Preposterous is not a word most filmmakers would like to have applied to their work but in the case of the “Fast and Furious” franchise I think it is what they are going for. Somewhere along the way the down-‘n’-dirty car chase flicks veered from sublimely silly to simply silly.
Perhaps it was the wild train heist in “Fast Five,” or the entirety of “Tokyo Drift” or the skyscraper-to-skyscraper jump from “Fast and Furious 7.” What ever it was, at some point in the sixteen years someone decided more is really more. Bigger stunts, more stars and more pedal-to-the-metal action, which leads us to “The Fate of the Furious.”
This latest slab of preposterous bombastity begins in Havana. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are honeymooning when, surprise, surprise and unexpected car race breaks out. Although clearly out gunned (SPOILER ALERT ONLY IF THE OUTCOME WASN’T SO PREDICTABLE) Dom wins, his car speeding backwards and engulfed in flames.
As if that wouldn’t be enough for most movies, we’re then introduced to criminal mastermind Ciper (Charlize Theron). As her name implies, she’s a tricky one, and soon Dom has turned his back on his crew—Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Tej (Ludacris)—to work for her. Why? Not sure. She shows him something on a mobile phone screen that changes his once unbending loyalty to his peeps. “You’re going to abandon your crew and shatter your family,” Cipher snarls. “Your team is about to go against the only thing they can’t handle—you.” She has highfalutin ideas about holding the world accountable for it’s sins ands who better to help her than a grease monkey with a raspy voice and a can-do attitude?
In another part of the story covert ops team leader, the excellently named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) convinces Dom’s old crew to work for him again. The plan this time involves tossing Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in prison to aid the escape of assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).
Throw in a series of exotic locations—he movie zips from Cuba to New York City to Russia and every where in between as Hobbs and crew try to understand Dom’s defection while at the same time stop him from amassing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. That’s right, a series once satisfied with fast cars and socket wrenches now concerns itself with WMDs.
“The Fate of the Furious” is fast, furious but it’s not much fun. It’s an unholy mashup of James Bond and the Marvel Universe, a movie bogged down by outrageous stunts and too many characters. Someone really should tell Diesel and Company that more is not always more.
The love of family is the subtext that that bonds the all the movies together is given lip service but little else. Despite aspiring to be “The Brothers Karamazov” with muscle cars, the movie is little more than a preposterous demolition derby that values vehicular wham bam thank you ma’am over anything else.
In the classic sense it does prove the old theory that for every action there’s a reaction… and a one liner. “They’re going to flank us!” “No they ain’t,” yelps Hobbs as he punts a military vehicle into outerspace. It’s a catchphrase-a-looza where the characters don’t actually talk to one another, they trade quips.
“The Fate of the Furious” is big, loud and while the “Zombie Time” gag of switching on all the cars in a ten-block New York City neighbourhood, then having them perform a street ballet of a sort, is kind of cool, but is a highlight in a film filled with things we’ve seen before. It’s almost worth the price of admission for the Vin Diesel One Single Tear Scene© but you can’t help but feel that tear would be better shed for the “Fast & Furious’” lost fun factor.