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'The Fate of the Furious' Film Review: Latest 'Fast & Furious' sequel will leave fans shaken, not stirred

April 14, 2017Ben MK

Like the 007 film franchise, the Fast & Furious series' affinity for fast cars and beautiful women is well known. And like Bond — whose globetrotting exploits have generally grown increasingly preposterous with the passage of time — recent Fast & Furious movies have embraced grandiose spectacle on a global scale, a trend that continues — unsurprisingly — into the series' eighth installment.

Last we left Vin Diesel and co., Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) had finally regained her memory after nearly perishing in Fast Five and spending most of Fast & Furious 6 working for British bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans); the crew dealt a crushing blow to Shaw and his older brother, Deckard (Jason Statham); and they gained a new ally in the form of a hacktivist named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who helped them recover a powerful counterintelligence weapon called the God's Eye for a shadowy government agent known only as Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell).

So, how can The Fate of the Furious possibly top that? The film begins in low gear, with Dom (Diesel) and Letty enjoying, for all intents and purposes, a well-deserved and long-overdue second honeymoon in Cuba. However, fate soon intervenes when a cyber-terrorist calling herself Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up out of nowhere, blackmailing Dom to do the unthinkable by betraying his family and joining her ranks. As you probably already guessed, he does; and, as a result, the formerly tight-knit crew find themselves in hot pursuit of one of their own.

It turns out Cipher would like nothing better than to hold the world's governments accountable for their actions, and to do so, she's going to need an arsenal of nukes. It's a scheme worthy of a Bond villain for sure, but The Fate of the Furious is no Bond film. It may shift gears from the sweltering streets of Havana, to midtown Manhattan, to a frozen Siberian tundra, serving up implausible action sequences tailored to each region's specific geography, but its pacing is laborious, its dialogue is laughable, and its plot is ill-conceived (the latter two more so than usual).

That being said, it's not all bad news for Fast & Furious fans, as director F. Gary Gray and screenwriter Chris Morgan at least make a solid effort to keep the franchise feeling familiar. And aside from the action, the best thing about the movie remains its cast. Of course, with the untimely passing of Paul Walker in 2013, both his and Jordana Brewster's characters have been written out this time around. Otherwise, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, and even Jason Statham are back, and they're joined by Helen Mirren and Scott Eastwood as well.

The result is a sequel that's equal parts entertaining and frustrating. The action set-pieces are over-the-top, as one might expect, but they're too few and far between; Theron's "Big Bad" falls flat when compared to Mad Max: Fury Road's Imperator Furiosa; even the humor, a welcome trademark of the series, has started to lose its edge. Overall, there's certainly some mileage fans can get out of this latest attempt at high-octane adventure. But if this is the fate of the Fast & Furious, then perhaps the franchise should have jammed on the brakes after lucky number seven.

The Fate of the Furious releases April 14th, 2017 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 16 Mins.

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