The Fate of the Furious (2017)

At this point you know what you’re getting with the “Fast and the Furious” movie series, but they also seem to be thinking of new ways to get ridiculous. While you can’t really expect realism with these movies (seriously, gravity does not exist in this world), “Fate of the Furious” reaches new heights of absurdity that it becomes comical; and not the good kind of comical, either. Where James Bond had “Die Another Day” where he surfed a tsunami on a plane door and parachute, “The Fate of the Furious” has its own “jump the shark” moment. But this one involves a missile chasing a car, and Dwayne Johnson merely leaning out of a high speed car and pushing the missile away with his hand, allowing it to divert in to the car of a bad guy. It’s that point where I realized that it’s about time for the series to come to an end.

Since Paul Walker passed, the writers seem to now be working over time to fill his slot, and have done everything including bringing back old villains to become anti-heroes for Dominic Torreto’s team. The problem is that the movie only succeeds in being a really long and boring sequel mainly because there are no stakes in this new battle. Yes, we meet a villain who convinces Dominic to go rogue on his “family” but beyond that no one dies. No one is killed. No one unexpectedly crashes and burns. No one drops out or turns coat. I think at this point we might even seen Asian character Han pop up out of nowhere, back from the dead, before the series comes to a close. So since the stakes are rock bottom, it’s impossible to grab any tension or suspense from what unfolds. We all know Dominic will get out of his jam, we all know his group of racers and risk takers will help him, we even will sit through thirteen high speed chases sans casualties.

And what would a “Fast” movie be without the series’ trademark scene of Dom praying with his friends over dinner. Even the addition of Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren fails to add any spice in what’s a sequel that feels like it’s just going through the motions. Yes, Theron’s character has dreadlocks for some reason, but that’s about as unique as she ever gets. Even with the new twist of events, “The Fate of the Furious” fails to muster up an interesting villain, or any kind of tension between characters. The writers even think the narrative is smarter than us by delivering a ton of plot twists in the second half, and reminding us as if the movie has been impossible to follow. The new characters have all but picked up where the classic cast members have dropped the ball, with Kurt Russell being the only one who seems to know how silly the movie is, delivering every line with a half smirk.

Jason Statham also gives a charismatic turn as heel turned hero Ian Shaw, while Dwayne Johnson is fun as heroic meathead Luke Hobbs, who delights in smashing bad guys like Mongo in “Blazing Saddles.” Hell, Johnson and Statham get the best moments, including Statham who has his very own moment reminiscent of “Hard Boiled.” In either case, for a movie that pretends to be an elaborate thriller, it’s ridiculously simple, and just doesn’t even seem to be trying anymore. If anything I hope we get a buddy action comedy spin-off between Luke Hobbs and Ian Shaw where they fight bad guys in a muscle bound bromance.