"Fate" sputters to the middle of the Furious pack

"Fate" sputters to the middle of the Furious pack

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 136 mins.

Premise: Dom (Vin Diesel) is forced to turn against his crew by a malevolent hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Can Dom's crew stop Cipher's plans for world domination before Dom turns his back on family for good?

Behind-the-Scenes: After James Wan declined to return, F. Gary Gray took over directing duties, fresh off the success of Straight Outta Compton. Theron who so memorably portrayed Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road seems a natural fit for the Fast/Furious franchise. Diesel and Dwayne Johnson reportedly clashed on set, with Johnson airing his grievances in an Instagram post earlier last year. Their beef could explain why the two have so few scenes together.

The Good: Eight movies in and the Fast/Furious machine is still kicking, with no real signs of slowing down. With Diesel stuck playing emotionally anguished and separated from the group, it's up to Johnson and Furious 7 baddie Jason Statham (now working for the good guys) to liven up the proceedings. Their scenes together are great fun, and the highlight of the entire movie is their prison brawl and subsequent escape. Tyrese gets in a few solid one-liners at Scott Eastwood's (clearly the new stand-in for Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner) expense. The action scenes, as always, are inventive and gamely over-the-top, finding new and even more outlandish ways to show cars saving the world. Dom's reason for breaking bad will please fans of the series' continuity. Kurt Russell returns as Mr. Nobody and rocks at delivering what would otherwise be tedious exposition.

The Bad: The script by series regular Chris Morgan takes a lot of dramatic shortcuts and fails to exploit the central drama for much tension. As welcome as Statham's presence is here, it's kind of tough to buy that Dom's crew would so easily forgive THE DUDE WHO SHOT HAN IN COLD BLOOD. The filmmakers waste Theron by sticking her on a plane typing commands into a computer for most of the movie. This is Furiosa for crying out loud! Put her in a car. Eastwood is terrible and his character works only as a punchline. At well over 2 hours, F8 is too damn long and overstays its welcome.

Should You See It?: Yes, if you're already a fan of this franchise. If not, this one's not gonna sway you.

Star Rating: *** out of 5 stars.

Better Than: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast & Furious

Worse Than: Fast Five, Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, The Fast and the Furious

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