Who would have thought after watching the very first film in this franchise back in 2001 that it still wouldn’t have run out of gas by 2017!? If you feel like you have some catching up to do why not check out my retrospective of the series to date; ‘Fast and Furious: The Race So Far’. As a passionate fan of these films I was worried about what direction this new movie would go in. With bizarre casting announcements, trailers depicting action beyond belief and the first film since ‘Tokyo Drift’ not to feature Paul Walker I had prepared myself for the worst.
All coherent narrative left this series around the finale of the sixth installment so it was no surprise that the writing here is utterly woeful. The lack of sense throughout so many elements to this story is dumbfounding. The plot here is so convoluted that trying to keep up with it is as hard as beating Dominic Toretto in a quarter mile drag race. The villainous plot is the most ridiculous to date and also manages to undermine previous narratives and characters. In a lazy attempt to connect the films the back catalogue of movies are offered up to be manipulated in which ever way this new installment chooses. The only positive that I can glean from the writing here is some of the comedy is still funny. This is an element intrinsic to the success of this series and whilst it’s certainly not at its peak here there are laughs to be had and not just ironic ones.
The ‘Fast’ series is less about cars now and more about what can be done with cars. The characters here are now acting as some kind of International Rescue style group which can be called upon in world crisis. Can’t these guys just be street racers, why do they have to be turned into another cinematic superhero team? If ‘Furious 7’ was set on debunking the myth that “cars don’t fly”, ‘The Fate of the Furious’ steps it up a whole other level. However, this is the issue. The constant need to out do the predecessors in the series will always halt this franchise from moving forward. This installment shows promise beginning in a more grounded manner. A sequence which would have felt at home in the first few films. This grounded nature lasts mere minutes though as now the films are so focused on the stunts, that rather then being a part of the film they now are the film. This of course comes at expense of the narrative which is told in whatever way necessary for the film to give context for said stunts. For me, these sequences only hold real spectacle when there are stakes within the story. The level of ridiculousness and poor writing mean that the sheer scale of the stunts aren’t enough to impress anymore. I’m amazed to say that for the first time whilst watching a ‘Fast’ film I was genuinely bored.
You might expect the much loved cast & characters to be the saving grace for any fan of the series. It’s unfortunately much on the contrary though. Characters that once had viewers care have become parodies of themselves meaning that like the film as a whole you just don’t feel attached to them. The banter between The Rock and Jason Statham in their roles does feature real moments of humour but more often then not it’s the poor writing and over the top performances that get the wrong kind of laugh. The chemistry between Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris & newcomer Scott Eastwood maintains and builds on its previous credibility somewhat but still isn’t at its best here. Kurt Russell’s ‘Mr Nobody’ is still bizarre as anything but he comes across well as he mainly takes the piss of the on screen situation. The rest of the returning cast are much the same, especially Nathalie Emmanuel who’s equally as bad as she was in the last film. The new additions are a mixed bag. When it was announced that Charlize Theron was cast as the villain I was quite pleased. However with the writing provided, her crazy eyes and those dreads she quickly becomes the most laughable villain the ‘Fast’ universe has ever seen. On the other hand though Helen Mirren, you’d think the least likely actress to see in this series, almost steals the whole film. She has a blink and you’ll miss it couple of scenes but she was the most fun of the lot!
Any fan who had previously invested in characters or story should hate this film. It’s a sell out of the biggest kind, satisfying the needs of casual mainstream viewers in spectacular fashion. It will find its audience and be a major success but in doing so like the characters in the film it has become a parody of itself. Your enjoyment of the film will very much depend on how you approach it. Work that one out and I wouldn’t blame you for having fun with it. When you look back on the road traveled so far though I can’t come to any other conclusion than this, without a doubt it’s the worst entry into the ‘Fast and Furious’ series by a heck of a lot more than a quarter mile.
Rating – 2/10
Question: What is your favourite ‘Fast and Furious’ stunt sequence?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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