Movie Review: The Farcical, Yet Fallow Fate of the Furious
f you look up “escapism” in the dictionary, there’s just a link to a bootleg Fast and the Furious series. We all know what we’re getting into when we buy a ticket to see one of these movies: fast cars, an excessive amount of booty shots, explosions, testosterone-inspired fight scenes, and ridiculously complicated evil schemes with over-simplified solutions. If this was the first Fast movie I’d be warning you of the confusingly injury-resistant main characters, the overestimation on the importance of a good car in activities that don’t really require one, and the laughably convenient placing of just about anything affecting the plot. Fate of the Furious is the 8th installment of this, however, and we’re past the point of no return here.
Now a lot of people can’t move past the nonsense physics of a Fast movie (like tucking and rolling out of a car that’s supposedly going 240 mph and not sustaining so much as a scratch), but you really become numb to these kinds of things 15 minutes into this movie because at that point they’ve established that this is just what happens in this world. If you want to know where the really injuries are sustained, look (or rather, listen) no further than the dialogue. The dialogue was so bad in this movie it was painful. Physically painful. I have a bruise and there’s moderate swelling, painful. We don’t look for Shakespeare in these kinds of movies, but when you think to yourself “wouldn’t it be hilarious if the next line was ‘x’?” because it’s the most horribly cliched thing you can think of, and then the next line is that VERBATIM, there’s a problem.
The dialogue wasn’t the only cliched thing about the movie though, just about every plot turn was either textbook cliche, or textbook cliche AND Fast and the Furious cliche. People gaining respect of each other because they were beaten in a race, enemies having to work together. Not only are these are all things that we’ve seen a million times before, but it’s things we’ve seen in just about every single one of these movies. It doesn’t make them staples of the series, it makes them tired.
There were a few saving graces in the movie that kept me from demanding my refund. Besides my very serious man-crush on Jason Statham (I love you Mr. Statham, please keep doing what you do), director F. Gary Gray incorporated some goosebump inducingly spectacular visuals. There were several scenes that spotted the movie where his brilliance shone through, but one in particular was when hundreds of cars made a single turn as one. The timing, the shot, the sounds, everything about it heavily suggested a metaphor to a wave of the ocean and it was so beautiful it will bring you to near tears.
Another noticeably enjoyable aspect of the film is, believe it or not, Vin Diesel. While not particularly known for his acting range, the angsty darker plot of Fate let him stretch his emotional muscles for a change. During some of the more emotional scenes, he really pulled the audience in despite the horribly written dialogue to the point where for a few blissful seconds you forget how terrible the words that are coming out of his mouth are. That’s not easy, but the man really earned his paycheck there.
Do these positive qualities outweigh the negative? No. A resounding no. Dialogue and plot will always outweigh acting and directing (with the possible exceptions of silent films). If you like pain and uncomfortable moments, perhaps you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll love Fate of the Furious. If not, you’re probably better off skipping it, or at least waiting to rent it.