Someone needs to start a petition to make studios put subtitles on the screen every time Vin Diesel speaks. I can only make out every fifth word that man says.
“The Fate of the Furious” is the eighth installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise — take a moment to let the fact we’re eight films and 16 years deep into this thing sink in — and follows Dominic Toretto (Diesel), who is blackmailed by a cyberterrorist (Charlize Theron) to go rogue against his team and steal weapons. Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood also star as F. Gary Gray takes over director duties.
The best part of this film, much like the previous one, is Johnson and Statham. They both play off each other well and seem to be the only actors who truly know what kind of film they’re in and enjoy every minute of it; Russell also chews scenery as the covert ops leader. Russell, Johnson and Statham have other films and properties to fall back on and have excelled in comedies — I still think Statham didn’t get enough love for “Spy” — so they don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re great fun. Ludacris and Gibson have some witty banter back-and-forth, even if sometimes it comes at inappropriate moments or the jokes fall flat.
Like I said up top, Diesel is as inaudible as ever and mumbles his way through another performance in the series that made him a household(ish) name. Some lines go completely undetectable while others are overacted, and if it wasn’t for Eastwood, Diesel would be the worst performance in the film; Eastwood is so annoying here.
The action is, for the most part, top notch as we’ve come to expect. Gray takes over the director’s chair from James Wan and he stages some incredibly impressive set pieces, including one of the most ambitious of the series to date; let’s just say ludicrous isn’t just the name of a cast member. Ranging from a street race in Havana to a 100-car pileup in New York City, the series has officially jumped the shark — if it somehow hadn’t already — and we are one step closer to “Fast and Furious in Space.”
The biggest problem “Fate of the Furious” has, aside from its acting, plot and dialogue, is its pacing. Clocking in at 136 minutes, you certainly feel every second of the runtime. Scenes go on too long or just feel aimless, and by the time the climax is reached you’re close to exhaustion. And that aforementioned climax, much like “Fast & Furious 6” or “Furious 7,” features an elongated chase that just gets repetitive after a while, and at times defies even the most suspended of belief.
“The Fate of the Furious” is a hard film to critique because it’s a bad movie, but it knows it’s bad and that’s part of its charm. With a $250 million budget, it looks great and features some impressively staged sequences, but all too often I found myself teetering toward bored and that shouldn’t happen in a film that features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hanging out of a car to shove missile towards a submarine in arctic Russia. Here’s the bottom line: if you love these movies, you’re going to like this one. If you’re like me and these films are just all right, then this is certainly one of the weaker installments. And if you enjoy logic and films obeying the laws of physics and gravity…well then you checked out about five movies ago.
Critic’s rating: 5 out of 10.