While seeking retirement with his new wife Letty Ortiz (Rodriguez), Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is brought back into the crime scene by Cipher (Theron), who mysteriously turns him against his former friends and family.
The “Fast and Furious” franchise surprisingly improves with each film. Well, each movie has been better than the last, per se. It’s less of uphill climb in quality and more of a wavelength at a 45 degree angle. Either way, the new ones are better than the old ones, and while this film isn’t better than the previous film “Furious 7”, it’s a still a very fun time in the theater.
F. Gary Gray is taking over the director’s chair from “Furious 7” director James Wan, and he seemed like a good fit since he was announced as the director of the film. The last film he directed was the well received N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” and is also known for his work in “Friday.” Each “Fast and Furious” movie has had a Hip-Hop sort of vibe, especially when it comes to the soundtrack. Getting the guy that both directed Ice Cube and a movie about Ice Cube is a near match made in heaven.
The core aspect of “Fast Five” that changed the franchise from bad to good was how it finally embraced the absolute stupidity the series has come to be known for. Each subsequent film has followed this, to the point where Vin Diesel and The Rock are practically superheroes. Spoiler alert, but in the last movie, Vin Diesel lifts a car, which should indicate everything. Gray holds true to this in “Fate,” and the formula still works. The feats that these supposed human-beings accomplish disobey every law of physics, but that's what makes it so much fun to watch.
Despite this, the film does feel it's been taken a notch down from the previous installments. It’s still ridiculous, but compared to the last movie, it feels significantly less impactful. Not to give anything away, but the final act of the movie feels much more passive than “Furious 7.” There isn’t that extra punch, but that’s most likely due to this film not having to deal with the loss of a cast member like the previous film did with Paul Walker. It’s a tough act to follow, so the filmmakers should be given a break, but either way, the film’s energy does feel like it has gone lower instead of higher.
With this, the action in the film does teeter close to shakey cam at times. It doesn’t come too close, the action is still good and well filmed, but there are times the camera will shake or cut too much where it starts to become hard make out what exactly is going on. This has been an issue for all of the movies, even the good ones. It’s something that would be nice to see either improve or go away altogether in future installments. It isn’t too distracting, though, and the action still has plenty of impressive shots and camera angles that make up for it.
Vin Diesel has never been a stellar actor. He’s not bad. He’s no Keanu Reeves, who ranges anywhere from bad to decent, but mostly bad. He’s never given a tour de force performance, which continues here. However, credit is due where credit is due. Diesel does have a couple moments where he does show a good amount of intensity. Nothing to win an Oscar for, but he does use his voice in such a why that it becomes clear that tuff is about to go down.
Charlize Theron, on the other hand, is great. Her character isn’t that deep, but Theron is the type of actor that can supercede that sort of thing. She’s clearly not just there to collect a paycheck. She looks like she’s having a lot of fun playing a villain and that resonates off the screen. There are even a few moments where she comes off as a little creepy, making her eyes stare in such a way that sends shivers down someone’s spine.
The rest of the actors sort of just do their thing. Tyrese Gibson is still the comic relief. Michelle Rodriguez is still mad. The Rock is still the most charming man alive. Nobody stretches their acting chops here, but in a “Fast and Furious” movie, it’s safe to guess that no one's going in expecting that. Everyone does their job and it all serves the movie well. However, there is one actor in the movie that looks eerily like Paul Newman, so much so that it would make someone think he’s risen from the grave. Hate to break it, but Paul Newman is still dead.
The “Fast and Furious” franchise is big, stupid fun and the “The Fate of the Furious” is big stupid fun. It doesn’t have the same level of horsepower as the previous installment, but the chemistry of all of the cast members is still there and Charlize Theron makes for a great villain. It’s a great popcorn flick to just sit back and watch how far The Rock can throw a man.