The Fate of the Furious

Film Review |By Christian Tesfaye - Exclusive to Fortune

The new movie "The Fate of the Furious" is a sequel to the franchise Fast and Furious. Although the story pretends to be about family and loyalty, that is just a mask. It is more centered on new cars, hot girls, and action scenes. This is sure going to bag the movie big bucks. The appearance of Dwayne Johnson a.k.a "the Rock" saved the movie as he was very entertaining. 4 out of 10 stars.

I have too much time on my hands, which is why I sometimes find myself watching nine hours of film in a single day. On Friday, I descended upon a very diverse set of evocative movies. First, it was Lindsay Anderson’s satirist If…, which is a very political movie steeped in anti-establishment values. Then there was David Lynch’s obscure Lost Highway, which, I think (it is usually hard to tell what is really happening in a Lynch movie), mostly takes place inside the mind of a very disturbed felon. Since I started watching the movies only on the afternoon, the night jostled the sunny day during Mel Gibson’s three-hour long Braveheart, which I have seen several times. To top the day off, and before I would slip into sleep, I watched Billy Wilder’s very evocative, very sharp-eyed The Apartment, for the fifth or sixth time in three years.

Waking up the next day, I found out that the new arrival at the multiplex was none other than the new installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. It quickly dawned on me that the movies I had seen the previous day were going to stand in sharp contrast to this latest action-adventure sequel.

How could a man fairly judge a Justin Beiber song after having listened to a Beatles album?

How could one appropriately appreciate a selfie after having witnessed the Sistine Chapel?

I decided to go the day after, hoping my memory would be less sensitive to the tacky narrative. It did not work.

The title itself is too soap-operatic.

The Fate of the Furious?

This is an action movie; why not try something akin to Mad Max or Die Hard, which makes it clear to the audience that there is only a plot, but not a story. The Fate of the Furious sounds so melodramatic, like we were going to find out that Dominic Toretto was the rightful king of Scotland.

The film opens in Havana. Now that Fidel is dead, and the country has a better relationship with the United States, it is easier to make movies in Cuba. The customary car race takes place, Toretto (the abominable Vin Diesel) with the local thug, and obviously the former wins, thereby proving that he still got it.

One woman though is unperturbed by his skills and wants to take him on. She is called Cipher (Charlize Theron), a master hacker who has been off the grid for a long time. She also holds something that Toretto would (literally) start a nuclear war for, or turn against his “family”. The team from the previous films and some new additions try to stop Toretto.

They were a number of things I noticed about the series from this movie. The franchise pretends to be about family, loyalty or other respectable things. It is not. It is about new cars, hot girls, and gravity defying action sequences played out in metropolitan cities. It is also formulaic in terms of plot in a number of ways. Toretto never loses a race, Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Parker (Chris Bridges) have to make a sophomoric joke to every situation and the villains rarely die, in fact, they come back in the sequel as friends of the good guys.

Thankfully, there are those that make this film slightly bearable. Dwayne Johnson is always a delight to watch. It is very hard to deny that the series became more successful after Johnson’s inclusion. As a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler we should not be baffled that he is such a showman, as WWE performers are more actors than athletes. His looks and success in Hollywood though remind me of a young O.J. Simpson, which is not a good omen.

A previous foe and a new friend, the character Shaw is played by Jason Statham. His short stature but inarguably tough guy looks make him a suitable candidate for a modern Charles Bronson. Add to this a badass British accent, and he is one of the coolest actors out there. I just hope he would make better movies or reads the scripts before he signs onto projects.

Another highly regarded action persona that has made it into the franchise is Kurt Russell of Escape into New York fame. Russell was that hard-bitten action hero, with a reasonable set of muscles, at a time when action heroes (played by Schwarzenegger or Stallone) looked like steroid addicted, tongue-tied brutes.

But what of the villain?

All main antagonists in the franchise have been male until now. Theron plays the cruel and shifty Cipher or at least tries to. She appears mainly glib and rigid, which is rare for an actor of Theron’s stature. I do not believe it was the part of the villain she was unable to play, but the part of a villain in a cartoonish franchise whose success is heavily dependent on the intellectual dubiousness of the audience.

Clearly, I do not recommend the film, but that is not my job anyway. The Fate of the Furious is a film populated by idiots driving cars, crashing cars, blowing up cars, jumping from cars, punching people, ogling at girls and making bad jokes, which is (not so paradoxically) why it will end up making a lot of money.




By Christian Tesfaye
Exclusive to Fortune

Published on Apr 22,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 885]



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