Main cast: Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Luke Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (Tej Parker), Nathalie Emmanuel (Megan Ramsey), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw), Kristofer Hivju (Connor Rhodes), Scott Eastwood (Eric Reisner), Elsa Pataky (Elena Neves), Charlize Theron (Cipher), and Kurt Russell (Frank Petty)
Director: F Gary Gray
The Fate of the Furious, known in some parts of the world as Fast and Furious 8, is the – duh – eighth movie in the franchise, and the first without Paul Walker, whom we all know is now taking acting classes in heaven. Don’t worry, fans of square-jawed bohunks with beautiful eyes, they roped in Scott Eastwood in what must be his biggest role to date after his impressive (snort) turn as Taylor Swift’s love interest in her Wildest Dreams video. He even plays the by-the-book rookie Eric Reisner who eventually learns to break the rules, although he works for Kurt Russell’s covert secret agent boss Frank Petty (known as Mr Nobody here) rather than making bromance vibes with Dominic Toretto. Come on, with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in lead roles, apparently feuding hard on set to boot, nobody is allowed to come between those two screen-hogging divas.
This one makes it official that the series has gone from street racing to heist to, as of now, SUPER SAIYAN +9,000 BABY!!! No, really. Luke Hobbs now has superhuman strength, lifting concrete structures off the ground with his bare hands, bitchslapping away heat seeking missiles with one hand as if he’s the boss and all those bitches are not worthy of sharing the same air as him, and leaving deep dents in pure steel walls with his angry punch while his barrel-chested “When I roll over in my sleep, I flatten Tokyo” physique draws hoards of women to come watch him coach his daughter’s soccer team. Despite being a mere thug who knows how to drive fast cars, Dom Toretto is also now capable of ninja tricks, acrobatics, extrasensory stealth detection, and complete invulnerability to any physical injury without even cracking his single facial expression in the entire movie. Roman Pierce never runs out of breath or irritating complaints passed off as “funny one-liners”, and somehow Tej Parker is now a full-fledged hacker with skills that rivals Megan Ramsey despite never showing an affinity for such things before. Oh, and there’s Letty, who drives fast cars but basically spends the entire movie being Dom’s wife and refusing to believe that he’s gone to the other end.
Oh yes, Dom has gone rogue. Why? You see, his brief affair with Elena when he thought Letty was dead (see Fast Five) resulted in a baby, and Elena failed to inform Dom of this before she and the baby were kidnapped by Cipher, the terrorist hacker that was the mastermind of the plot of the last two movies and is now supremely annoyed at Dom as a result. Considering that he’s just one of the team that took down her plans, I’m not sure why she singles him out as her antagonist, but I suppose Vin Diesel will throw a fit on set if his character isn’t the be all and end all, so that’s that. Now that his baby and former squeeze are being held hostage, Dom has no choice but to join Cipher’s terrorist squad and carry out her plans like a good minion, leaving his former ‘family’ members stone-shocked for… oh, one scene before they resume cranking out one-liners as if Dom had merely gone to do the laundry and got lost on the way home. Meanwhile, Mr Nobody has former nemesis Deckard Shaw join forces with them – he wants vengeance on Cipher for causing his brother to get smashed into a coma in Fast & Furious 6. So there they all go.
The Fate of the Furious is unbelievably stupid, often too stupid even by the standards of a big dumb movie designed primarily to entertain and nothing else. The climax of this movie is basically Dom being protected by the fallout of a nearby submarine explosion… by his buddies forming a ring of cars around him. Yes, cars are now as durable as nuclear bunkers. Up to that point, we have characters not affected by nearby explosions – not even a strand of hair out of place – while defying physics and logic. The plot is nonexistent – Cipher doesn’t even need Dom, actually. I mean, she can hack into and control hundreds of cars on the street, so why does she need Dom to pursue her target’s vehicle? Just hack the target’s car then! Oh, and despite the fact that she can hack into cars and take over, for some reason our good guys’ cars are untouched even when her super hacker buttons are always just a press away. That’s the problem with Cipher – she’s set up to be this completely amoral and ruthless, cunning sort (and Charlize Theron really pulls off her role well), but when it is time for her to get her comeuppance, the script turns her into an utter imbecile.
Meanwhile, Roman is a complete waste of space, and none of the original Roman Pierce from 2 Fast 2 Furious remains, sadly. He and Tej are now the comic sidekicks that contribute little to the plot other than to be the two black guys that bring on the sassy quips, while Letty is reduced to being the wife. It’s all about Dom and Luke, with the rest of the cast treating them like gods. When Dom turns rogue, the rest of the cast acts like Jesus had died and then forgotten his resurrection date. Unsurprisingly, the whole movie turns out to be an allegory to the ego clash between Mr Diesel and Mr Johnson.
Worse, the constant non-stop barrage of over the top action scenes, composed of ludicrous physics- and logic-defying moments of chases and explosions and destruction, makes for a brain-numbing movie. These things and the dumb plot, mechanical acting, and dumbing down of all characters involved make me fear for my brain cells while I have to sit through this movie, and a part of me is relieved that I don’t develop a concussion by the time the credits roll.
And it really, really irks me that Dom suffers no consequences whatsoever for aiding a terrorist in events that destroyed who knows how many lives and how much in property damage.
There is one good thing here, though: despite being dumbed down and defanged, Deckard Shaw completely steals the show, and good lord, what I wouldn’t give to see a spin-off featuring him, his brother, and his mother doing all kinds of mayhem in the world.
Anyway, this is easily the dumbest movie I’ve seen so far in 2017, and I hope it remains thus for a long time. I don’t know if I can take it, watching another movie that is even dumber than this equivalent of something Mr Diesel left in the toilet bowl.