This weekend, I rewatched The Fate of the Furious. It didn't really stick with me the first time I watched it, and I remembered why this time around. Even by Fast and Furious standards, this movie is a ridiculous shitshow that takes the series to new highs and lows, not unlike a seizing heart. Every Fast movie since Five has emulated a different type of blockbuster in order to inject new fuel into the engine that drives this series a quarter mile every two years. Fate of the Furious doubles down on the absurdity and chooses to emulate Michael Bay, warts and all, and the result is a movie I have loads of mixed feelings about.
Well-directed vehicular action is the main reason I show up to these carnivals, and thankfully, F8 delivers on this front in pretty spectacular fashion. None of it makes a lick of sense, but there's something immensely satisfying about seeing dozens of cars literally raining down and exploding onto the street. And that's not even the final setpiece! There were some CG-assisted moments that occasionally took me out of the action, but by and large they are actually tossing these cars around, and it is fun to watch. The fight scenes are also pretty well-handled, especially the prison breakout that has Jason Statham and The Rock laying waste to dozens of faceless prisoners and guards.
It's everything else that suffers. These movies aren't known for their writing, but even by Fast and Furious standards this movie is dumber than a bag of chewed up meat. The story is needlessly complicated, and the dialogue is stale and contrived. It’s equal parts schmaltzy and schticky. Everyone speaks according to their character’s most dominant trait, barfing up stupid and meaningless platitudes (often about family) while explaining away the paper-thin story as it develops.
The cast still do a fine job making all of this stupidity mostly enjoyable to sit through. Despite being overstuffed with some characters that had no real reason to show up, there are a lot of charismatic people to enjoy. Scott Eastwood is not one of them. He is the worst thing that’s happened to this family since Han Seoul-Oh was both killed and revealed to actually be named Han Seoul-Oh. I have rarely seen an apple fall further from the tree than I have watching the son of Clint Eastwood getting out-acted by the entire cast of a Fast and Furious movie. Every second he's on screen is agony, from his poor attempts at comedy to his even worse attempts at pronouncing Nuclear. He is by far the shittiest thing about this movie and I hope he gives up on acting immediately.
Charlize Theron had a lot of promise as the villain, lord knows I certainly made plenty of Fast and Furiosa jokes to anyone within 10 feet of me for about a year, but sadly her potential is squandered as a by-the-numbers super hacker baddie that's been apparently pulling the strings this whole time or whatever. They tried to make her grand enough to tie together the Fast and Furious Cinematic Universe (I can't believe I said it either), but end up stumbling and making for a villain that was impossible to give a shit about on any real level.
I don't hate this movie, but I see that America's Great Saga is increasingly Tokyo Drifting in the wrong direction since its glorious rebirth in Fast Five. Thankfully, Justin Lin is returning for the "final" two films in the franchise, whose titles I'm forecasting here and now to be "Fast and Furi-IX" and "Fas-10 Furious." Here's hoping he can crank the e-brake in time to stylishly whip this out of control CIvic over the finish line, gracefully coming to a halt before running over scores of scantily-clad groupies.