This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“The Fate of the Furious” is directed by F. Gary Gray and brings back all the familiar faces; Diesel, Johnson, Statham, Rodriguez, Ludacris and Tyrese. As well as more screen-time from Kurt Russell and the newly added Charlize Theron.
Now before diving into my thoughts on this movie I will say I actually love this franchise. There have been some hit-or-miss entries but over the years this franchise has gone from small scale street racing films, to full on international heist films, and it has been a fun ride.
I admit, I do miss the street racing element the first few films whole heartedly embraced but things change over time and this franchise has certainly has had fun with that. You can say what you want about these movies, can critical of the acting, the dialogue, and the absurdity of it all, and no one will try to argue that with you. But despite all that, this franchise has turned the ridiculousness into pure fun and for all their short comings, the fun adventure these movies always deliver, make them worth a watch.
Now I was very curious how this franchise would continue without Paul Walker. I thought the 7th film would have been a fitting end to the series but almost always, dollar signs speak louder than gut feelings. So, we have this 8th movie, one that was fun without a doubt, but also one that for the first time in my opinion suffered from the very things that used to make these movies so entertaining.
All of these movies on the back end of the franchise have celebrated the ridiculousness in an effectively entertaining way. Like here’s this wild story we want to tell and this is all the action and absurdity you will get along the way. This film felt overly self-aware and more like, here are these wild scenes we want in this movie, and what kind of story can we connect it all together with.
Like I said before, this is a pure testosterone injected soap-opera and like those often do, the story-dynamics evolve well past ridiculous and into the range of just dumb. The over-the-top spectacle was always amazing and the dialogue was always delivered with a charm, but in this movie, it came off forced, and trying extremely WAY too hard to be ridiculous and serious at the same time that it brushes with stupid way too often.
I know with these movies the dialogue and performances are not what you should be expecting to blow you away. But the dialogue was so incredibly dumb that it was leaps and bounds more eye-roll worthy than any of the past scripts. Sure the lines are intentionally laughable at times and the performances certainly add some charisma to them at times. There were many moments that land, but there were also many, many, times you will laugh AT this film and not along with it like they clear intention was. But like I said with some well know cast members and all the familiar faces, many of them make the most out of it.
But we get all the usual explanations from Ludacris, the screaming and yelling from Tyrese and Vin Diesel coming in and out between actually trying in some scenes and coming off as being amused by himself in others.
Let’s not even really try and digest the story, it is not needed, and this plot-line was simply a go-between for the action. It’s the usual we need the team together to save the world scenario, with one major twist and it serves its purpose for keeping the pace moving. But it does add some near idiotic twists and layers that were laughable and dumb even for soap-opera standards.
Charlize Theron was a very capable villain in this story, or as much as the story would allow her to be. She makes the material work and she feels natural in the role of the antagonist and certainly makes a great addition to this movie overall, as well as injecting a bit of credibility into the generic character she was portraying.
I will also say, for in a film that is in its 8th installment, that without the newer characters this entire movie would have felt incredibly stale. The older cast members felt like they were all going through the motions and it was easily the performances of Johnson, Theron, Russell, and Statham that carry this movie along. Johnson and Statham were both great in this movie and deliver some fantastic scenes both in the action department and the humor. Theron was like a said, a very good villain and her performance was so good at times, it almost didn’t even fit into the movie. And the great Kurt Russell is awesome in anything, and as the mysterious Mr. Nobody, he is fantastic.
Now as for the action, it was great. It was wild and over-the-top and a great time to sit back and watch. Like the past films there are handfuls of miraculously absurd action-sequences from some great fighting, pretty much all by Johnson and Statham. Some great sequences in Cuba, Russia and in New York. And like the films prior these segments were all inventive and incredibly ambitious.
This was a fun movie to sit back and watch, it creates massive amounts of turn-your-brain off adventure to completely lock in your attention from start-to-finish and from that aspect it was a success. There are some awesome scenes from the chase out on the ice to a great prison fight. Hordes of hacked car flying out of a building and racing through New York and a great fight scene on a plane.
But this movie focused too much on being silly, and forgot how to take itself seriously, and STILL deliver the mindless ridiculousness at the same time and to me that small change resulted in a big different onscreen. There were also some minor issues with the cinematography. Now all the chase sequences and general action scenes were well shot and stunning to watch, but when it came down to the fight-sequences that evil over-editing bug crept in like it often does.
There were some awesome scenes from Statham in particular, that could have been much more compelling had the editing tamed the cuts down a bit. If the camera could have pulled out and let the performers work through their movies and maybe wrapped around for some panning shots more than cutting to various angles in such quick successions the flow on-screen would have been much more adrenaline pumping.
But with so many other things happening throughout it doesn’t hinder the fun too much. The horrendous dialogue does that all on its own, yet it does create many unintentional laughs. This sequel did entertain though. When it was on, it on, and when it was off, it was way off. But if you have enjoyed all these films over the years there will certainly be some fun to be found.