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Friday
Apr212017

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

By Cole Rush

Editor's Note: As you heard in Episode 215 of the Kicking the Seat Podcast, I'm pleased to welcome Cole Rush of the blog Cole Tries New Things as a special guest contributor. Please enjoy this review of The Fate of the Furious, and be sure to follow along with Cole's weekly adventures into the unknown!

Two things happened once my showing of The Fate of the Furious (hereafter, “Fate”) ended:

1. I casually wondered to myself, “Why did I enjoy that so much?”

2. I drove home like a complete maniac. No single memory of the film stuck with me. But racing to my apartment with post-action-movie gusto, I thought a lot about the franchise's eighth installment--which had been my introduction to this lauded, fast, and furious world of...people who really love cars?

When an otherwise sturdy car is plagued with multiple functional and cosmetic issues (a cracked mirror, dimming headlights, low tire pressure, you name it), there’s still a chance the mangled machine will get you where you need to go. Fate exists in the movie version of this mechanical purgatory: a veritable smorgasbord of tiny-but-still-noticeable issues rise to the surface.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan’s dialogue scrapes the bottom of the cliché barrel, scooping up and dishing out tropes that should be long dead. Many of the jokes induce a half-laugh, half-cringe. The characters, particularly Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), cycle between facial expressions like radio presets. Perhaps the most egregious offense, though, is actor Scott Eastwood’s unforgivable pronunciation of the word “nuclear.” Twice he crosses the line, letting loose a chilling “nook-ya-lur.” I laughed in disbelief at this ignorant utterance, and I’m still asking myself why nobody on set had the balls to correct him.

These grievances, however, are really the only ones worth mentioning, while others are just typical action-movie fare. Fate's welcoming attitude invites a suspension of disbelief--a smart move, because during the climactic battle, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) shields himself from an onslaught of machine gun fire using a damaged car door.

Getting this far into the review without any mention of Fate’s plot is a testament to that plot’s fragility. A cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron) kidnaps part of Dom's family, forcing him to betray his team. Letty and the gang join a mission to thwart Cipher and hopefully redeem their friend. This was believable enough for me as a series rookie. The motivations kind of make sense, and the loose ends all come together neatly by the film's conclusion. It's no filmmaking revolution, but in-fighting, a master plan, and a butt-load of action all combine into one semi-cogent package.

Of course, the action scenes stole the spotlight. Enrapturing set pieces, huge explosions, intimate combat segments, and obligatory, intense car chases abound. Each is delightful in its own way. Jason Statham stands out from the bunch during a multi-man takedown on an aircraft, mid-flight, with Dominic’s baby in tow--the scene provoked a few belly laughs and drew me to the edge of my seat.

Generally speaking, The Fate of the Furious lives up to the expectations I would’ve had if I knew anything about the series other than “it has cars.” This fun romp packed to the brim with references to “family” does enough to be fun and good, but if Fate was a car, it would stall at least a few times en route to its destination.

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