F Gary Gray’s Fate of the Furious (2017) Movie Review
Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious
Star cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Michelle Rodriguez and Jason Statham.
Music Composed by Brian Tyler
Cinematography by Stephen F Windon
Edited by Christian Wagner
Directed by F Gary Gray
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 136 Minutes.
Not many franchises can claim to have blockbuster their stride with the 7th installment, but that’s what “Fast and Furious” succeeded at with “Furious 7” in 2015. What began as a look at the goofy lives of Los Angeles street race culture moved on to heist/mission in the middle installments and now, the family goes against a geeky boogeyman to get their alpha back. It’s a franchise that banked on its absurdity and fatuity and succeeded because it never took itself very seriously and it knows what it wants to be. I can always appreciate that. Part of the beguiles of what it had become revolves around how cinematically harebrained things they do.
“Fast Five” was the turning point for me. The rigorous change in formula was welcomed and that still has some of the best action episodes of the last decade. It was followed by serviceable ‘Fast and Furious 6’ and satisfying ‘Furious 7’ with a tribute to Paul Walker. Now we reach the eighth film because naturally there has to be another film, right?
So this brings us to The Fast and The Furious 8 (or as the title card says, “The Fate of the Furious”) definitely ups the ante with action sequences – which includes a submarine chase, the 6 minute 51 Chevy race, New York 60s charger chase, and a fight (including a baby) on hi-tech plane – but it unfortunately loses some ‘fast’ forward momentum due to ridiculous plot developments and fails to justify the loose plot strings by the end.
Once again, International cities are chosen and our cast is thrown in it. Last time, USA, London, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi were chosen. This time it starts in Cuba and ends in Iceland. The film begins by reintroducing us to the cast and giving us a quick rundown of where they are and what have been up to. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Megan (Nathalie Emmanuel) are still Interpol’s most wanted people. They’ve settled down in different places putting their former lives behind. But that quickly changes when Cipher (Charlize Theron), with a mission and holds something important to make Dom turn against his team (as he screwed her plans owning ‘Gods Eye’ from Moses Jakande in Furious 7 and ‘Nightshade’ (something similar to EMP Device in Fate of the Furious) from Owen Shaw Deckard in Furious 6). The hunt for Cipher pulls in Ian Shaw (Jason Statham), who quickly feels the full force of Cipher’s resolve.
The story of ‘The Fate of the Furious’ is pretty elementary and the structure is basically set around moving things from point A to B to C. It has nothing innovative or new when it comes to the narrative point. When it is focused on its main ‘stopping Cipher’ thread it hits on all cylinders. but there are major parts that don’t quite work as well. Once again Mr Nobody shows up as a USA shadow agent with unlimited resources and Magdalene (Helen Mirren) is also here for obvious reasons. The entire side plot of Cipher and going against her isn’t particularly well presented or even compelling enough. Like; why she wants to nuke a random country to create a world war? Why she wants Dominic on her side? Okay Dom plants a bug on necklace, but no one in ultra-secured fight gets a dubiety about ever beaming device on board? and no one tracks Owen – Ian Shaw movements behind the ultra-secured flight and how did they manage to control this camouflaged flight in the first place? How did Dom track down Magdalene and converse with his new friend in Cuba for a meeting in New York? Why did Dom believe Magdalene, whose son killed his family member? Why did everyone forgiven Ian Shaw for killing Han-Giselle, which is still kind of weird when you think about it? Why did Dom name his kid Brian, when Brain is still alive in furious-verse? Will escaped Cipher join Dom’s crew (like Ian Shaw) in decisive conclusion? Etc. They do serve to fill in necessary potential plot holes and to set the table for some of the zaniest action episodes, but that’s about all they have to offer. There are also couple of weird, almost obligatory, diversions meant to reflect back to streets racing roots of the franchise (as Paul Walker wanted it to be). Personally, I wished they should have get past that.
The performances are about what you would expect. The range is from regular – functional to pretty underwhelming. This installment slightly try to inject emotional weight than the previous two films and that’s when the lead performances struggled the most. Though Vin Diesel presence brings power to the film, it is however lacks that igniting spark that carried previous 3 films, where his internal aspects and emotions were being explored, providing nuance to his performance, but here due to tolerant character quality added to him, there was little for me to reach for, an emotional distance that was only compensated for that sense of nostalgia. The writer Chris Morgan even neglected to give the female antagonist Charlize Theron noteworthy sequences and wastes one of the major talent in the film. She is limited in ultra-secured plane, issuing orders, and limited to dark conversations. How can one restrict the idea of Furiosa (Madmax) racing against the alpha Dominic Toretto. Jason Statham as the bad-ass Ian Shaw is funny in parts, and the way final plane fight sequence was handled (with a child in cradle) leaves you in splits. The Rock is hunky with loads of screen charisma to boot, but I feel like his role is quite underwritten. The rest of the Dom’s crew aren’t asked to do any heavy lifting and that not a good thing. Both Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris’s comic act grew old quite quick. But none of these performances are why people will go to see this film.
That’s enough about the acting. Directed by unlikely F Gary Grey, who began his career with film Set it Off (1996), sleeper hit The Negotiator (1998), The Italian Job (2003), Law Abiding Citizen (2009) and most recently helmed Straight Outta Compton (2015), the difference he tries to bring to the franchise is very pernicious, but anyone could create something singular out of the never-ending ticktack of writer Chris Morgan’s attempts to outdo his fatuousness. The writer makes use of almost every cliche one can find in a story like this plus all its attempts at humor never completely work and aren’t well timed as before. The best moment of the film, and aside from the 51 Chevy race, the only time Grey’s presence was felt was in the conversation of Jason Statham & Jr Dom, which subverts his negative shade and we realize his lighter side. Small things like that go a long way, but those times are very rare and leaves most of the downtime in the film to be spent ridic dark conversations. This is Morgan’s idea making things calm before the perpetual final act.
As far as Visual effects go, ‘Fast Five’, ‘Fast & Furious 6’ nearly reverted to the old-school formula and made extensive use of practical effects. ‘Furious 7’ was no way close to reality and did use loads of CGI work for few over ambitious and ridiculous sequences. Now ‘Fate of the Furious 8’ take few steps further and makes action set pieces too absurd to have any ground for believability. While the previous chapter slaughtered the laws of physics, this one simply thrashes the laws of practicality in hacking with one ludicrous sequence after another. Production design team puts up some wonderfully detailed set pieces, camera man makes ebullient use of its camera while the applied colour tones are more vivid than the previous chapters. Editing is at best during the action sequences and the events unfold at breakneck pace. Musical score by Brain Tyler fails to charge the atmosphere with his intensity.
The ‘Fast and the Furious’ series always out do themselves and ‘Fate of the Furious’ is no different. The movie is incongruous at major points, almost laughably so, but that is the theme of this franchise. Talking about team work, speeds, races, revenge and family. Charlize Theron was a great add on to the star-studded cast, even though her character could have been used in a better way. Overall, ‘Fate of the Furious’ will satisfy many fans with its cockeyed action and moments of inspired indulgence.
Survi Review: 2/5