'The Fate Of The Furious' Shows That The Franchise Has Run Out Of Gas

By Anthony Taormina
Released: April 14, 2017
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When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

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Film Review
Although the Fast and the Furious franchise has never been one to abide by common logic or even coherent narrative, it has done well thanks to popcorn entertainment and some star power. At some point, though, the series was going to run out of gas, and if any of the nonsensical previous entries didn't do it for you, The Fate of the Furious likely fits the bill.

While most of the past films have been focused on building up the team, The Fate of the Furious tears it down by having Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto go rogue. Of course, Dom's change of allegiance is not genuine one, but it gives his character a chance to work opposite Charlize Theron's Cipher, an A-list hacker with nefarious aims. With Dom working on the wrong side, the rest of the group recruits the last film's villain, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), to ensure the status quo of overstuffed cast remains in balance. And then the new crew takes on their former leader, who is still their former leader, but he just needs to work for the bad guys for this particular film.

The Fate of the Furious, photo courtesy Universal Pictures 2017, all rights reserved.

It's a shoddy setup for what amounts to a shoddy action film, one with only three major action set pieces, two of which aren't particularly exciting. The Fate of the Furious feels the most uninspired of the franchise entries, which up to this point have included cars falling out of planes, dueling tanks, and leaping off bridges. There is one particularly impressive showdown with a submarine in the film, but the rest is the vehicular equivalent of two thugs punching each other back and forth. If nothing else, you could typically rely on these films to deliver silly action, but The Fate of the Furious barely clears that mark this time around.

Considering the action is barely passable, it's no surprise that the story and the character work in The Fate of the Furious is subpar even by series standards. Granted, the films have never been particularly logical or well thought out, but even then this one feels lazy in its construction. Dom's heel turn is fine on its own, but without his character centering the core group it's hard to find anyone to care about. Tyrese's Roman Pierce, for example, spends the entire film hitting one-note, comedic relief beats, and is never given anything more to do than that. Johnson's Luke Hobbs is constantly at odds with Statham's character until suddenly they aren't, despite the fact that Shaw was a major threat in the last film.

The Fate of the Furious, photo courtesy Universal Pictures 2017, all rights reserved.

Everything in the film feels motivated by either obligation or necessity, and very little drives the audience forward by their own momentum. It's a chore to get through each expository moment, and finding anything tangible to be invested in is extremely difficult. Charlize Theron chews the scenery pretty well and the final set piece is exciting, but that's really all The Fate of the Furious has going for it. No doubt the screenwriters were hoping to freshen up the series with a plot twist, but pulling Vin Diesel out of the driver's seat leaves the film feeling aimless and without purpose. Eight movies in, they had to do something, but this is not the answer.
Action Sequences
Outside of a final act dual location set piece, The Fate of the Furious is purely forgettable from an action perspective. It has very little to offer early on, and what action it does have is of the nauseating, cars-exploding-and-ramming-each-other variety. There's only so many times an audience can see two cars smash into each other before it starts to feel stale, and the franchise has been doing it for eight movies. To the film's credit, the stunts find some clever ways to bring the internal conflict of the group into the external conflict of car-based stunts, but there isn't enough of that to make a difference. In some cases, the excitement of the finale will be enough to cleanse the palette of the generic (by Fast and Furious' standards) fluff that has come before it, but no doubt fans will be left wanting more.

The Fate of the Furious, photo courtesy Universal Pictures 2017, all rights reserved.

Action, Crime, Thriller
Release Date
April 14, 2017
MPAA Rating
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