Directed by F. Gary Gray
April 4, 2017 (Berlin) / April 14, 2017 (United States)
While on his honeymoon in Havana with Letty, Dom is blackmailed into helping a cyber terrorist called Cypher.
This is the first Paul Walker free FF film, and it really shows. Much like the character of the Flash in the Justice League comics it turns out he was more or less the heart of the series. The lack of his presence leaves a narrative emptiness and apparently forced the creative minds here to focus more on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) than anyone else. Diesel, like any major player in Hollywood, has carried films by himself to varying degrees of success. The issue in this instance is that these are more or less ensemble films and not solo films with tertiary supporting characters. Toretto was never meant to be the focal character. If anything that was Bryan O’Connor or any outsider to Dominic’s world.
The Fate of the Furious was a very Dominic centric story. It was all “Why would Dom do this?” and “We need to save Dom.” We mostly follow him throughout with the other characters bordering at times on being incidental. Such a solo focus kind of undermines the family theme that was in this film and has been hit over the audience’s head for a long time now. Family? Friends? Oh yeah, forgot about those.
Another gripe I have is that our main villain of Cipher (Charlize Theron) somehow connects back to everything. It is getting a little silly with the overarching sophisticated conspiracy and all that. Cipher is connected in one way or another to every baddy that they have faced since Fast & Furious. Starting with Owen Shaw who was connected to everybody you can trace her to everybody else.
Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) gets a bit of a rehab here as does his brother Owen (Luke Evans) because apparently both were manipulated by Cipher to one extent or another into doing bad things. Huh? There is an implication that Deckard went rogue because he was forced to do so while in the British Special Forces and that Owen was manipulated by Cipher to do all that he did. That felt like a bit much. You might be able to logically rehab Deckard but given Owen’s previous actions he seems a bit beyond help.
Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) makes her final appearance in the series and it is revealed that at some point she gave birth to Dominic’s love child. Huh? At what point did she have time to have a baby? The kid came out of the blue. There was no hint in any of her appearances between her first and this that she was pregnant, and the timeline implies that everything is happening pretty close together so I would expect a baby bump somewhere.
Dwayne Johnson shows up again as Luke Hobbs. He is more important to the plot than he was in the previous film and his banter with Statham is a humor highlight of the film as well as a nice test run for Hobbs & Shaw. His inclusion felt…odd though. Trusting Hobbs for a black ops mission is one thing but trusting that team seemed odd. I know logic has left the series, but I cannot fathom the government repeatedly going to these guys.
Michelle Rodriguez returns as Dom’s wife Letty. Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges return as Roman Pearce and Tej Parker respectively. Nathalie Emmanuel returns as British computer hacktivist Ramsey though her presence feels superfluous to add eye candy to the team. Kurt Russell has another go round as the mysterious Mr. Nobody and brings along a protégé often referred to condescendingly as Little Nobody played by Scott Eastwood.
We get gifted with Helen Mirren showing up in an all too brief appearance as Magdalene Shaw who is Owen and Deckard’s mother. She was obviously having fun in her part. She is one of those great actresses that puts the same level of effort into lesser films as she does into the ones that will be adored by critics. And it helps that you can tell she enjoys her work. She is definitely an artist, but she is an artist that loves her job and can have fun when needed.
This film offers a serious character change for Dominic Toretto. He went from a professional street racer with serious anger management issues who is good with cars to an excellent fighter and tactician and generally fantastic judge of character with some knowledge of computers by this film. I know these changes were dictated by alterations in what the series was about, but what happens here feels severe. For example, Dom was able to plan a five-minute window without Cipher knowing in order to get his message and plan directly to Deckard’s mother.
We do get some great and cool vehicles courtesy of the super-secret government agency which may or may not be the CIA headed up by Mr. Nobody that appears to be involved everywhere. What exactly this agency’s duties are were not really well explained here (or previously) unless their duties are just world threatening terrorists which if there are enough to justify a single agency we’re f****d.
The Fate of the Furious is not necessary but it is an enjoyable film and if they can learn from the mistakes of this one, this will just be seen as a blip of weakness in an otherwise enjoyable film series. This is the weaker of the new direction films but that does not mean it is not enjoyable.
The action scenes are great and honestly the portion of finale involving the plane is funny and exciting. It was cool to see Owen and Deckard break into Cipher’s plane while it was flying and save Dom’s son.
The Fate of the Furious is not as strong as the rest in the series but it is still enjoyable enough. It has some great action and not too bad of a story. Watch it!