Film in review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
The Winonan's film reporter rates this film 2.5/5 stars

The Winonan’s film reporter rates this film 2.5/5 stars

Nate Nelson / Winonan

“The Fate of the Furious” is the eighth film in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, and at this point, the films are beginning to show their cracks. While “Fast Five” was the closest thing to perfection for these slightly campy, overindulgent car films, “Furious 7” gave the series a proper ending after the death of star Paul Walker. “Fate” feels like nothing more than a cookie cutter cash grab made to keep the franchise afloat. With everything you expect and nothing you don’t, “The Fate of the Furious” is living proof that even the most successful franchises need to wrap up eventually.

Since the first film’s release in 2001, the “Fast and Furious” franchise has known what it was—easily digestible action blockbusters. The films aren’t supposed to make viewers think, or present challenging themes or even have a radically inventive story. All they want to provide is a fun time at the movies. For the most part, the films have succeeded. Their focus on a charismatic team, led by Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel), gave the series a boost of energy in the drastically overfilled action genre in the early 2000s. In this latest entry, Dom is extorted by the terrorist known as Cipher (Charlize Theron) into fighting against his own team.

Now, most of the films in the series have decently founded stories. While they may dive into clichés every now and again, they always proved to be fun in their own way. “Fate,” on the other hand, is a scattershot mess of a story. It’s almost as if the writers were throwing darts at a grid of potential plot points and seeing what stuck. “Jailbreak? Alright. Flying cars? We can do that. Submarine race? That’s weird, but let’s find a way to do it!” Any semblance of realism or even

continuity is thrown out the window in favor of a bullet point list of a plot that solely existed as a vehicle for testosterone filled car chases and badly choreographed fight scenes. It’s like the filmmakers suddenly decided that the story doesn’t matter, as long as the film looks pretty, which could potentially work if the film didn’t seem so messy.

Despite this, the action in the film isn’t terrible. In fact, it can be exhilarating at times. But exhilarating doesn’t exactly translate to fun. The first third of the film jumps from location to location at a rapid pace. Each set piece is interspersed with quick moments of exposition and “plot.” Those action sequences, while well shot in their own right, are mind-numbingly simplistic with a complete lack of stakes. Everything is punctuated with quips and playful banter which, while it gives some welcome levity to action sequences, doesn’t work at all when given moments after their leader’s betrayal.  Admittedly, seeing hundreds of cars barrel down the streets of New York City at top speed is pretty rad, but that doesn’t cut it after seven other films laden with the same stuff (“Tokyo Drift” is the exception, but the racing in that one is so slick it’s not even fair.)

The story doesn’t just fail in pacing and concepts, but with the characters too. The past seven films, aside from “Tokyo Drift,” work to establish the franchise’s lovable group of ruffians, and the relationships between them. While some films worked better than others, each installment pushed the team further and further. In “The Fate of the Furious,” there are no changes whatsoever. Aside from one extra baby added to the team, in the end all of the development and potential for change is squandered and everything is back to the happy-go-lucky norms they began with. If you’re going to make a film about betrayal, commit! Don’t just use it as a one-off plot point that easily resolves in the end.

I suppose the film eventually does what it intends to. While it doesn’t do anything new or particularly well, it is a completely serviceable action film. For those who want explosions, jokes and nonstop bombast, “The Fate of the Furious” does deliver. It isn’t a bad film, per se, but a completely average one. That said, the past three films showed that the vehicular action film could be something much more than just mindless summer entertainment. They could actually show emotion and get audiences invested in the characters. This newest entry is the worst film in the series since “2 Fast 2 Furious,” and does a lot to undo the accomplishments of the past few years. It’ll still make money, and there are already two more sequels greenlit, but the series feels past its prime. No longer fast and barely furious, this series either needs to kick into high gear or drive off into the sunset already. 2.5/5

The following two tabs change content below.

« | Home | »

Comments are closed.