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Fate or fade? ‘Furious’ Franchise steers toward crossroads

%27The+Fate+of+the+Furious%27+in+theaters+now.
'The Fate of the Furious' in theaters now.

'The Fate of the Furious' in theaters now.

'The Fate of the Furious' in theaters now.

Fabian Brims, Egalitarian Staff Writer

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Here it is – the eighth movie of Universal’s automotive carnage franchise, and the first to see the original crew moving on after Paul Walker’s tragic death. It was the actor’s chemistry with Vin Diesel that got the series this far, which makes it crucial to see if the fans are still committed (and they are). Before ‘Fate of the Furious was shot, the studio had greenlighted parts nine and ten. Vroom vroom!

Following the events of ‘Furious Seven, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have their honeymoon in Cuba. After the obligatory street racing against Havana’s local bigmouth (a vital street-racing scene in Cuba? Fidel Castro would turn in his grave…), mysterious hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) reveals to Dom that he will soon turn his back on family and friends. Meanwhile DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) gets the order to retrieve a stolen EMP weapon, one that is powerful enough to cut the electricity of a whole city. He brings in the team, consisting of Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), tech specialist Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) from part seven, and, of course, power couple Dom and Letty. Once the device entered their hands, Dom goes rogue and steals the device, much to the confusion of his wife and allies. With the help of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his protégé, Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood), as well as former enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the family begins to pursue Dom from one part of the globe to another.

I haven’t seen all the movies of this series, but the first and fifth films offered a great mix of groundbreaking car stunts and legit entertainment. Both are also in ‘Fate but only for the first 10 minutes; after that it changes its tone into a weird ‘Transporter-Avengers-Transformers’ mix. If they keep exaggerating like this the next movie will take place in space and directed by Michael Bay. Jokes aside, what was once a relatively grounded, high-octane undercover thriller has become a collage of clichés, science-defying antics and cringe-worthy conversations. However, not everything about this movie is upsetting. The big action scene in the middle of the movie is fun to watch and offers some unseen visuals. Dom tries to steal the nuclear football from the Russian ambassador (Why does he have it? Why does Cipher even want it? Oh, don’t ask questions when you watch this movie!) and to assist the man, Cipher hacks the tech inside hundreds of cars in Manhattan, to remotely drive and guide them through New York like a pack of wild horses.

There’s not much to say about the acting, but I want to point out that with Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, who plays Shaw’s mother, there are two Oscar winners behind the wheel. An epic waste of talent, but actors have to make their living as well. This is just another parallel to the brain-damaging ‘Transformers’ series, where renowned actors like Anthony Hopkins or John Turturro try to find out how they got there.

Action movies can be unrealistic, ridiculous and formulaic. ‘John Wick was all that, but unlike ‘Fate’ it hit the right tone. It seems like a child had came up with the story, a squarely PG-13 material with lots of explosions. Nothing in this movie makes any sense, but to write a list would go beyond the scope of this review. When a submarine is as fast as a Lamborghini, cars drive away from heat-seeking missiles or drive autonomously, and a pretty hacker who flies around in her private undetectable airplane, they could just as well bring in dragons or aliens to spice up the story. A crossover with ‘Transformers’ would be only the logical next step.

I, for one, feel like I’m being made fun of watching this mess.

‘Fate’ surely has its audience, and as long as they keep coming, they will make more movies, bigger and faster than the predecessor. It’s a vicious cycle, really, and my only recommendation is to switch off your brain before watching. This movie is dripping testosterone, and girls are merely eye candy, degraded to beautiful props like the cars. With a significantly larger budget, director F. Gary Gray can blow up more fancy cars than ever, as well as planes, submarines, helicopters and motorbikes. Nothing that has a motor is safe in this movie.

Universal will have a hard time raising the bar for part nine. I honestly can’t think of any good reason to watch this, other than to find out how bad a movie can get. You’ll be surprised!

3/10

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Written by Chris Morgan

Cinematography by Stephen F. Windon

With Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren

PG-13, 136 minutes

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Fate or fade? ‘Furious’ Franchise steers toward crossroads