Fate of the Furious: Running on the fumes of more entertaining predecessors

It’s the eighth Fast and Furious movie, and this time, it’s personal.

…again.

Before we get into this extra short review, here’s a spoiler free plot synopsis:

Dominic Turetto’s crew has taken on tanks, planes, hacking software, and even gravity. This time, however, they’re up against the one thing they can’t handle: Dominic Turetto himself.

Yep, the bald guy whose voice sounds like two rocks scraping on each other is now turning against his own family. Why is he doing this? What role does the mysterious new villain play in all this?

Watch the movie to find out!

…if you’re down for a mildly entertaining time.

Fate of the Furious stumbles where its predecessors coasted, and it’s hard to pinpoint why. For one, Paul Walker is gone, and his absence is definitely felt. He was as integral to the franchise as its cars, and without him, it’s definitely not the same.

It’s not fair to say Fate’s problem is that it’s too dumb, because it was the dumb, over the top, lovable aesthetic that made this franchise so successful. I thought Fast Five, Fast and Furious 6, and Furious 7 were all fun movies.

So why is Fate of the Furious not?

In the previous movies, when the rules of logic or physics are disregarded, it results in a more entertaining experience. In this one, however, it cheapens the scene, softens the stakes, and places the audience in a world where nothing makes sense.

Governments don’t exist, characters betray and forgive each other for no reason, entire cities are reduced to playgrounds for a handful of drag racers, and there are absolutely no consequences.

Without consequences, there is no meaning. The film becomes, despite it’s impressive set pieces, pointless.

Is it a bad movie, though?

It definitely gets painfully close to crossing that line, but it has enough strengths that certain people will have a good time while others will leave disappointed. So let’s discuss the strengths.

The first one being the inclusion of Jason Statham into the crew. He’s tough, mean, charismatic, and he is the center of every scene he’s in. Statham adds the salt-of-the-earth no-bullshit persona that the franchise desperately needs; in the middle of destroying landmark cities, Statham seems to be the only one looking at the audience and saying, “This is getting a little ridiculous.”

Which is definitely needed.

Secondly, the Rock kills it, as always, whether it’s action or comedy or being a father. Watching Dwayne beat people up is universally enjoyable, like seeing a puppy jump or elephants be romantic with their trunks.

Although slightly different in aesthetic.

The movie’s also full of surprises. There’s cameos, twists, and new characters galore. The franchise does a great job at refueling at each installment, and there’s always someone new that we’d like to see come back in the next chapter.

Fast and Furious never claimed to be high art. The franchise has valued entertainment and easily accessible emotional overtones over realism, and that’s paid off for it so far. Even in this movie, when it works it really works.

But this addition to the series is definitely a step too far into the realm of the ridiculous. The saddest thing about the film’s shortcomings is that each of them would have been lessened if not fixed by Paul Walker. With Paul, every situation seemed like it was in control. It was him and Dom against the world, and they reassured the audience that the heroes could (believably) come in and save the day.

With Paul gone and Dom out of the team, the film floats in a vacuum, with nothing to ground it and little for the audience to hold onto.

The film’s not out and out bad, but it definitely fails to live up to the standards of its predecessors. It’s no death knell for the franchise, but I definitely hope the next one fixes these mistakes before it’s allowed on the road.

Overall: 6/10

Double Major, Engineering and Literature, spends his free time flirting with ice cream sandwiches, taking pictures, and writing about himself in third person.

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