Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, April 30, 2017

“Fate of the Furious” fires on all cylinders

For most film franchises, rarely is the sequel better than the original. But for the “Fast & Furious” franchise, which will release its eighth action-packed, thrilling and well-acted installment on April 14, the latest addition to the action series is by far one of the exceptions.

During the last several films in the “Furious” franchise, the central theme underlying the action has been family and brotherhood, a real-life phenomenon for the usual suspects in the cast. In “The Fate of the Furious,” the newest film in the series, the family connection between the characters is tested when their leader turns against them.

“The Fate of The Furious” begins with a wide-angle shot of the crew’s leader, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), riding a classic red Chevrolet Impala through Havana, Cuba. The opening scene is marked by beautiful women, bright-colored cars and vibrant music. Soon enough, the beginning escalates into a high-stakes race between Toretto and a rival racer for control of Toretto’s Impala.

The mile-long race is creatively shot, with a couple of motorcycles speeding through town and stopping traffic to make way for the two cars to speed through Havana. The scene is shot quickly, but not hastily, and interspersed shots of the city and its people add flair to the scene.

Watching “The Fate of the Furious” requires a necessary and willing suspension of disbelief. One place where this is needed is when Diesel drives a flaming car and beats his competitor in the race, even after having a motorcycle thrown at it, just in the film’s opening scene. However, if the viewer casts away their doubt regarding the probability of several over-the-top action scenes, they will soon be caught up in the film’s fun and engaging plot, which has several twists and turns.

Much of the film’s uproarious humor can be attributed to Dwayne Johnson, who returns for the fourth time to play Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs. Johnson is introduced in the film by his character leading his daughter’s soccer team in performing the intimidating traditional Maori “haka” dance before a game. At one point, Johnson and Jason Statham, who plays villain-turned-ally Deckard Shaw, both crack up at a joke that Hobbs makes. Johnson is a scene-stealer in “The Fate of the Furious” and is directly responsible for many of the film’s comedic moments.

Throughout the movie, there are several moments during action scenes that will make the viewer say, “Whoa, did you just see that?” One example is a thrilling action set piece in which Toretto and his crew are in pursuit after stealing an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) device in Berlin Germany. To get rid of the several cars on their heels, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who again plays mechanic Tej Parker, unleashes a wrecking ball, which knocks off clusters of cars in one fell swoop. Additionally, there is a high-action, intense prison escape scene that features creative fight choreography.

These two scenes pale in comparison to the final action set piece. In the thrilling action scene, Toretto’s crew infiltrate a military base in the Russian Arctic taken over by separatists. The chaos that ensues as they attempt to find Toretto and prevent the film’s ruthless villain from firing missiles from a nuclear submarine is enough reason to see the movie.  

Although the action and humor will certainly be what audiences remember the movie for, the dramatic scenes in “The Fate of The Furious” are engaging and well-acted. The chemistry between Charlize Theron, who plays cyber-terrorist Cipher, and Diesel enhances the well-directed drama scenes, which are a substantial improvement on the dramatic elements of previous films in the series. Theron plays a cold-hearted, manipulative and ruthless villain who blackmails Toretto into working for her, which she does convincingly.

Other notable aspects of “The Fate of the Furious” include a minor yet memorable performance by Helen Mirren and a brief, thoughtful tribute to deceased actor Paul Walker that is a nice expression of the family connection between the characters and the actors in real life.

For all of the reasons discussed above, and for one hell of a fun time at the movies, see “Fate of the Furious.”

Grade: A-

The Fate of the Furious (PG-13) opens in theaters today, April 14.

life@theeagleonline.com


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