The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Written by Chris Morgan
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Dominic Toretto is spending his honeymoon in Havana, Cuba when his path crosses with international terrorist hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron). Cipher has sought out Dom, with a particular bit of leverage, to force him in helping her go about some sort of overly convoluted terrorist shit. This makes it appear that Dom has betrayed his crew, but Letty is convinced more is going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Hobbs needs the team’s help in recovering an emp device that just so happens to tie into Cipher’s plans. Deckard Shaw is tossed back into the mix, this time on the side of the good guys. Crazy shit happens, and the plot quickly crumbles away into noise and confusion.
I am so happy that these damn dumb movies have finally embraced their ridiculous nature. While Furious 7 was a big step into the absurdity territory, Fate just goes into overdrive and becomes an exercise in insanity. The soap operatic character beats are all over the place, and the action set pieces seem to look at audience reactions from previous movies and smile. At various points in the film, we have a horde of zombies cars terrorizing the streets of New York, men in rocket packs hijacking a mega hacker plane, and a damn nuclear submarine. This doesn’t even touch on the prison escape using a single cattle prod to somehow unlock every door in a supermax. Or Hobbs climbing out of his moving armored jeep to re-aim a torpedo by hand.
The one big problem with these films is action set pieces overstaying their welcome. There comes the point in each and every one where I found myself drifting off and then asking, “Why are these characters here? What are they doing?”. It’s not quite to the same extremity a Michael Bay Transformers flick can summon up regarding narrative disorientation, but it is pretty cacophonous and dizzying. Did I fully understand why Cipher was trying to do what she was doing? Uh….not really. I knew what she wanted but never really why.
There’s a lot of plot convenience. I’m not quite sure how Dom was able to secretly get in contact with a particular character while under surveillance. It’s made fairly clear that Cipher has eyes on him at all time. Then there’s the connection Deckard just so happens to have with Cipher that makes his leap to the good guys’ side apparently clean and comfortable. And these last aspect touches on some overall problems with the franchise.
Grief is apparently uncool in the Fast & Furious universe. When Gisele dies in Fast & Furious 6, we have the backyard bbq at the end where Han mainly receives a slight pat on the back. While there was an attempt to make Han’s death matter in Furious 7, I feel Fate undoes this completely by letting Deckard off without any conflicting feelings. There should have been at least a moment of hesitation working with this murderer, but all is forgiven. The character death that takes place in Fate is also another example of the meaningless of our loved ones dying. This character’s death is acknowledged once at the end in a pretty weak moment, and I suspect they will be all but forgotten in the following installments. That is unless screenwriter Chris Morgan finds some way to exploit the death for a plot twist convenience.
Overall, this is not a franchise I enjoyed. These last two films were the most fun I had because of how anti-film they are. Plot and character continue to be abstracted into a meaningless void. Tighten up the set piece runtime, and it might hook me for another one.
My predictions for the next film:
Well, I do know that there is going to be a Hobbs/Deckard spinoff movie so I feel like I am on board with that because they were without a doubt the best parts of this whole damn series. So the crew has been to Los Angeles, Brazil, Cuba, NYC, London, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, The Dominican Republic, and Miami. They have dealt with a tank, a submarine, an attack helicopter, a military drone, a super hacker, an army of zombie cars. I think at some point there should be a race over the Great Pyramids in Giza or across the Great Wall of China. Time travel should happen in one of the movies, and we have Dom and Letty in a race using Model Ts. A terrorist plot could strike at the Tour de France, so the crew gets some Nos-powered bikes. Crisis on the International Space Station that involves it crashing on the moon and the crew takes moon buggies. The crew gets transported to the mirror universe where they must confront Tom Doretto, the dark version of Dom. The Dark Universe franchise from Universal Pictures took a big hit with The Mummy, so I think the Fast & Furious franchise could cross over to boost the popularity there. Russell Crowe’s monster hunter organization needs Dom’s crew after the classic Universal monsters learn to drive. The possibilities are endless.