The Fate of the Furious Movie Review
Fast cars. Dumbness. Vin Diesel. The Fate of the Furious is exactly the movie you’d expect and perhaps even the movie you want: a fun, action-packed and semi-funny thrill ride that corrects course after its sub-par predecessor.
The franchise has never been a favorite of mine, namely because watching a bunch of guys jerk off to cars is simply not my idea of a good time. But while the first few Fast movies were rough, the franchise grew on me starting with movie #4 and largely won me over with Fast Five, which was an absolute blast (and introduced Dwayne Johnson into the mix). Fast & Furious 6 was pretty good, but Furious 7 was a letdown, an overly dumb mess of silly action and nonsensical storytelling.
The Fate of the Furious has a plot that is no more interesting than any of the plots that have come before, but director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) pulls the stupidity back just enough to bring the franchise back from the brink of complete ineptitude. The movie still stars Vin Diesel, of course, so you can never take things too seriously (even though he clearly does), and it still features the franchise’s ever-growing ensemble cast who are never all that great but are likable because they are more entertaining to watch than Vin Diesel… but Gray and returning screenwriter Chris Morgan make good use of them nonetheless.
In this go-around, Gray pulls in his The Italian Job star Charlize Theron to play the villain, and as villains go, she’s pretty damn fun to watch in a love-to-hate-her kind of way. Her character is a significant improvement over #7’s villain, played by Jason Statham, who unsurprisingly works much better as a protagonist in this iteration. Of course, Dwayne Johnson is back and between he, Statham and Diesel, there is no shortage of truly brutal PG-13 ass kicking.
And The Fate of the Furious boasts plenty of ass kicking and simply solid action sequences. As dumb as the movie is at times--the dialogue is laugh-out-loud ridiculous on occasion and the climax is just as over-the-top stupid as you’d expect--the movie is highly entertaining, fast paced and even exciting. Theron is so menacing there’s nothing she won’t do, which at least gives the film a slight sense of unpredictability. In turn, several of the action sequences--including a somewhat silly but impressively unique scene where Theron takes control of hundreds of self-driving cars to execute her plan--are elaborate and downright exciting, which is all you can really ask for.
The movie’s only true flaw: its length. There is no reason a movie this stupid needs to be two hours and 20 minutes no matter how many expensive cars get destroyed. Shave off 40 minutes, or even 20, and you have yourself a great action film; as is, it becomes tedious in parts.
The movie is too long and still has some unnecessary dumb moments, but The Fate of the Furious is a movie that knows its audience and what it wants to be and delivers on its promise to be loud, fast and fun as hell.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.