The eighth instalment in the ‘Fast & Furious‘ series helmed by F. Gary Gray (‘Straight Outta Compton’, ‘The Italian Job’) has the most ridiculous excuse of a screenplay (by Chris Morgan) that designates our family of protagonists as sheer invincible. The villains don’t really stand a chance (so much so that some of them even decide to turn over new leaves!) and the set-pieces are as cartoonish as they can get.
The storyline is something that befits a Marvel movie..a psychotic villain (played by Charlize Theron) who wishes to get her hands on nuclear weapons and a team of ‘superheroes’ (like literally) out to stop her. After an opening that goes onto reinstate that the franchise hasn’t totally given up on street racing, the scene soon shifts back to the U.S of A. But the film’s first golden moment arrives not when Toretto (Diesel) gifts his muscle car to the owner of the 51′ Chevy in Havana or when Hobbs (Johnson) imparts cheeky cheer-leading skills to his daughter. It’s when Deckard Shaw (Statham) seizes an opportunity to break out of high security prison; he and Hobbs go all fist and forearm on the inmates and security personnel all the while when Bassnectar’s ‘Speakerbox‘ blasts in the background.
The dialogues are atrocious to the point of being unintentionally humorous. When it becomes apparent that Dom has ‘gone rogue’ and betrayed his family, the rest of ’em (in the next scene) sit around a table cracking awkward one-liners as if the whole ‘family’ concept is just a convenient sham. Morgan’s screenplay impresses only late in the second half when some interesting twists are revealed and a few (old) faces show up in the form of cameos (not gonna spoil them for you, teehee!).
Roman’s (Tyrese) expressive nature, at times, comes across as both comic relief and annoying. Tej (Luda) is relatively more tolerable while Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) adds to the oomph factor. Letty (Rodriguez) gets to show off her skills a bit towards the end and she makes the most of it. The big WHY for Dom’s betrayal sortof works its way into the film as a mawkish aspect at first, but goes on to instil great excitement towards the climax, again thanks to Statham’s timely intervention.
The set-piece in NYC shows clear signs of a ‘big dumb action movie’ where hacked cars just start falling off buildings and one can’t help but let out a big sigh. Is it fun to look at? Yes! But it’s also making the audience feel less connected with the characters and their actions. The franchise has reached a point wherein each geographically-varying set-piece is supposed to look more absurd than the previous ones.
Gary Gray and team go absolutely bonkers during the climax set-piece in Russia where plenty of military vehicles are blown up, a preposterous stretch involving Roman and the door of a Lamborghini, Letty jumping an iceberg on her Corvette Stingray, Hobbs nudging a few snow mobiles, and Dom dodging a missile. While all this happens on the ground (on thin ice actually!), things get increasingly interesting in the air too (which needs to be relished seeing on the big screen). Slo-mo is added only at the right junctures and that helps!
Charlize Theron does not have much to do other than give orders from behind a screen and hence, feels a little underused. Helen Mirren, in a cameo, makes us smile. Scott Eastwood (Walker’s white-American replacement) barely adds meat to the proceedings. Kurt Russell is invariably fun. It is indeed refreshing to see Statham melding well into the franchise and becoming a significant part of it (for future sequels). He also gets some of the best scenes in the entire flick. Overall, I’d recommend giving ‘The Fate of the Furious’ a shot at the cinema hall for the steady dose of adrenaline-filled excitement along with that insane climax set-piece (serving oodles of incendiary gratification!).
Watch the trailer here: