Review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’ Stalls with Bloated, Forgettable Havoc

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

‘Fate of the Furious’ Needs a ‘Fast Five’ Franchise Upgrade

A bit of change can certainly go a long way. The Fast and the Furious series certainly took that philosophy to heart. Overnight, it became the most unlikely poster child for a much-needed franchise overhaul. To be perfectly honest, Fast Five saved the franchise, evolving from niche street racing to popcorn heist extravaganza. Six years later, The Fate of the Furious a.k.a. F8 spends its entire 2 hour and 20 minute run time pleading for another upgrade.

After 14 years, Furious 7 brought closure to the franchise with its tear-jerking finale and tribute to the late Paul Walker. Much like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, our heroes rode off into the sunset (for real this time). But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from The Fast and the Furious, “one last ride” means absolutely nothing. Now we facing an eighth (yes eighth) installment in The Fate of the Furious.

Enjoying his honeymoon in Havana with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom (Vin Diesel) loses any chance of down time when he’s confronted by elusive Cipher (Charlize Theron). She’s the unseen mastermind behind the series of events in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7. Thwarted twice, she’s obsessed with getting even with Dom and his crew. Fortunately for her, Cipher now wields the right leverage against Dom, forcing him to do the unthinkable – betray his family.

‘Family’ members going rogue is hardly a new concept to the franchise. Remember Michelle Rodriguez’s “rogue” subplot in Fast & Furious 6? The mystery and dynamic runs circles around Dom’s “allegiance” to Cipher. The screenplay written by Chris Morgan ditches any noteworthy attempts at suspense. The Fate of the Furious boils down to going through the motions of Dom’s waiting game from the very start. Diesel and Theron at the very least try to make the most out of the campy dialogue.

SEE ALSO: The Fate of the Furious Review: A Fun Pile of Garbage

Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gray takes over the director’s chair. And while he can navigate a bio-pic like Compton with ease, there’s something off-putting about his return to action. 2003’s The Italian Job (starring Theron) and A Man Apart (starring Diesel) weren’t exactly game-changers, but they’re not bloated and lifeless like The Fate of the Furious.

For mindless mayhem, The Fate of the Furious goes down the laundry list, checking off ludicrous set piece after another. Dom tricking out the “slowest car in Havana.” Check. Hacked cars dropped onto a bustling Manhattan street. Check. A showdown between a submarine and the crew’s ride on Russian ice. Check. Not to mention that last one’s almost as shoddy as the invisible car chase in Die Another Day. Realism and physics thrown out the window can still retain some entertainment value. Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 mastered that. Don’t expect it here (minus the opening race in Havana). Thankfully we’re not in space….just yet. But there’s at least two more installments due out in 2019 and 2021.

There’s hardly anything in The Fate of the Furious that sets it apart from the other seven installments. With the exception of Havana, exotic visual backdrops play second fiddle. Oh, Rio and Dubai, we’ve missed you. New York City and Berlin just don’t pop out as iconic playgrounds of havoc. The same goes for the cast, which continues to grow exponentially by the sequel. Like Furious 7, Dwayne Johnson is underutilized as the hulking DSS agent Hobbs. A hefty portion of his screen time is paired with Shaw (Jason Statham), who tries to flex his comedic muscle and misfires. Tyrese Gibson’s Roman trades comedic relief for pure obnoxiousness. However, Kurt Russell is fleshed out slightly more from Furious 7 as the operative, Mr. Nobody.

The Fate of the Furious gets a rise out of blowing things up and pitting Dom and his crew in the most ridiculous circumstances to date. By the time the credits roll, it’s the most forgettable chapter yet. Much of the fanbase might desire more of the same beats. But for this franchise’s sake it’s time to change up the formula once more.

Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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