Akin to cracking on your favourite console game you haven’t touched in a couple of years and it still remains a guilty pleasure, The Fate of the Furious is loads of pure escapist fun that benefits by the introduction of the villainous Charlize Theron. It might run a tad too long, but that’s a minor quibble against a big actioner that keeps trying to up the ante at every turn.
We’re eight films in on this franchise and, unlike most all enduring franchises outside of Star Wars and James Bond, Fast and the Furious has seen every one of its sequels post Tokyo Drift earn more than what went before it. Whilst this entry won’t open to the astronomical heights of FF7‘s $147m U.S. domestic bow, its sights win certainly fall in the $120m+ range with a north of $300m finish on the low side of the finish line. F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) steps into the director’s chair working from a script from franchise stalwart Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious 3 – 7) and joining the property are Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones).
It’s a glorious sun drenched summer in Havana, Cuba where we reconnect with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez), who are enjoying their honeymoon whilst visiting Dom’s cousin. It’s not long before Dom is sidled up to a street race to liberate his in-debt cousin from a local thug and an impossibly loud and ridiculously executed car chase ensues. This prelude, which establishes all the less than subtle themes that have driven the franchise (family, respect, masculinity, car worship), sets the scene for the introduction of Cipher (Charlize Theron sporting Angelina Jolie’s hair from Gone in Sixty Seconds), an enigmatic global cyber-terrorist who convinces Dom to come work for her for reasons unexplained. When a job comes up to steal an E.M.P. device in Germany that sees Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) re-unite with the pair, everything goes pear shaped when Dom splits from the group stealing the weapon.
Morgan’s screenplay is the stuff of teen fanboy schtick. Each action set piece pushes it bigger and harder than the one that falls before it with the bonus feature being the upped level of comedy and quipping involved. Everyone in this knows it is utterly ridiculous from the outset and they just go for it. F. Gary Gray’s direction is suitably muscular throughout and, whilst his handling of the kinetic action sequences don’t have the same sense of dynamic flair that James Wan brought to the previous entry, there’s more than enough carnage candy here to keep you enthralled.
Performance wise it is Charlize Theron that comes out on top as the invested villainous Cipher, she plays the seductive, nefarious protagonist with style. Jason Statham wins out returning as Deckard and his is afforded not just the best verbal sparring matches with Hobbs, he’s also given the best and most kinetic action sequences in the film. Across the board, though, everyone is revelling in the silliness.
Perhaps it runs a tad too long at a whopping 136 minutes, but it never gets bogged down in plotting, instead opting for globe trotting adventurism. This is all about spectacle and set pieces, Hot cars and wanton destruction, old friends and new enemies. The most refreshing thing this one does is that it doesn’t resolve its premise in the way the franchise has done to date.
The Fate of the Furious keeps the energy, adds a few new elements and appeases the loyal fan base. It’s a lot of fun, utterly ridiculous and totally watchable.
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS releases TODAY across AUSTRALIA through UNIVERSAL PICTURES