings out the grittiness of Morgan’s script, and pushes the limits of the Film’s PG-13 rating. This works in some cases, but flops terribly in others. But I admire the attempts they make to alter the formula. I just wish they could find a way to make some of the Film’s twists more coherently sound.
As expected, the cast is a joy to watch in action. Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris have a blast in their well-worn roles. After being sidelined for too much of Furious 7, Dwayne Johnson comes back swinging as Luke Hobbs, achieving some of his best lines and moments to date. Watching him tussle and banter with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw (who actually has a personality this time, as opposed to being a one-dimensional wrecking ball) is more than enough reason to hope for a future spin-off. Kurt Russell’s mysterious Mr. Nobody gets even more time to chew the scenery and outshine everyone on screen, but gets shown up by a brand-new character who completely steals the show in just two scenes. And no, I am not talking about Scott Eastwood, who tries hard but cannot mask how blatantly obvious it is that he is standing in for Paul Walker.
If the Film falters anywhere, it is in the performances from Diesel and Theron. Diesel has never been one for emotion – so watching him cry, yell and wrestle with the weight of betraying his crew is near laughable. Theron fares even worse, spending most of the Film screaming into a headset or talking about her theoretical plans like a millennial Bond villain. She was inspired casting, but is completely underutilized as the villain.
The Fate of the Furious takes a few surprising turns, but it still does ridiculous thrills and laughs just as great as before. I had a blast watching it and tried my very best not to think too hard about all the absurd things happening on-screen. I find that is the best way to enjoy this kind of pure popcorn entertainment.
Universal Studios Canada races THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS into theatres Friday, April 14, 2017.