The Fate of the Furious Re-View
The Hobbs movie is going to be amazing. Dwayne Johnson is so incredibly charming in the role as the soon-to-be eponymous DSS agent. His chemistry with Jason Statham is immense. They both know how to lean into the excessive machoisms of their roles in action cinema. They’re both action actors with incredible comic timing and physical presence: Statham in martial ability and Johnson in size. Neither of them have really got their dues either. Sure, Statham has been in one good action film in the first Transporter movie and Johnson in The Rundown/Welcome to the Jungle, but aside from those their careers have been lacklustre (Fast and Furious movies also being exceptions). If we’re being honest, Johnson and Statham are better actors and stars than those that got more than they deserved in the ‘80s (soz Van Damme).
The best parts of Fate of the Furious really are the bits that effectively serve as a prequel to the Hobbs and Shaw team up in the upcoming (and controversial in some quarters) Hobbs movie. However, even when you set aside their great prison sequence and banter, the rest of the movie is really quite great as well.
A lot is said about Johnson picking up the slack in this franchise after joining the fifth movie. However one can’t deny Vin Diesel’s appeals either. He is quite good at balancing the persona of an invincible action hero with an everyman appeal. It’s his bread and butter. Unlike any Fast and Furious movie before he actually gets to add some dramatic weight to proceedings here. Sure, the baby/mother kidnap motivations are more than a little tropey and perhaps out of date, but Diesel sells the hell out of it. One feels his conflict rolling off of him. Fate has the usual discussion of ‘family’, but this time the thematic buzzword is actually integral to the film. The villain Cipher (a very reliable Charlize Theron) is playing Diesel’s various family loyalties off against each other: His wife and their friends against his ex and his child with her, whilst having to trust Shaw, a man who killed a member of their ‘family’.
There’s also a sequence where the team have to survive a submarine attack on ice. Or when Cipher remote controls seemingly every car in New York at them. Or Hobbs and Shaw charge through prison guards. Or Shaw taking down a plane John Wick-style, but whilst holding a baby. Except this time there is a degree of dramatic weight behind the set pieces, rather than just adoration of schlock. One may recall upon release that the movie’s action sequences were compared negatively to past titles. However the editing was evenly spaced, the shots were wider and the punches and kicks had physical weight to them. Are we perhaps already into the rose-tinted stage in regards to past instalments?
Letty also actually gets to do some cool shit. Roman isn’t as annoying and Ramsay gets to call him and Tej out on their creepiness towards her. Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood and Helen Mirren all got to ham it up in essentially what were extended cameos. They’re all a lot of fun.
Fate of the Furious is smarter than previous titles and the action is better shot. The movie manages to get some dramatic weight out of proceedings (I even let go of a tear at one point thanks to Diesel’s acting) but without it taking things too seriously. We still have the Bond-on-adrenaline globetrotting and the ludicrous chase sequences that all seem to say “hold my beer” to the proceeding sequences. It also actually feels faster paced than the previous two titles, which is a relief given the film’s length and it is appropriate for the series’ names.