The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/20/17
Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, cameos by Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Helen Mirran

"Why are you always yelling?"

Painfully stupid and downright annoying at times, but features some fantastic stunts, incredible camera work, and cutting edge visual effects. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are spending their honeymoon in Cuba when a mysterious woman known as Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray his friends and become a member of her elite terrorist organization. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) brings together Dom's old team along with Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to take Dom out. Everything eventually leads to an outrageous showdown at a frozen Russian submarine base where all hell breaks loose.

The "Fast And Furious" films aren't known for having realistic and coherent plots, but this one seems to be more absurd than the rest. It's difficult to make cyber-terrorism dramatic and visually interesting, and whenever computers get involved in the narrative, plausibility flies right out the window. It's also extremely boring watching people stare at monitors and type on keyboards, since I do that all day long. Vin Diesel flexes his acting muscles a bit more this time around, which is nice to see, but it's Charlize Theron's wicked villain who steals the show. She's fantastically cold, cruel, and calculating, and sizzles with evil intensity. Unfortunately, she's also strapped with some utterly deplorable dialog, which tends to undermine her character. However, she's such an excellent actress that she still manages to make it work without becoming a total parody. Jason Statham's character redeems himself as a hero, but the baby sequence is forcefully awkward and painfully unfunny. Michelle Rodriguez is delightful and gets into a couple of really nice fights, but she's the sole femme fighter this time around.

Thankfully, the action scenes are exciting enough to keep you mostly distracted from the story and the irritating dialog. Vehicular mayhem and destruction occurs on a massive scale, and it's exhilarating seeing so many cars being destroyed. Modern car scenes are almost entirely computer animated these days, and the action looks fabulous. Only the scenes with dozens of cars in New York look unconvincing. The camera work is also quite spectacular, which is something you tend to take for granted these days. But as I started paying more attention to it, the more I was amazed by how certain shots were filmed and assembled. Unfortunately, while Jason Statham's fighting scenes are very good, the camera work tends to be overly loose and sloppy when trying to follow his movements.

The film has a couple of nice nods to the late Paul Walker, and by the time the credits roll, nearly everyone is back together as one big, happy family, with full pardons and no accountability for all of the death and destruction they caused. But sadly, some sacrifices had to be made along the way, which I found disheartening. The franchise has just about wrung itself dry, so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. The film has a definite sense of finality to it (and so did "Furious 7"), but if there's money to be made, Universal will figure out a way to keep the series going.