The Fate of the Furious
Jacob Richardson | 18/04/2017
Without the heart of Fast and Furious 7 or the sheer bombastic fun of Fast Five, The Fate of the Furious represents a fun, but middling adventure for Dom and the crew.
The Fate of the Furious opens with Dom and Letty on honeymoon in Cuba. After a suitably brash drag race, Dom runs into Cipher played by Charlize Theron who seemingly blackmails him into working for her. As Cipher sends Dom around the world, from New York to Russia, in the hunt for various weapons of mass destruction, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) brings the team together with an old enemy to try and stop Cipher.
Since Fast Five, the Fast and Furious franchise has been on a law of diminishing returns, and that is certainly true of this instalment. Fate eschews any sense of comprehendible story. It is utterly ludicrous in its lack of detail, a fact most expressly evident in Charlize Theron’s cipher. With blonde dreadlocks and a dangerous penchant for murdering people, she spends most of her time shouting lines at a computer screen. She is the most ineffective villain the franchise has ever had, whilst also attempting to paint her as the architect of all of Dom’s pain in the previous 3 prequels underwhelm.
Vin Diesel also falters as Dom. Director F Gary Gray gives us two tales; one, the usual ball-to-the-wall insane car story, and the other a tale of betrayal. Dom’s arc encompasses the latter, and the tone jars with what we expect and want from this film. Diesel mutters and glowers his way through the vast majority of the movie, and it makes us long for the joys of his honeymoon; those first five screen minutes where his cocky swagger dominated the screen.
F Gary Gray clearly doesn’t have as much of a handle on this material as Justin Lin or James Wan did, and this is particularly clear in the action sequences. The New York sequence, where Cipher hijacks seemingly every car in the city in a wave of CGI mayhem, is limp and disinteresting, and even the final battle in Russia has a distinct whiff of ‘been there, done that’. Maybe Fast and Furious needs to go into space to do something new, or maybe it just needs a director with more artistic flair and persona when it comes to action.
While it may be nice to speculate about what a Wes Anderson or David Fincher Fast and Furious would look like, it would be remiss to write off F Gary Gray’s entire film, because there are some redeeming parts. Kurt Russel’s Mr Nobody is incredibly fun, perfectly offset against Scott Eastwoods rookie agent Little Nobody. Helen Mirren is also excellent in her brief appearance as the mother of previous villains Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). In the end though, it is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham who make this watchable. Their back and forth banter and sweat-beaded musculature makes for truly enjoyable watching, and Statham’s big action sequence, complete with massive gun fire and a baby, is the best moment in the movie. Statham seems to be having genuine fun, and it’s hard not to join him when you get to watch something so preposterous.
F Gary Gray’s instalment in the behemoth franchise misses many of the marks, particularly when it comes to it’s leads and plot, but regains some of its footing when he gives it room to breathe with some of the side characters. An average, predictable and unremarkable instalment in a franchise where anything but improbably outlandish and physically impossible stunts should be considered a failure.