Hi, my name is Brady and I am not a fan of Fast and the Furious. I have my reasons: The action is often so over the top that it borders on dumb. Vin Diesel has the personality of a cardboard box. Tyrese’s character is just a useless clown. And the convoluted plots seem as if they were created by watching a kindergartner play with action figures. But, at its best, this franchise that has now spanned 16 years is young Expendables with eye popping action meant for mindless, “turn your brain off and watch” fun. So whether I like it or not, here we go again.
The Fate of the Furious takes place shortly after Furious 7 (If you are a newcomer to the series, you’ll need to have seen at least parts 5 through 7 to understand half of it). After marrying girlfriend Letty (Michele Rodriguez), crew leader Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is approached by a terrorist hacker named Cypher (Charlize Theron) who blackmails him into turning on his team. Kurt Russell returns as Mr. Nobody, a U.S. government agent who along with his new assistant (Scott Eastwood), assembles Toretto’s former team of thieves, cops, hackers and street racers, (Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Tyrese Gipson, Nathalie Emmanuel) to track him and Cypher down.
The first third of the film is almost gag inducing to anyone who shares my same sentiments about this franchise. As always, there’s a next to irrelevant and predictable street race to open the film, followed by rushed exposition, Dwayne Johnson being a real life version of The Hulk, and Tyrese’s Roman Pearce continuing to be one of the most useless characters in all of cinema. We get it. He’s comic relief, but what is his actual purpose on the team? In this film it takes him two hours to do anything worthwhile. When the cast isn’t shoving the constant concept of family down your throat (Hey guys, did you know they’re a family!), the characters are spitting out cliché line after line.
But about an hour in, things shockingly improve. This is due in large part to the presence of Charlize Theron who noticeably brings her A-game as the film’s villain. Her cunning and ominously intimidating character seems plucked right out of a James Bond movie and provides the fuel for all of the film’s most dramatic scenes. Her portrayal even lifts that of Vin Diesel who easily gives his most believable performance yet. That’s not to say things improve too much. There’s still a bunch of off the wall plot twists and ridiculous character arcs (Jason Statham’s a good guy now? Didn’t he kill one of their “family members”?) that keep things from being too likable.
Like with all of these movies, and most in the genre, things work best when everyone shuts the hell up and drives/fights. The action manages to ramp things up to even more ridiculous levels than in previous films and as such there are plenty of moments where logic and laws of physics be damned. But seeing as how making sense isn’t a prerequisite for entertainment, the action in Fate of the Furious is pretty exciting. Coupled with a worthy adversary that helps counterbalance some of the more useless additions (Looking at you Scott Eastwood), this movie manages to avoid being terrible and winds up landing on the more tolerable end of the Fast and Furious spectrum.
FINAL GRADE: C