TICK OF APPROVAL MOVIE REVIEW
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Hello one and all, if you’ve made it this far then welcome; finally, to the very first Tick of Approval Movie Review!
Today I’m going to the running through The Fate of the Furious (why they didn’t go with ’The F8 of the Furious’ is beyond me but that’s another mystery for another time!); the eighth film in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, and the first to be directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, Law Abiding Citizen). The movie stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron; and a cavalcade of other new and returning faces.
Now you are in either one of two camps when it comes to this franchise. Whether you strap yourself in for 2 hours of thrill rides and non-stop entertainment; or think that these movies are all that is wrong with modern cinema, you cannot deny that these movies know how to draw a crowd and put bums-on-seats.
Personally I have to be in the former category. I’ve really enjoyed every movie from Fast Five onwards, and think even the first four films have their moments to shine.
However, having said that; I came into this movie wary of the potential for franchise fatigue, and the possibility that this movie could finally be too silly for its own good. Nevertheless, I was still keen to see what this movie could throw at me!
(From this point on, I will try my best to keep to what I call ‘trailer-level spoilers’. If it was in the trailers, then it’s fair game!)
Before you cynics out there can roll your eyes and stamp your feet. Yes, I consider this movie to have a story.
The movie opens with Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez) rejoicing in peace following the events of Furious Seven. As always with this franchise; it doesn’t take long for the old crew to get brought back into the fray. And If you have seen the trailers then you know exactly what they’re facing this time around….Dom! (Admittedly with some puppet-mastering- [Hang on, ‘puppet-mastering’? Is that even a word?] Yes it is today so deal with it! Anyway where was I? Oh yes…) -puppet-mastering from Cipher (Theron), a world-class hacker and ‘cyber-terrorist’.
The team or family, if you prefer (y’know, seems appropriate and all), once again employ their borderline superhuman abilities and to a lesser extent; their driving skills to put a stop to Cipher’s plan and find out exactly what has Dom’s loyalties not just tested but seemingly broken.
The film follows a more or less standard action movie plot without too many drastic deviations from the norm. As per the previous films in the franchises, the test of the film is the flow in between the various set-pieces that intercut the movie. One positive throughout the story is that the emotional beats that the movie aims to hit generally hit the mark and managed to keep me invested.
Yes, this movie does have several gaps in logic and plot holes; but in my experience, I found them to be blended into the film more smoothly than past entries in the franchise. The only major exception to this loosely-applied rule involves Deckard Shaw (Statham) and how his character is utilised throughout the film. You definitely know what I mean if you’ve seen it.
Overall; despite the predictable nature of certain character arcs, the decisions made by the writers and director make for a more than adequate action movie story that certainly made me intrigued as to what was coming next.
SCORE – 7/10
By now if you have seen the past entries in the Fast & Furious franchise; you have the general idea of the role each character plays in the movie. E.g. Hobbs (Johnson) is the tough yet charismatic hero, Letty the tough as nails yet loyal heroine, Roman (Gibson) the chronic shit-talker, etc, etc. So I’ll confine this section to the new and noteworthy aspects of the characters that struck me.
Charlize Theron as Cipher was great for this movie as a Bond Villain-esque cold-hearted bitch who puppet-mastered (Shut-up, we covered this earlier) our heroes throughout the story. Her ice-cold demeanour was palpable through the screen and raised her hand for the award of ‘Best-Bad-Guy/Girl-in-a-Fast-and-Furious-Movie’. Alongside her for much of the movie is Diesel who admittedly is unlikely to win any acting awards in the near future. But for several key emotional scenes; actually lent some subtle yet distinct gravity in skill rarely seen from Diesel.
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and Scott Eastwood as the aptly named ‘Little Nobody’ play a greater and new role respectively; with a greater emphasis placed on Eastwood’s character. Making me wonder if he was potentially being earmarked as a replacement for the late Paul Walker’s character in films down the line.
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw was one of, if not the highlight of the movie. In particular his aggressive yet hilarious chemistry with Hobbs and one Toretto in particular. Forgetting the aforementioned issues that are raised with his inclusion in the film. Statham reinforced his status as the peak of modern-day action stars, but more surprisingly showed off his underlying comedic ‘chops’ that made him the highlight of Spy.
Having said that; with the inclusion of several newer characters, it understandably led to a few of the old favourites losing out on both screen-time and development. Tej Parker (Bridges) and Ramsey (Emmanuel) in particular play quite a similar role to each other and both don’t quite get the opportunity to shine. Tyrese Gibson as always still manages to generate laughs all throughout the movie; but for whatever reason just doesn’t quite have the impact seen in the past.
The performances and character development gain paces with some new faces and motivations despite losing paces in others. This makes for a reasonably consistent display continuing on from where it left off from Furious Seven.
One of the aspects of a Fast & Furious film you can generally count on is absolutely thrilling (if not slightly ridiculous) action. And boy does this film deliver in spades. F. Gary Gray and co. once again found new ways to raise the bar with car-based stunts and action set pieces. This may be just me; but in contrast to the previous film, I didn’t find any of them too ridiculous either. I’m not saying that any of the outlandish things attempted in the films weren’t flat out impossible in the real world; but I didn’t find myself looking at the screen and saying “Oh get f***ed!”. (Yes, yes, I know there is a scene where The Rock manhandles a torpedo, but what can I say? I bought into it!)
A majority of other technical aspects of the movie were much of a muchness as the films in the past. You know when you go into these movies that you’re going to get a whole bunch of money-shots of the rear end of both cars & girls, and a loud up-tempo soundtrack. In that regard I didn’t feel that F. Gary Gray put his own defining touch on the movie, but rather carried on what was laid out before him. Not to say that is a particularly negative thing. As the box office is showing: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
I’ll cut right to the chase. This movie is exactly what you expect it to be. It forgoes the gritty visceral action of your John Wicks and Raid movies for loud, over the top, bombastic thrills. And by no means is any less satisfying. As a straight out action movie, this succeeds. And in my opinion, just cements that the deviation that this franchise took in the fifth instalment was the correct course to sail.
As touched on earlier, the raised stakes and influx of newer characters do take away from more comedic elements normally present in a Fast & Furious film. However this is compensated for by the touching emotional aspects that are brought in. By no means is it a gritty hard hitting drama; but one of the positives I found in the movie is that it achieves its goal of pure entertainment, whilst still knowing how and when to take a breath and shift things into a lower gear (Haha car puns).
We have seen already this year the two different routes that an action movie can take with the juxtaposition of this movie, and Logan. I view them as two different but still delicious flavours of ice cream. Appreciating and marvelling at one, by no means says that the other has any less of a place.
Put simply; this movies mission is to entertain and thrill. Does it do this? Yes, with tremendous ease.
As always, I like to include a section of pure self-indulgence where I can go on about how I felt and how much I enjoyed the movie.
I had a blast with this movie. I have no idea if it is because I went in with lower expectations and bracing myself for a sloppy mess of a movie; or if it truly is the action extravaganza I saw it to be. But hey, I don’t care how or why I like a movie. All that matters is that I walk out of the cinema feeling good about what I just sat through!
This may just be the recency factor coming into play. But this movie stood out to me as one of the high points of an already entertaining franchise! To be perfectly honest, it’s jostling with Fast Five as my favourite film of the whole series!
So yes, if you couldn’t already tell from my over the top gushing. I really liked this movie.
This movie was a great time for me but, you know just by looking at the trailer or watching the past films whether or not this movie is for you.
The tough thing when it comes to looking at a movie like this; is being able to review it in the context of just this movie, without referring back or comparing it to past films in the franchise. But on that level alone; I can say that this movie was a success! The defining factor when it comes to separating this movie from other ‘trashier’ action films; is the sense of fun and awareness that comes with it. This movie is under no illusions as to what it is, which for me makes it all the more appealing.
So, go out and see the movie! It’s fun, over-the-top, silly, and loud, and I think that if you know what you are getting yourself in for, you will see the fun side of it too! This movie most definitely gets: the Tick of Approval.
75% Approval Rating