The Fate of the Furious (2017) Directed by F. Gary Gray. Starring: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson. IMDB says: “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.”
While Furious 7 left us in a chapter closing spot – with Brian and Mia officially retiring into the sunset – there was no way that would be the end of this franchise. Although it’s a little bitter to move on from Paul Walker’s involvement after his tragic passing, this is just too big of a series to close up shop. And so we have the adventures of Vin Diesel and family back at it in The Fate of the Furious. This movie brings together our former street car racers turned gigantic heist team turned secret government operatives to a culminating point from the last few movies. Although they’ve yet again settled into their lives, there is a new plot afoot that brings them back into the fold of adrenaline fueled stunts and secret plans to destroy the world.
Our main hero Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is honeymooning in Havana with his longtime partner Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), when he is approached by our movie’s villain who has the proper motivation to turn him against his own team. Charlize Theron sports a memorable dread locked hairdo as Cipher, a cyberterrorist (think super evil Anonymous with a shit ton of resources and a diabolical plot). You see her arsenal as you’re introduced to her character, and it feels like Dom is just another weapon for her collection. The main conflict is that he turns against his team to do Cipher’s bidding, and she has a plan that could destroy the world. If you recall they stole DVD players in the original The Fast and the Furious movie. How far we’ve come.
The rest of the team gathers to stop Cipher while questioning why Dom could possibly turn his back on his beloved family. Dwayne Johnson returns as Luke Hobbs who’s always a highlight. Here they have him lift a lot of heavy objects and people and punch dents into steel walls and people, while delivering an endless supply of one liners. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, who appeared in Furious 7 as the shadowy government agent who seeks out Dom’s team for a top secret mission) calls on Hobbs and the rest of Dom’s rejected crew to take on Cipher and enlists the help of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to assist. I swear Statham was channeling Rick Ford from Spy because he was way funnier in this movie than the last. While it’s a stretch for the group to (albeit reluctantly) work with him, it’s a blast watching him and Johnson play off each other. Side note: the amazing Helen Mirren completely steals the show in her well-publicized cameo. I would watch a spin off based on her character.
The Fate of the Furious was just as much of a crowdpleaser as the last few in the series. My theater crowd was cheering throughout and all the notes director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton) and screenwriter Chris Morgan were going for landed very well. Morgan (who has written the last four movies) knows what he is doing with these characters and elevates this movie’s premise with tie-ins to past movies. While the story might delve into melodrama or defy logic at times that’s going to pass by without notice to the fans of the franchise. Especially when they’re all here for the insane action set pieces that these movies try to top with much success. They are completely ridiculous but they make for prime popcorn movie material. They also plainly use a ton of real life stunts which just helps sell some of the absurdity. While to Vin Diesel’s dismay this is still not landing any coveted awards, is that really the point? Sit back, pump the NOS, and enjoy the ride. (You didn’t think I’d end this without a car reference, did you?)
FTS SCORE: 73%