2017-04-14

Fate of the Furious

by Yo Snyder

At this point, the Fast and Furious franchise is as much Mission: Impossible and The Avengers as it is about fast cars and furious street races. The crazy thing is somehow that still works, and works just fine. The Fate of the Furious is every bit as predictable, over-the-top, ridiculous and silly as you would expect. It’s also rather thrilling, funny, exciting and just plain fun to watch no matter how stupid it gets. That is this franchise’s super power; it remains ever entertaining no matter what it does.

As the trailers have revealed, this time around Dom break bad and betrays his family to work for the evil Cipher; a bond villain in a Fast and Furious movie played by a chilly Charlize Theron. Dom’s motivation for all he does, however, is something that actually makes a lot of sense (something that’s rarely said for these movies) and quite emotional. With that as the catalyst for the film, the usual hijinks ensue; cars race around, explosions erupt, fist fights ensue, one-liners fly, human bodies survive what no human body could ever survive, criminal actions ignored because the bad guys (our “heroes”) aren’t as bad as the bad-er guys, and so on.

However, let’s be honest here; is plot really all that important to this franchise? Don’t get me wrong, this franchise does have its occasional poignant moments (we’ll miss Bryan…er…Paul), and this film is no exception, but really what fuels these films is ridiculous action. Fate of the Furious definitely delivers on that front, and it finds a way to once again up the ante; but not by much. After all, how much bigger can you get after towing a giant safe, chasing the world’s biggest plane on the world’s longest runway, and jumping a super car through three skyscrapers? This time the hijinks involve a nuclear submarine because, well, why not? Pretty sure those cars could easily outmaneuver a submarine, but it still looks kinda cool, in a ridiculous way, to have a sub chasing our heroes across the ice while stuff blows up. All the set pieces here are vintage Fast and Furious ridiculousness and awesomeness, but I do have one minor gripe. I’m not a fan of the quick-cut, shaky camera work during fight scenes. I don’t think it really adds much so far as upping the intensity and chaotic vibe so much as makes things confusing. If you’re going to show me an awesome fight sequence, then show me the awesome fight sequence. Films like John Wick have proven that you don’t have to have the camera bouncing around everywhere to make a fight sequence more intense. If anything, being able to clearly see how the fight goes down can actually make those fights more exciting.

I still find it fascinating that this group of rogues who break laws, callously kill, maim and destroy, lie, cheat and steal, can somehow come together consequence free at the end of each film for a lovely family barbecue and say grace before they eat. I’ve just never understood why showing us them praying before they eat is supposed to make us think of them as “good guys” after all the bad stuff they’ve done throughout the movie. However, then I remembered that grace, God’s grace, has never been all that fair. Grace cost God everything and us, who were the only guilty party in all of this, nothing. That’s not fair. Jesus paid for us the price for all the laws we’ve broken, and he paid with his life. How’s that fair? God then offers forgiveness and redemption for all who accept Jesus’ sacrifice. Basically, no matter if we were as bad as Shaw was in the last movie (didn’t he also destroy a hospital?), we can be accepted as a member of the team with a clean slate; it’s like the last movie never happened, or if it did, it was quickly forgotten. That’s grace, and that’s powerful. It’s also something that can be easily abused, which is why repentance—the willingness to, stop, change, and go in the opposite direction—is so important.

However, there’s little in the way of repentance to be found in Fate of the Furious. It is unrepentantly as over-the-top and ridiculous as any of its predecessors. It’s also in turns rather dark and very funny. How these films balance all of their unwieldly elements to produce something so fizzy and fun remains a mystery to me, but the fact of the matter is it just works. Fate of the Furious is exactly what you would expect from this movie; no more, no less. Yes it’s dumb, try not to think too much about what’s happening and why because your head will hurt, but it’s also just a good, fun time at the movies. So maybe the Fast and Furious franchise doesn’t have much to do with street racing any more, but does it really matter when you get to see a car outrace a heat seeking missile fired from a submarine all while racing across ice in the Arctic? No, of course it doesn’t.

Score: 5 of 7 – Fate of the Furious has some racy shots of lovely women at the start, but then settles down and just focuses cars and explosions and fights. There are some pretty intense moments that can be a bit dark, and of course there’s a large smattering of macho language throughout. Par for the course for this series, but still something to consider.