Little introduction is required for THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, the eighth movie in the franchise that began way back in 2001 as a simple street racing romp. Things have come a long way since then and F. Gary Gray’s 2017 outing has all the requisite cheese and absurdity, cooking up over two hours of get-up-and-go. This is an brazen energy drink of a film and that’s fine because there is no effort to hide the proceedings under the pretext of something reflective. Even when nuclear hell threatens to break loose, this humdinger’s got jokes.
The plot is straightforward. Vin Diesel’s Dom and Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty are on their honeymoon in Havana when cyberterrorist Cypher (Charlize Theron) shows up and blackmails Dom into doing a little work. He has to betray his team, however, and that requires a bit of sticky business and the acquisition of the first of many MacGuffins. The team, helmed in large part by DSS agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), is hurt by the apparent disloyalty but sets out after Dom as part of a covert ops team run by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Meanwhile, the particulars of Cypher’s despicable plot become clear.
From the preposterous opening sequence in Havana to the climactic head-to-head in Russia, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS is all about the shrieking rubber and implausible stunts. There are cars abundant, as you’d expect. There is a nuclear sub and a nuclear football. And the movie’s most enjoyable sequence finds Cypher making good use out of a veritable tempest of self-driving cars, which only hints at a fleet of potential horror flicks. Another cool piece lets Jason Statham draw on his TRANSPORTER chops with a baby in tow. The action is shot through Stephen F. Windon’s tenacious lens, which is in a constant state of lunging, churning motion.
Sonically, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS is awash in screeching tires, roaring engines and blockbuster bass drops. Brian Tyler’s score sweeps through when needed, but it’s mostly tonal garnish. It matches the one-note acting, which has little importance when most of the dialogue is encompassed of expository drivel. Luckily, the level of explanation serves the artless proceedings well and it’s kind of charming to have a villain explain her actions every step of the bloody way. The problems in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS are abundant, but who cares? Gray’s picture is about energy, hype and heat. And for the most part, this nitrous shot to the gut burns a whole lot of fuel.