Friday, April 14, 2017

Movie with Abe: The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Released April 14, 2017

It’s rare that a franchise is still going strong eight installments in. This series debuted sixteen years ago, went forward without one of its lead actors for films two and three, and is now charging along even after the death of its other lead actor. These films, which don’t jive at all with my usual cinematic tastes, deliver an adrenaline thrill that is equal parts awesome and ridiculous. There were enough moments to defy death, and logic, in the previous few installments, yet this movie, which represents a return to form after a weak seventh entry, goes even bigger in every possible way.

Trailers for this blockbuster showed signature character Dom (Vin Diesel) going rogue and betraying his team to ally with an evil hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Fortunately, the film presents events in a narrative, linear form, and all that’s left up in the air is what leverage Cipher has to make Dom work with her, which is gradually revealed over the course of the action. It’s all hands on deck, with former enemies Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard (Jason Statham) teaming up with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) to help government agents Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new protege (Scott Eastwood) stop Cipher and take Dom down with her.

This film sets its tone definitively when, in the first scene, Dom is seen racing a car by driving it backwards while it’s completely on fire. Without spoiling some of the other great action scenes, it’s fair to say that this film thrives on purposeful excess. Why would anyone - hero or villain - take the easy route of using technology or skill to solve a problem in the most direct and obvious manner instead of putting on a big show just for the hell of it? That’s the motto of this film, which features even more spectacular destruction of cars and property, and makes the most of its stars’ physical strength and brawn to feature them using nothing more than their muscles in battle, which is only questionably more believable than many of the stunts pulled off in the film.

More than anything, this series continues to be about people who love driving fast cars. When Dom’s team is shown into a warehouse of cars seized from drug dealers, it’s as if they’re in heaven. When his car gets dinged, Dom shakes and reels in pain, as if one with it. The acting isn’t what’s important in this movie, though there’s a good deal of comic relief thanks in large part to Gibson and Johnson. The driving, the action, and the stunts are all great, and any plot holes are filled in by this film series’ commitment to making it all exciting. Though the absence of a post-credits scene gave me pause, I’m relieved to know that films nine and ten are already in the works, and I’m pumped.


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