Saturday, April 15, 2017

Movie Review: "The Fate of the Furious" (2017)

Director: F. Gary Gray
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
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A super hacker named Cipher gains leverage over Dom and uses it to blackmail him into betraying his team. Now, Cipher is using him to run missions for her so she can get her hands on some nasty, super destructive weapons. 

"The Fate of the Furious" is the eighth installment in the long running franchise that started as a "Point Break" knockoff. This particular movie is directed by F. Gary Gray, who takes over the franchise from James Wan. Gray is known for directing the critically acclaimed "Straight Outta Compton," as well as the not so critically acclaimed "Be Cool." It is written by Chris Morgan, who has been writing these movies since "Tokyo Drift." Of course, the movie stars Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, and joining him are Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, and Nathalie Emmanuel, who all reprise their roles from the previous installments. New to the franchise are Scott Eastwood, who plays 'Little Nobody,' the assistant of Russell's 'Mr. Nobody,' and Charlize Theron, who plays over-the-top cartoonish villain and super-uber-hacker known as Cipher. Cipher needs to get her hands on some nuclear weapons for reasons, so she finds a way to gain leverage over Dom, which in turn makes him betray his team/family to get them for her. 

We feel like we have been on a roller coaster with this franchise over the decade-plus it has been in existence. It has had its ups and downs, figuratively and literally. "Furious 7" was one of the higher points of the series, and if we're being honest, we sort of expected "F8" to take a down turn. For the first half of the movie, it looked to be on a down turn. The movie starts out with what feels like a more muted tone that doesn't quite have the fun, more self-aware aspects these movies have benefited from since "Fast Five." None of the early action sequences are all that exciting or unique. We know there was a promise of the series movie returning to its street racing roots, but they never fully gripped us like they have in the past. There are also lulls where the dialogue consists of characters strictly describing things, describing what they intend to do, and describe exactly what is going to happen next in the film. Some characters, specifically Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Charlize Theron, constantly throw out a bunch of generic computer jargon and drop a few topical references to try and sell their ~*glorious~* hacking skills and credibility.

At first, we found ourselves feeling a bit of a return to the original form of the franchise with a self-serious attitude surrounding everything that happens early on. Luckily, this dissipates towards the latter half of the film. The fun eventually begins to pick up, and we are treated to the crazy, balls to the wall, 'screw physics' action sequences we all hope for from these movies, including but not limited to cars falling from the sky, mid-air fight sequences, and the use of a literal submarine as a weapon. We also get a film-stealing scene with Jason Statham, and that's hard to do in a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. Speaking of these two blokes, Statham and Johnson have tremendous chemistry as mortal enemies. Any scenes they are in, together or apart, instantly make the movie ten times better.

"The Fate of the Furious" is not well written, doesn't have a clean narrative, and it's not particularly well acted, but by god, the characters are likable and it generally provides a good time to all those watching. Besides, do you really go see "Fast and Furious" movies for their well thought out narratives and their expertly crafted dialogue? Hell no! You see them because you like to watch fast cars racing and a lot of shit blowing up in an epic fashion. In the end, fans of the franchise won't be disappointed with the final product here, but for us, it ventured into not great and all too familiar territory in the beginning. Luckily, it redeemed itself with some stellar fights between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, and the always reliable mumble-core we've come to expect from Vin Diesel.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~64%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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