Very few film fans could have predicted the sensational longevity that The Fast and the Furious franchise has endured since the original film’s simple Point Break with cars conception way back in 2001. It is a longevity that has at times strained cinematic credibility, even more than the length of the runway scene in The Fast and the Furious 6. But it is the franchise’s hyperbolic flamboyance that has kept fans of the series coming back time and time again for more audacious adrenaline-fuelled adventures.
As somebody who isn’t particularly a fan of the franchise in general it would be churlish of me to judge The Fate of the Furious entirely through the prism of the audience that it isn’t intended for this late into the series. After all, once you get this far into a franchise it almost becomes a genre in its own right and I will be conducting my film review based on that perspective. While it is true that the series reached its peak by the time Fast Five was completed, or indeed by the time the original was finished, depending on who you ask. The series has become a colossal cauldron of larger than life characters, dream match ups, macho-motional storylines and action sequences that defy any kind of logic. Not to mention, more people coming back from dead than a George Romero zombie flick.
The Fate of the Furious continues this tradition when it is at its best, which excuses the lacklustre nonsensical plot and the stagnant family first rhetoric that Dom (Vin Diesel) has been spouting since the very beginning. The characters are very stale at this point but the film relies heavily on the fans’ lust for interactions between action mega stars like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. It is the dream interactions between stars such as these that breathes fresh life into the franchise this late into the series and bypasses much of the limitations of the characters.
The plot of this film centres around a super villain played by Charlize Theron who, for reasons unbeknownst to the audience, convinces Dom to work for her and betray those closest to him. It is the most convoluted, lacklustre plot device that had me fast becoming furious and one of my most hated tropes in movies. I can never understand why characters being blackmailed can’t take two minutes out of their day to just tell their allies why they have turned. But of course they don’t because there wouldn’t be film without this ploy and holding back a character’s motivation is meant to generate intrigue and wonder in the audience, but guess what? It doesn’t.
The film, despite starting strongly, meanders under a myriad of exposition and nonsense for some time because of this ridiculous plot contrivance before thankfully finding its feet with a few genuinely breathtaking sequences later on in the film. When The Fate of the Furious concentrates on these silly yet larger than life pulsating implausible set pieces it is at its best and quickly makes you forget about its many failings. There are also a few genius scenes between Statham and one character that made me anxious for a spin off movie between the two of them, which is high praise when you realise what I am talking about.
Fans of the Furious will get everything they expect going in, and more. For everybody else, I think there is enough genuine action gold in this film to at least entertain in satisfyingly silly ways.
Originally published on April 12, 2017 for UK Film Review.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Chris Morgan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Charlize Theron.