‘The Fate of the Furious’: Too much fun for its own good

by Tim English on April 15, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Up]

You don’t need a review of The Fate of the Furious to know this movie is ridiculous. But then again, that’s the beauty of these movies. To be honest, for a franchise eight movies in, The Fate of the Furious — or as I will refer to it for the rest of this review: Ocho Furioso — has no business being as balls-out entertaining as it is.

The first movie since the death of Paul Walker finds the Furious family living in peace and enjoying freedom. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon when “fate” intervenes in the form of a cyber terrorist. When Dom is recruited by a mysterious woman named Cipher (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) to help start WWIII he has no choice but to accept her offer and betray his team!

This series has always been about Dom and his family, his team, so this is the ultimate test. Dude ain’t got friends, he got family. I won’t drop the secret reasons he turns to the dark side. It’s fairly justified, even if it feels a little trite. But fuck it. Who cares? Nobody watches this crap for the plot. This is a universe in which the military turns to The Rock and his street racing, thieving friends when the world needs saving. I’m guessing their number is just below The Avengers on the autodial.

But that family is the main reason these films continue to work in the realm of insanity they do. It’s all about that family. Despite all of the behind the scenes drama, it’s always been obvious these mofos love working together and making these films. Their chemistry is amazing. You believe they are family and it makes it fun to tag along for the ride. And just about everyone is back….except obviously for Brian and Mia … and that dude from Tokyo Drift.

Ocho Furioso is not going to win any Oscars. Not for acting anyway. But I will say, Vin has some pretty heavy dramatic scenes and he kicks the hell out of those too. Of course, it helps most of his scenes are with Theron, whose talent helps elevate the movie above the dumbed down, ridonkulous plot.

Dwayne Johnson is, well….The Rock. And he’s perfect. Not sure this dude could “disappear” into any character at this point, but fuck it. Dude is fun to watch and he’s chewing the shit out of the scenery here. I won’t spoil some of the cameos. Jason Statham is back as Deckard Shaw, having played the baddie in the last flick. This time he’s supposed to team up with the Furious gang and he steals every friggin’ scene he’s in. Watch out for Helen Mirren as mama Shaw.

Ocho Furioso takes us on a globe trotting whirlwind adventure as the team sets out to either stop Dom and the hottie that turned him, or bring him back to the good side and figure out what the fuck his deal is. The film opens in Cuba, marking the first Hollywood movie to film IN Cuba. So that’s something. The Furious bunch also filmed in Germany, New York (also Georgia — hello tax credits — next time give us a call in KC, Universal!) … before filming the epic finale in Iceland.

Okay. Want some bad stuff just to ease your mind? No. It’s not perfect. First of all, it’s far too long, clocking in at just over 2 hours and 15 minutes if you sit through the credits — P.S., don’t do that. There’s no end credits scene. Then there is the Fast and Furious timeline, which may be even more fucked than Fox’s X-Men timeline.

But despite all that? This movie is fun as fuck. I really don’t know how they keep doing it. I think the beauty of this franchise is after Tokyo Drift when they got Paul and Vin back for the “reboot”, they made the decision there would be no kidding anyone about what kind of movies these are. And Ocho takes full advantage of its audience’s willingness to ignore little things like gravity and science and well, reality basically.

Credit goes to director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) for being able to orchestrate such an entertaining flick and mixing in some real effect drama into situations that seem more fitted for a Road Runner cartoon. He knows what he’s getting into. There’s a formula here. It’s goofy. It’s ridiculous. But it’s working on a plane of lunacy that really knows no equal right now, and Gray indulges.

The Fate of the Furious is not the best of the bunch. It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but dammit if this crap isn’t still just fun to watch. Thanks to a strong cast that seems to be having too much fun together, Ocho Furioso is shockingly entertaining and one of the most thrilling of the series.

Lover of movies and tacos. Ad man. Author. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast.

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