The Fast and the Furious franchise has seen itself evolve-if you can call it that- over the past 16 years. They’ve gone from B-movie schlock to DVD bargain bin to action movie reboot to the film with the highest box office opening of all time. After 16 years the elusive appeal still captures the attention of mainstream audiences time and time again. I had yet to see any of the films until this past weekend when I embarked to the theater to enter this franchise at the eighth installment. My conclusion? I wasn’t missing much.
Before I begin, I’ll make one thing clear. I’m sure that if you’ve stuck with this persisting franchise for this long because for whatever reason it appeals to you, then I’m sure you’ll probably like this movie. It probably doesn’t matter to you what the critics say anyway, which is obvious, based on the fact that it made 530 million dollars this past weekend. So by all means, continue to enjoy these movies, I’m glad there’s something that makes you happy. As for me, this movie didn’t do anything but make me bored. The word on the street with the Fast and the Furious franchise is that they’re big, dumb fun action movies that throw caution to the wind and explode onto the screen with high octane entertainment. The reality? This film was really, really dull.
The movie begins with an extended opener in which Vin Diezel’s character races some Cuban dude for the keys to his car. It was an absurd sequence that lasted far too long and left me thinking, “If I’m getting fatigued in the opening set piece, this doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the film.” My suspicions were confirmed going forward as with each passing scene, the reality that this film was still slogging on grew more and more apparent. I won’t sugar coat it, if you find yourself easily bored by mindless action sequences with no stakes, your brain will begin to decompose if you watch this film for more than twenty minutes. Don’t misunderstand me, I am very fond of action films. The fact of the matter is I like well-done action films. The difference between a movie like The Fate of the Furious and John Wick: Chapter Two is all in the direction. John Wick managed to keep the energy up with escalating action sequences and bare-knuckled pacing, while Fate of the Furious, simply thinks that a series of fast cuts and a cameraman with Frostbite grabs the audience’s attention. If a car chase features quick cuts and a nonsensically shaking camera, it is simply impossible to tell what is going on, and thus your brain just shuts down. Extend that over an overblown two-hour sixteen-minute runtime and you’ve got yourself a mess.
Again, I haven’t seen the other films in the series so I cannot speak for them, but it’s always been my understanding that these movies are supposed to be fun, right? Well, The Fate of the Furious really isn’t. Sure there may be a couple quips by Tyrese Gibson thrown in to keep it funny, but for the vast majority of the film, the characters are just sort of scowling at the camera and lamenting the harshness of their lives. The plot of the film finds Vin Diezel, the leader of the team, breaking off to work with a bored Charlize Theron, and thus the squadron that he leaves behind feels the earth-shattering repercussions of his betrayal. And what are those repercussions? Basically, the entire cast just spends the movie wandering around looking angry and not really giving us any real emotion. The worst offenders of this are Vin Diezel and Michelle Rodriguez. While Diezel does have a couple scenes in which he attempts to prove himself as at least a B-actor, most of the movie finds him just doing things while looking slightly mean. In essence, he looks like somebody breathed life into a “bad guy” G.I. Joe action figure and told them to drive a car for two hours. Rodriguez, though, is just bad. She spends the whole film looking like a wet kitten and really, really overcooks it for the camera. The rest of them? Well, they just kind of exist. But I mean, were you really expecting much from Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges?
All in all, this movie just didn’t speak to me at all. There are a few moments of life, but a vast majority of the film just felt incredibly engorged. I wasn’t engrossed like I wanted to be, nor really even mildly entertained. It’s about twenty minutes too long, but when you’re in the trenches with it, that twenty minutes feels like a whole extra hour. Does this movie care what I think of it? No, obviously not, as they’ve already greenlit three more installments after this one. Do you care what I think of it? Probably not, as it made five hundred million dollars this past weekend. You could ask me, “Well what did you expect from The Fate of The Furious?” Well, I expected a good movie? Call me crazy.
All images are from The Fate of The Furious, from Universal Pictures