Dog’s Movie House: “Fate Of The Furious” More Insane Automotive Mayhem!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
When “The Fast And The Furious” came out in 2000 I found myself mildly amused at Rob Cohen’s somewhat clunky automotive version of “Point Break.” The movie made Vin Diesel a star and served as the beginning of one of Hollywood’s move lucrative movie franchises. The two films that followed did not feature Diesel (aside from a brief cameo at the end of “Tokyo Drift”) and the law of diminishing box office returns seemed to indicate the end of the series after just three films. But then a funny thing happened. . .director Justine Lin (who helmed “Tokyo Drift”) got together with the original cast of the first film and, along with screenwriter Chris Morgan, reinvented the franchise by focusing on the outlandish heist aspects of the story, turning the films into “Ocean’s 11” on steroids. The result has been an ever-escalating series of crazy action packed films that get bigger and bolder with each entry. “Fate Of The Furious,” the eighth film in the series, continues this trend and that’s a good thing.
“Fate Of The Furious” involves Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) enjoying his honeymoon with his new bride Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in Cuba. Before long he’s confronted by a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) who basically blackmails Dom into turning on his crew and working for her. The plot involves something about EMP devices, nuclear codes, the God’s Eye (from the last film) and one big-assed submarine, but the narrative is simply the skeletal framework for new director F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton) to serve up new and over-the-top action pieces that continue to defy the laws of physics. Using a skillful combination of CGI and practical stunt work, Gray continues in the tradition of Justin Lin and James Wan of talented directors creating exciting entertainment out of outlandish stories.
While the stories may be outlandish, writer Morgan has had several films to get the characters right, and “Fate” continues the tradition. Diesel has never been better as Dom, and his dilemma actually wrings some real suspense out of the script. Theron makes for a terrific villain as her icy, ruthless demeanor gives her a terrific chemistry with the volatile Diesel. Returning cast members Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, and Nathalie Emmanuel do decent work although their parts are somewhat underwritten. The same goes for newcomer Scott Eastwood who will probably get more play in future movies but for now serves as comic relief as Russell’s green-as-grass protégé.
The real standouts in this film are Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. These cats steal the show as former enemies forced to work together. Their verbal byplay, while not Shakespearean in quality, is a comedic hoot to watch and their collective charisma is off the charts. Statham in particular seems to be having a ball here and his byplay with an infant during a battle with Cipher’s thugs in one of the series’ high points.
The long and short of it is this: If you dig this franchise and the bat-crap crazy action it embodies, you’re going to love this movie. It’s a fun night at the movies that doesn’t tax the brain but entertains mightily for much of its two-hour plus running time. This film is well-crafted mayhem with a heart and is worthy of your hard-earned dough. If you don’t like the other films in this series, don’t even bother buying a ticket. 4 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth the Kendog!