Director: F. Gary Grey
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rated: PG-13 (For prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language)
During a scene where a rocket is shot across a Russian lake from a nuclear armed submarine, I looked down and realized how pointless my job was. In no universe can I critically or articulately describe the inherent value of a missile trying to blow up five fancy sports cars. This is a movie that lives by its own rules and those are the rules people pay to see. They aren’t looking for anything deeper than cars, babes, and bullets, and I suppose neither am I in this case. Still, “The Fate of the Furious” came dangerously close to testing my patience. I appreciate that these later installments continue to be about something other than street racing and the characters are practically like family at this point, but I do wonder how much longer it can go. The series has been about street racing, heists, and now we have a spy thriller. Maybe a future movie will have the characters in space and the series can then tackle sci-fi?
In “The Fate of the Furious” Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is enjoying his honeymoon with new wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), when he is approached by a woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron), a computer hacker who wants Dom’s help for something very important, and appears to have the dirt on him to make him betray his values. He does turn on his ‘family’ and helps the evil woman, which gives the movie plenty of time to hammer in the fact that the bond of family is the strongest bond there is. Yep, they do this so much that it makes some of the Disney movies seem tame in comparison. The message is also heightened because with Dom’s betrayals, that means friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and…it all sort of works out in the end. At one point, none of Dom’s friends can figure out why he has turned on them, and consider calling his best friend Brian to ask his advice. Brian, you may recall, was played by Paul Walker.
His character was retired after the actor’s unfortunate death, and I mulled over the fact in my previous review that by not killing his character it would create story holes in the future. Conversations like these especially makes me shake my head and think “my job is pointless.” Why give good advice when no one takes it? No one answer that for me; I would prefer to live in ignorant bliss than confront that one. Oh well, what is here at least functions. For a movie as brainless as this none of the characters do anything outrageously stupid. In fact, for a movie where every implausible thing you can imagine happens, it is all done with a sense of logic and gravity. Maybe not realism, but there is a weight to it that most action movies fail to grasp. It probably helps that the movie was directed by F. Gary Grey, who directed another car based action movie “The Italian Job” (he also directed the fantastic “Straight Outta Compton,” but I’m at a loss for how that information helps here).
I guess one of these days I’ll tire of these movies, but whether that will matter or not is of little consequence at this moment in time. Right now, if you want lots of action and snarky humor, “The Fate of the Furious” is going to fill that need. It somehow manages to come off as feeling like the result of severe test marketing, yet manages to be a lot of fun regardless. I do caution the film makers to avoid the redundancy of the earlier films though. Keep the car chases to a minimum, have good antagonists, and always have an end goal in mind. Do all that, then I believe they can get away with shooting off Russian missiles for years to come. And, so long as they make them (and as long as I’m alive), I will review them to the best of my abilities. I understand this to be a futile and maybe not the most practical use of my time or abilities but, eh, I must admit that I have fun doing it.
Parents, there is the usual amount of high octane car action and girls dressed to be pleasing on the eyes. Minor language as well. Recommended for ages 13 and up.