The Hate of the Furious.
That is what I expected heading into the latest installments, the eighth one, in the Fast and the Furious franchise. I saw the trailers for this film and I hated the whole Dom (Vin Diesel) turns on his team and sides with the bad guys angle they were telling.
I pictured a storyline involving hypnosis or amnesia that would border on the worst of the soap opera cliches that would have me rolling my eyes through the entire run time of Fate of the Furious.
But something weird happened as I was watching this movie that I was sure I was going to despise…
I was enjoying it.
One of the biggest problems that I anticipated turned into one of the film’s strengths. They were able to take the film’s reason for Dom turning on his “Family” (which, by the way, if you were playing a drinking game and took a shot every time someone mentioned family in this film, you would be drunk off your butt before the end of the first act), and make it viable. Not only was the reason viable, it was emotionally satisfying and it fit in with the character of Dom and it gave me a reason to root for him. I never thought that was possible, but that is exactly what happened.
The plot, as it were, was not anything special. On his honeymoon, Dom is approached by the villain of the film, Cipher (Charlize Theron) and she convinces him to start helping her (I will not spoil how she does the convincing). When the team heads into Germany to recover a powerful weapon, Dom turns on them, in particular Luke (Dwayne Johnson), and takes the weapon to Cipher.
Because of the betrayal, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) brings in Deckard (Jason Statham) to join the team and help track down Dom. Then, action set pieces ensue.
Sure, there are plenty of massive plot holes scattered throughout the Fate of the Furious, but none of those matter. You expect those types of problems in this film. The Fast and the Furious movie franchise is supposed to be big, dumb, physics-denying action sequences that are like car porn. Some times I think it is unfair to judge these movies with such a kaleidoscope. Certainly if this were another movie sans the Fast & the Furious name, we would rip it apart for lacking the basic tenets of filmmaking that this franchise does.
I guess the key is that the Fast and the Furious films have really become very entertaining.
The most entertaining aspect of the Fate of the Furious, far and away, was the interactions between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham. From the moment these two behemoths meet inside the high security prison, The Rock and Statham are trash talking at its highest level. Both men are ridiculously charismatic and they share a chemistry like few others might (I would watch the hell out of a spin off movie featuring these two). Because of this, the audience quickly forgets about the crimes that Deckard had committed in previous films, which included the murder of another of the “family”, Han (Sung Kang). Thanks to the Rock, as well as Statham’s work with another cast member in one of the more outrageous action set pieces on board an airplane, Deckard is redeemed.
However, it felt as if The Rock did start accepting Deckard too quickly. I would have enjoyed more of the antagonistic relationship between these two than what we got. And there was even less of the feeling of anger toward Deckard from the rest of the crew that made little sense.
Although I feel that there were few unbelievably ridiculous action set pieces in the Fate of the Furious, they had their share of moments where you can only suspend your disbelief so much. Twice they had people leaping from speeding cars going in excess of 200 miles an hour only to roll safely without a scratch on them. In a situation that should completely crush multiple bones, they are unscathed.
I also wish that whoever marketed this film would have held back the scene of the submarine crashing out from under the ice. Had that moment not been included in the trailer, I think that could have been a huge moment in the movie. As it was, I knew it was coming and I found it considerably less engaging. You could have saved that scene from being spoiled in the trailer and made it something out of this world.
The film also benefited from several smaller performances that had been added to the rest of the cast. Scott Eastwood joined the group as Mr. Nobody’s new rookie right hand man and he brings an interesting dynamic. Helen Mirren arrives in an important cameo (although her entire involvement was one of those moments that really stretched the credibility of the film). Kurt Russell is awesome as ever and I can’t wait for him to be Ego the Living Planet in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And there was a cool cameo from Luke Wilson as well.
I had no expectations of liking this movie. I was sure that the Dom “heel” turn was going to be ridiculous and would completely ruin the movie. I was wrong. That, as well as The Rock and Jason Statham, was the best reason to enjoy the movie. It is far from a perfect film, but it does entertain you.