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[Movie Review] The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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Plot Summary: When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

Director: F. Gary Gray

Writer: Chris Morgan

Runtime: 2 h 16 min

Main Cast:

  • Vin Diesel as Dom
  • Jason Statham as Deckard
  • Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Letty
  • Tyrese Gibson as Roman
  • Ludacris as Tej Parker
  • Charlize Theron as Cipher
  • Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
  • Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey

Review: by Mia

Trailers for The Fate of the Furious promised a smooth continuation of the 8-movie long franchise. We've been following these characters since 2003 when the first film introduced us to the infamous Toretto Family and their soon to be adopted member played by Paul Walker. We've experienced the ups and downs of this franchise as characters and the actors who played them died tragically in fatal car accidents that would shake the foundations of this film series. It was a tragic moment to witness the loss of Paul Walker and the effect that it had on his co-actors. He was the bones of the Fast and Furious film plots each movie, with the exception of the 2006 Tokyo Drift edition. Still, the films managed to continue on and honor his memory with the completion of another film in which Paul Walker was only able to film portions of before his death.

The Fate of the Furious is the first official film containing all of the recognizable characters that would not include the honorary Toretto, Brian. I wondered whether this little detail would be the motivation behind Dominic Toretto’s dark betrayal of his super driven team (pun intended). With each movie drifting further and further away from the cars and more and more into the super team vs mega villain trope, what could possibly turn Dom into the villain alongside a conniving Charlize Theron with locs? Almost against my own will, I tend to love every role that Charlize Theron plays and I was just as excited to see her added to the cast of this franchise.

The main two questions would be: (1) How does Brian not fit in? (2) What could be more important to Dom than family? Especially after over 14 years of films where we see the unbreakable code that is family first in these films.

The film begins and we get our first taste of the racing scene we know and love from these films. This time, Dom and Letty are honeymooning in beautiful Cuba alongside relatives and fellow car enthusiasts. Dom ends up in a deadly race to determine the fate of his younger cousin’s century old car and ultimately ends the race in a flaming victory. Everyone cheers, everyone loves Dom, even the guy whose just lost the race but still manages to keep his car out of the kindness of Dom’s heart. Dom hands over his own car to his now car-less cousin and he and Letty stroll off into the sunlight to continue their honeymoon. One romantic night discussing their future and possibly children later, Dom is running errands when Cypher (Charlize Theron) appears ready to school him on the ideologies of human choice and the powers of fate. She presents a mystery photo on a smartphone that we don’t get to see and Dom is successfully hooked.

Without the knowledge of his team, he begins executing missions under Cypher’s orders. We learn that Cypher is a hacktivist supreme, bent on some secret mission to gather together different items across the globe that will all lead to her gaining the power to play with world powers on their level. Dom is the key to her success. He is a one man army at times and then a quiet sinister reminder of the skills of her team at others. Eventually, Dom gets a call from Hobbes asking him to help protect a vital weapon from Russian hands and Dom agrees. What Hobbes and rest of the team don’t know is that Cypher wants this weapon for herself. By the time they find out, it’s too late. Dom has flipped big Hobbes’ super truck and made off with the weapon while their backs were turned.

Doubts ensue and all except Letty begin to question Dom’s loyalties. Hobbes has been captured by Russian forces and ends up in the same maximum prison as our old friend Shaw (the second one, Jason Statham). Each member of the team is recruited to track down Dom and Cypher, Hobbes and Shaw must find a way out of prison for their own personal vendettas, and Letty is struggling with the pain and betrayal of constantly seeing Dom’s mysterious switching of sides.

The team stalks Dom and Cypher across the world, just barely managing to survive as they go up against their own leader. Yes, we do find out what Cypher has on Dom and whether he will ever return to his loving family. We also get to see a lot more of Shaw and who he was before he appeared out of nowhere and killed Han. A hundred near death sequences and a couple thousand cars damaged ends in the final showdown between the powers behind Cypher and Dom and his team.

What I Liked:

They bring back every character you know and love, with the exception of a few who would have to defy death and other film production obligations to make it. Somehow, they manage to refresh this plot that we’ve seen close to a dozen times already! We get new car tricks, new impossible feats, and new villain ingenuity. We also get a great plot twist that I honestly didn’t see coming but should have guessed.

I also love Jason Statham. They give his character much more personality in this film and even let us see him as more of a person than a vengeance-bent killing machine. Still, he does his stunts and impresses with his British charm. Roman’s humor remains this film and we get to see his classic panic while contributing to the impossible heist signature behavior. We get more of Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey being clever computer hackers in order to keep the team ahead of the clock while also experiencing Hobbes’ so corny you have to laugh macho punch lines. Every character contributes to the humor of the film, which is good because Dom and Letty are so depressing most of the movie that this is needed. Dom doesn’t have it easy for a second yet still manages to remain a mastermind behind every mission he is given. Letty is the definition of ride-or-die and I love her more this film than her last few. She gets to shine as a member of the team willing to go that extra mile to get their mission done. Finally, I like the Shaw family, who you get to see more of now that Shaw is given a more human introduction.

What I Didn’t Like:

As much as I love Jason Statham and his execution of stunts, smirks, and gunshots, there is no way that this character should have been a redeemable character.

Shaw. Killed. Han.

I loved Han (clearly), but more importantly, the team loved Han. Han was family. He was the force behind a serious vengeance in Dom’s heart (or so I thought) just a movie ago. Apparently, Han can be forgotten for the right amount of charm and usefulness to the team and plot? No good.

At the beginning of the film, the camera shots are very disorienting, which is disappointing because they provide a lot of action and fighting choreography that I would have loved to have gotten a better look at. When you have people who are this experienced in stunt and fighting choreography, you shouldn’t need the shaky camera and the jerky motions to add to the impact behind each high action moment. This does get better as the film goes on. They begin to use this technique more wisely, but ultimately it takes away from a lot of the action in the beginning.

True to the Fast and Furious franchise, the timeline of this movie is absurd. When does all of the events that manage to motivate this entire plot even happen? Why didn’t we get even a hint of this in the last film? Should we maybe give a few biology lesson to explain how anyone could have managed what these characters do as far as survival and family up to this point? I won’t spoil the movie, but here we are again forced to ignore the plot holes of another movie in this franchise.

Images Courtesy of IMDB

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