Adrenaline, Steroids, Bombastic Action, But…
A Film Review of The Fate of the Furious
… these movies are all the same. The Fate of the Furious is the 8th installment of the underground car racing franchise turned pre-summer action blockbuster series that has gone to extreme lengths to one-up its previous iteration in the interest of raking in large amounts of cash. If anything, these films represent a glowing example of everything a proper blockbuster is supposed to be all about. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eye candy and explosions because done well, blockbusters can deliver quality entertainment on such a massive scale that they cannot be ignored; there’s far too much money involved. As far as film franchises are, The Fast and the Furious is as sure an investment as anything Hollywood has ever had to offer this side of Star Wars. The numbers speak for themselves:
The Fast and the Furious (2001); $38 Million Budget; $207 Million Global Box
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003); $76 Million Budget; $236 Million Global Box
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006); $85 Million Budget $158 Million Global Box
Fast and Furious (2009); $85 Million Budget; $363 Million Global Box
Fast Five (2011); $125 Million Budget; $626 Million Global Box
Fast & Furious 6 (2013); $160 Million Budget; $788 Million Global Box
Furious 7 (2015); $190 Million Budget; $1.5 Billion Global Box
The Fate of the Furious (2017); $250 Million Budget; over $900 million in 10 days
I’m not copy/pasting boxofficemojo.com’s numbers for filler, but to illustrate how much of a sure thing these movies have been and seeing the numbers just like this can make anyone understand why they keep getting made even with significant increases to the budgetary investment for every sequel.
So why am I talking so much about money in a film review? Well, the answer is: there’s not much happening on the screen necessitating any semblance of engaging this film’s context because I’ve seen it before; seven times before as a matter of fact. A bunch of crooks jump into cars, crashes and explosions ensue followed by fistfights and gunfire, the good guys win and the movie ends. That is the plot summary for every single one of these hugely profitable films, and the fact that they are essentially the same has not harmed this franchise the way patron fatigue has historically set in for other franchises that produce a fraction of the sequels we see here.
The secret lies in those calling the shots at Universal Pictures and their dedication to making the next Fast and Furious bigger, stronger and faster without cheap-ing out becauseTokyo Drift taught them a valuable lesson about what happens when you strip down a Ferrari and put in an engine that used to motor a Dodge Neon. Thus, every sequel since has been a simple application of “more” to everything. When the incredible car stunts weren’t enough, they added ferocious combat. When even that wasn’t enough, they added major, A-list star power to the mix. People will show up and pay tickets for “more;” even if it happens to be “more” of the same which brings us back to The Fate of the Furious.
This movie is great popcorn fun for action junkies as well as a more casual crowd looking for a little zing in their routine entertainment. Production value is high in almost every aspect of film production, but it takes superior cinematography to capture it all seamlessly without mucking up the works and this factor will most certainly be overlooked by many evaluating the success of this film. The story is a bowl of drivel, but everything else is a by the numbers, on point production of pristine spectacle that will satisfy the majority of any audience that pays for a seat.
The whole salad bar of guns, fists, chases, crashes, stunts, set pieces and a bevy of WTF moments is on display. Top marks all around.
Stephen F. Windon’s extensive experience framing action films serves him well here. I appreciate his efforts to not resort to cheap Michael Bay tricks like overusing the hand held camera, purposely blurring the imagery of action sequences that are far more mundane than the frame’s chaos would have you believe. All the action in this film is slow and fast enough for all to appreciate.
Has the franchise been appropriated by Dwayne Johnson yet? No? Well, I like Vin Diesel, especially when he’s not being a prima donna off set and he delivers another solid, tough guy performance that is as predictable as what Groot will say after he says “I am Groot.”
This movie is really all about the interplay between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Every scene with both of them is golden fun and hilarity mixed into the sweetest, non-diabetic candy you’ve ever had. Everyone else is kind of just there like Scott Eastwood who’s still playing the punching bag in these ensemble productions.
An appropriate mix of Latino, rock, techno and hip hop to help the action fire on all cylinders, but we’ve also heard this before.
Great work throughout, but especially for vehicles during high speed chases. Every gear shift, every tire burn, every NOS burst comes through crisp and clear.
“Moving” = 26/33
There are limitations to practical stunt work with cars. For the more ridiculous, visual effects were utilized very well for macro, wide action shots as well as micro, super close engine shots.
The practical stunt work, pyro and visceral car crashes are some of the best I’ve seen since Mad Max: Fury Road. Their shear immensity and volume could be an entertaining action film by themselves.
Well, it’s not a period piece and it’s not an Avengers film so what we have here is a middle of the road action star wardrobe.
Hair & Makeup
Everyone gets beat up pretty well along the way and it shows, but, whose idea was it to put Charlize Theron’s hair into dreads? Really??
Every location between “Cuba” and “Russia” (the Cold War connection?) was expertly scouted, dressed, blocked and captured to give all the action visually dynamic settings to house it all.
Nobody cut corners on the budget for interior set dressing although I will say I was a tad underwhelmed by Mr. Nobody’s “Nowhere” auto shop. Most of the money probably went to the cars that were being shown off inside of that relatively pedestrian warehouse.
“Picture” = 25/33
The same exact story as every “Fast” film before, but we’ve finally jumped the shark: Dom is a bad guy now. (sigh)
“We are family” vs. “There’s all sorts of family. You gotta choose which is more important.” Also, there are cyber terrorists that want nuclear missiles and global instability and who really cares? This movie certainly didn’t.
Forget all the plot holes you’ve all drifted around, it all turns out fine in the end because #reasons, #plotdevices, #convenience.
Car mechanic physics jargon has been replaced by tech internet jargon. Vin Diesel speaks and I get bored by his third spoken word. Johnson and Statham, however, is the only reason this category gets any points because their interplay is shear charismatic genius.
In this universe, global threats just show up out of nowhere and the best people to handle the situation are those who got started hijacking freight trucks with harpoon guns. By the way, where’s Brian? Are we ever going to get an explanation for that within the framework of the fiction that isn’t awkward and isn’t shameless about ignoring it all together?
What makes Hobbs and Shaw more interesting is how they both originated as angry SOBs, but then constantly shift status between charismatic rogues and alpha males. Dominic Terrreto continues to be a flat line of generic tough guy quips. Perhaps this is why they want to spin this franchise off with Hobbs and Shaw and leave Dom in the dust?
I think parents could identify with “Daddy’s gotta go to work” Hobbs and perpetual class clowns can always see where Tyrese Gibson’s Roman is coming from, but everyone else? Meh.
“Story” = 14/34
Overall MPS Rating: 65/100
The Fate of the Furiousis a film strictly about big stars, doing big stunts and engaging in even bigger action, all of which you’ve seen before only in slightly less grandiose fashion. Everything is produced and executed very well and it is all very entertaining, but I’m not quite sure what else this franchise can do to be bigger and bolder than before outside of drag racing V8s in space. That being said, I’ll leave you with some more numbers: 49, 44, 49, 38. These are the current ages of Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Michelle Rodriguez respectively so if Universal wants two more installments to this franchise plus a spinoff featuring The Rock and The Transporter, they had best be quick about it before the series turns into The Fervor of the Furious Geriatrics.