James McCraw, Office Manager/Reporter
The Fate of the Furious is the perfect popcorn movie. A summer blockbuster, released in the spring so as not to contend with the numerous superhero movies coming out in the upcoming months, is the perfect action packed film, with a diverse cast and bombastic special effects. However, that’s pretty much all the film is good for.
If a filmgoer hasn’t seen any of the previous seven Fast and Furious movies, this one is most certainly not the one to start with. However, based on the worldwide gross over opening weekend, it’s plain to see that worldwide audiences have been rushing to see the adventures of Vin Diesel and the rest of the crew for years. In fact, it has been 16 years since the original film in the franchise was released. After the untimely death of franchise star Paul Walker in 2013, many fans were skeptical how the franchise would wrap up the storyline with his character in Fast 7, released in 2015.
With a classy farewell to Walker’s character in Fast 7, the doors were left open for Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto, to finally get his starring role in the franchise. However, the movie seemed to be more of a starring role for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson instead.
The plot is not very complex. Diesel is in Cuba on his honeymoon with Michelle Rodriguez’s character, Letty, his long-time girlfriend from the previous films. He is approached by Charlize Theron, who plays a mysterious hacker named Cypher. That’s it. That’s what her character is called for the whole movie. Theron has some information that is detrimental to Diesel, and he has no choice to betray his family and work for Theron. The rest of the film is a typical cat and mouse game between the two factions, leading to a pretty outrageous final act in Russia, involving a nuclear submarine, and a simultaneous airplane fight scene.
A major issue with the recent direction of the franchise is that the movies are no longer about scantily clad women and auto racing. Granted, those are two things that movies should not be based on, but that overarching premise has become less and less noticeable in the films. In fact, this movie has only one actual auto race, and that is within the first 15 minutes, when Diesel is in Cuba. The second act has a car themed battle in New York, and the third act is cars and tanks and submarines in Russia. It sounds outrageous, but it actually makes for good film making, albeit, mostly CGI.
Another issue with the film is that the star power often times seems to outshine the franchise stars. Academy Award winning actress Theron is a significantly better actor than Diesel, however, at times, she underplays her role, sometimes seeming as if the director didn’t want the viewer to believe she is a better actor than her co-stars. Then there is the issue with Johnson. He steals his scenes, and it seemed at times that I was watching a film about his character, and not a film about the rest of the family. His screen presence is almost too much for the ensemble cast, and it seemed at times as if he was auditioning for a solo film with his character.
The movie is a run-of-the-mill action film. The big plot twist was one that was unexpected, however. The three acts are separated by witty banter, and it seemed as if the characters had to spell out the plot, as if the audience isn’t smart enough to get it. The new characters are useful and make sense for the structure of the film, and cameos by unexpected old friends put a smile (or frown) on the faces of the viewer. The ending is predictable, and, overall, knowing that this isn’t the last time we will see these characters, leads us not to care about the fate of this motley gang of anti-heroes, but, in fact, to what outrageous plot the ninth installment will bring us in 2019.
I give this 3.5/5
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