I can do my usual lead in paragraph if you want? I mean I said it with my Furious 7 review – you’ve already made up your mind to watch this one or not. You are invested in the series or not. This series which started out at least somewhat serious in tone (it has a flippin drive by) has become the beer and pretzels franchise. It doesn’t claim to be more than that – it stopped trying to be more than that a very long time ago. So I suppose the real question is should you see yet another film in this franchise after you thought they had nothing more to tell? Should you see a Fast movie without Paul Walker? Should you get behind the wheel to go see this?
or more importantly – should they have?
The 8th…yes…8th installment of the series is directed by F. Gary Gary who has in his career since 1995 given us Friday, Set it Off, The Negotiator, and recently Straight Outta Compton. He worked with Deisel in A Man Apart (2003); which has some of that mans best acting. He is reuniting with Theron and Statham from when he ddirected them both in The Italian Job (also 2003); which had some pretty decent car stunts as well. It seems he is a perfect choice for this film series – and you’d be right mostly. The problem is the series has fully devolved into its beer and pretzels and cannot decide what tonal quality it wants to go for.
Will I be a serious film with real intensity and some brutality – well when Vin Deisel is the main focus? Yes.
Will I be a 7 layers of cheese dip with all the corny lines to go with it – well when Vin isn’t on screeen? Yes
Will I be somewhere in the middle, even briefly, when the group as a whole is on screen with him? Of course.
Yes he directs them all fine. I honestly think these guys could do a movie without a director at this point. ….I might even pay to see that. Yes the action scenes are fun and new (more later); but the character pieces never linger long enough to care about the stakes beyond your initial investment in the characters, which likely has been dwindling alongside the franchises respect for the laws of physics.
I think I have to blame someone I praised previously though. Chris Morgan has been on the franchise since Tokyo Drift. I think he is chained in a cage somewhere with nothing but a word processor and a printer being forced to write these at this point. It is entirely possible he is using one of these to come up with the concept, plot, and events of the movie:
Nothing in the movie lasts long enough to care. The motivations are as foggy as a San Francisco morning (with one exception). The dialogue is just lazy. They didn’t even bother with having the two cyber specialists try to talk Hacker at the camera. A few vague words, lots of typing without actually see them doing anything. I kind applaud them for that one. Overall though its phoned in to the nth degree.
And it doesn’t actually matter.
You are paying to watch the actors do things with cars (usually). So how are they? Let’s bullet it as there are a lot of them.
- Vin Diesel looks stern, talks about family, is generally bad ass. I honestly don’t know how much different the actor and character are at this point.
- Jason Statham has some of the most fun I have seen from him since Crank?
- Dwayne Johnson mugs for the camera. He flexes for us who go that way. He chews scenery. We love him for it.
- Michelle Rodriguez is underused.
- Tyrese earns that paycheck (credit CinemaSins) and mostly tries to be funny and fails – which I think is the joke. Humor and I don’t speak to each other often.
- Charlize Theron is actually pretty solid when she wants to do a villain in a film like this. Nicely done.
- Kurt Russell in this mode needs to be in all the things. There is a real possibility he ad libbed every line and I am 100% ok with that.
- Scott Eastwood shows unlike in Suicide Squad he does have a personality.
Ok – so thats that.
How are the stunts and effects you ask?
This gif is my answer.
Most of the stunts with the cars are fantastic. The others are “fantastic”. When they go practical you will wince, when they go CG you will probably wince for other reasons. It’s pretty typical for this franchise, but they do take it to 11 this time. Its true the series jumped the shark long long ago – but now they have forgone any pretense. What absolutely kills me is the shaky cam in the non-car fights. You have quick, powerful, or agile actors – we don’t need the camera looking like its sitting on the San Andreas during an earthquake to add ‘dynamism’ to the fight. If you need that to add energy – rechoreograph the fight. Please. No more shaky cam especially when you have talent.
It is absolutely fun. It is absolutely stakeless on an emotional level. Yes it has stakes and a threat, but I couldn’t care less. In other movies I would probably rip them a new one for such behavior, but Fast and the Furious has earned its stripes and there is real effort and love in the movie. In an era of unnecessary grit and hyper realistic action Fate of the Furious is a glass of cool lemonade on a hot summer day.
Should you see it?
I have no regrets. I doubt you will.
Would you see it again?
At home with a few beers, pizza, and friends? Yes
So you buying it?
No question about it. Yes.
The magic 8 ball is leaving me confused did you like it or not?
Yes, I liked it. It gave me everything I wanted it to be and didn’t disappoint on any of the facets I cared about for a Fast and Furious movie. This is the 8th movie in a franchise not based on anything but itself. That doesn’t happen in Hollywood anymore – maybe ever. I am happy to celebrate that.