The Fate of the Furious

Director: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren

Rated: PG-13 (prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language)

When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

 

The Fate of the Furious

By Matt Greene

The only Fast / Furious movie I’ve ever seen (until Fate) was 2015’s Furious Seven, and despite giant box office numbers and widespread critical acclaim, I was less than taken by it. While I didn’t care for the juvenile plotting and rampant false machismo, I chalked up much of my disappointment to my own ignorance of the series as a whole. So going into this 8th installment, I wasn’t expecting much; in fact, I was straight-up dreading it. Surprisingly though, Fate accomplished something Seven didn’t: With its hilariously invincible characters and sincerely ridiculous set-pieces, this over-the-top venture made me wanna dive into the whole series.

We find Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez) on their honeymoon in Cuba. After a wonderfully outrageous street-race, Dom is coerced by series newcomer Cipher (Theron) to work for her and betray his own family. The driving and action scenes are so far beyond stupid (hundreds of remote controlled vehicles, a drag race with a nuclear submarine, Statham fighting while holding a baby), yet they more than get the job done, pumping adrenaline like gas in a V8. The most impressive feat, however, is its sturdy ethical dilemmas which drive the plot forward (with the blunt force of a flaming semi, mind you, but still…).

Let’s get it straight: an Oscar-contender this is not. The humor isn’t always intentional, Theron’s villain rides the line of menacing and laughable (dreaded mini-locs? Why?), and the climactic arctic set-piece is absurd and logically incomprehensible (watch for the final explosion). Is it a “so-bad-it’s-good” kinda movie? Maybe; all I know is I smiled through every stupid minute, and even started to get the hype.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

The Fate of the Furious

By Cole Schneider

The eighth film in the Fast and Furious canon opens with a drag race in Havana and is certainly has plenty of auto-fueled adrenaline to fit into the rest of the series, but it really feels more like a Mission Impossible movie if Tom Cruise were part of a team; or as our resident good-guys and gals Dom, Letty, Hobbs, Roman, Tej, Ramsey, and Deckard would put it: it’s Mission Impossible if Tom Cruise had a family.

“The Fate of the Furious” keeps upping the ante on its combination of world-spanning spy movieness and over-the-top creative cartoonishness, but it’s not only more ridiculous than a Mission Impossible or a Bourne. Central to the incredible commercial and cultural impact of these films is their insistent humility. This isn’t just a team where they need each other’s talents in order to win this episode’s fight. This is a family who care deeply for one another and refuse the Cruise-esque lead role. Over and over, the story could easily have a character drive off with the lead role, but no one wants it. There’s a purity to these characters that, while far too insistent in their dialogue, comes across elegantly in their action.

This family is the John Wayne of today’s American cinema. Perhaps their goodness seems a bit too thick, but they’re filling a similar mythical void and they’re doing it with much more horsepower than The Duke ever could. It’s too long, too plotting, and too on-the-nose, but it knows exactly what it is and it achieves its goals with both flair and sincerity. That’s an uncommon and laudable achievement.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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