The eighth film in the shockingly successful franchise has arrived, and unfortunately there is no end in sight. The eight films have grossed just under $4 billion worldwide, with production budgets totaling just over one billion (the-numbers.com). It’s a no-brainer from the studio perspective, but I find myself wondering, what is it about this franchise that keeps people coming back time and time again?
It can’t be Vin Diesel or Michelle Rodriguez, or the A-list stars that keep getting thrown on this monstrosity of a franchise. Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell have joined the mix over the years, and we could only speculate what F9 has in store for us. Might I suggest some Jackie Chan involvement?
Fast cars, absurd action and expensive effects — that’s it. There’s nothing particularly magical to this formula for success. People love seeing things blow up, and people love fast cars.
Vin Diesel has seemingly developed a cult following as Dominic Toretto — cooler than James Bond, better behind the wheel than Mario Andretti. He has a soft spot for family (and he keeps reminding us this). It’s ludicrous, and I don’t mean Chris Bridges, who plays the computer nerd in the ever-growing group of renegade drivers, both in size and reputation.
The team is given top-secret missions by the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell in his wheelhouse), and this time, Dominic goes rogue. But why? Evil genius computer hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) has her talons deep into the team, and they need exotic cars and cringe-worthy one-liners to stop her from launching nukes.
Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson and Charlize Theron lend their star power to what would be equally successful without their involvement. Statham got to show off his martial arts moves, Johnson got to show off his herculean physique, and Theron was surprisingly sinister and convincing, although her character’s motives are what makes this film flimsy and unbelievable.
To my chagrin, Scott Eastwood fills the archetypal role of the late, beloved Paul Walker. He plays Little Nobody, Kurt Russell’s apprentice. Young cop with idealist views who develops a strong sense of the one thing missing in his life; family. It’s remarkable the similarities their characters had, and by the end, he is embraced by “the family” and will likely sit at Paul’s empty seat for the remainder of the franchise. I found this a little hard to swallow. Paul Walker was an irreplaceable part of these films, and it was made very public how much he meant to everyone involved, and they just seemed to have moved on rather quickly.
F. Gary Gray takes over the director’s chair from James Wan, and he does a great job incorporating piles of cars, massive explosions, a submarine and more. I felt like I was watching a high-definition 1980s action film for most of the time. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing.
To say the story is ridiculous is a hyperbolic understatement. The plot has so many holes, I found myself looking around to the other amused patrons thinking, “Did they really just do that?” It’s terrible, but that’s the point, and it’s almost as if Michael Bay stopped by the set to give some pointers.
“The Fate of the Furious” is fun action, but it’s a terrible film. Watching Vin Diesel attempt to act seriously is painful, and Statham and Theron were the only humans involved who gave this picture any life.
At a long, drawn out two hours and 15 minutes, I found myself getting antsy, despite the Dolby experience at the newly renovated Woodinville AMC theater (I highly recommend the experience). You know exactly what you’re getting with one of these films, and the cars were pretty cool. The story was subpar, even by “Furious” standards, and I did miss Paul Walker.