The Fate of the Furious (2017)
If I could accurately portray singing through text organically, know that I would be power ballad singing "PG-13" to stress that PG-13 just means "summer blockbuster." I know, it's not an absolute. But this movie should just accept the R-rating because we get close-up shots of girls' butts hanging out of shorts. Also, the language and the violence. It gives me the vapors! PG-13.
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
I swear that I wrote a review of this movie already. While this helps me all around, I encourage devoted readers to scour my old reviews and find a copy of it. Weebly swears that I didn't write a review on it. My only theory is that I did the podcast on this episode immediately after watching it and then forgot to add it to my "To-Write" list. Regardless, I thought I was done with the Fast and the Furious movies until the next one came out. Instead, I had to REWATCH one of these movies just to make sure that this review was given a fair shake. That's right. I had to do it. There was no option. Sure, I was the only person who was probably aware that there hadn't been a written review of this movie by me. But if my goal is to critically watch and respond to every movie I see, then I guess that means I had to rewatch The Fate of the Furious.
SPOILERS BECAUSE I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT: There's no narrative reason to name the kid Brian. If you wanted to do a tribute to Paul Walker, you name the kid "Paul" or "Walker" or "Paul Walker." Think about it. I'm going to seem really heartless here, but I can't get my head around the canon of what is happening in The Fast and the Furious movies. In the universe, Brian still hangs out with them on a regular basis. In fact, there's a line that is implying that Brian will be at the family BBQ any minute. They see each other all of the time. While they were still racing cars together and boosting equipment together, they didn't get along very well. Yes, there was a bond. But that bond was probably equal to or weaker than some of the other people in the crew. In fact, Han probably means more to Dom than Brian should. Han's death is all kinds of problematic given this whole film. This movie does one of my least favorite tropes: the bad guy becomes the good guy. (I suppose that's what this whole series is about, but this one is flagrantly bad.) I love Jason Statham. I actually genuinely and unironically like Furious 7, where he's the bad guy. He makes a great bad guy, but you can't keep on using him as such. This movie really goes out of its way to make Jason Statham's Deckard part of the team. I don't know if this is a future movies thing and I'm glad he's on the team, but Deckard is pretty unforgivable. He killed Han. But here they all are, joking around with this guy like, "He's not that bad." No, he killed Han. He was the emotional motivation behind the last film. It's the reason that a lot of the cast made silly choices: they were reacting emotionally because DECKARD KILLED HAN. Yes, he's great as a good guy. Lots of bad guys tend to be. But there is no "earning it" with this one. He just IS a good guy now and we all have to accept it. But I digress. I think that Paul Walker should be memorialized by the cast and crew. I think that's emotionally appropriate. I just think it is silly that the kid is named Brian in this context. (BTW, when mom says, "He doesn't have a first name. I wanted his father to name him." I said A)That's not a thing and B) He's gonna be named Brian.)
Oddly enough, The Fate of the Furious might be my second most favorite movie in the franchise. If you listen to the podcast, the series shifts from being about street racing and car jacking to saving the world by launching cars at things. I had the thought about the odd psychological connection that these movies have to the Transformers movies. At the end of the day, these characters really aren't people that often so much as they are cars. In the Furious movies, they change cars between jobs (except for Dom, kinda), but the style of cars represents their personality. Honestly, like Transformers, the characters just kind of ARE their cars. But moving on. The Fast and the Furious movies are known for their silliness. Fast 5 on, the movies get more and more absurd and that's really watchable. But I really enjoy watching movies critically. They aren't heroes. I have complained about this in movies before, but the team are awful people. They constantly endanger people in the name of saving the world. Even when they aren't saving the world, they are endangering people. (I know, I know. James Bond. But he's way more careful than these people are.) Cops die left and right in this franchise. Dom races in Cuba in a car that's on fire. Yeah, he tries to get the car away from the crowd that just seems to be gathering around the finish line near a flaming cannon car, but the rest of the scene is all about street racing. Street racing is always going to be morally problematic because there are people around everywhere. But I'm going to talk about the big moral quandary I have. I know that Dom has lessened culpability because of the circumstances, but Dom does some absolutely evil things in the name of saving two people. Okay, there's no right answer for Dom. The movie makes that really clear and I can at least wrap my head around that. But Dom does some straight up evil things in the name of family. On top of that, when you step out of action-movie logic, he does cross some lines that don't really explain his choice to save his son. To save his son, Dom steals a nuclear football. The idea is that Charlize Theron, who looks weirdly bored to be in this movie (as if she regrets signing up for multiple entries in this series and only just figured that out), takes control of cars (I need to get into this later) and tries zombie hoarding these cars into a Russian state official. Dom cuts into the car after threatening to burn the two men alive inside the vehicle and grabs a device that would give Charlize Theron the ability to launch a nuclear missile. I know, Dom's all about family. Say what you will about these movies, but they establish Dom's code pretty early. He will do anything for family. While the actions he has taken would make him a straight up super-villain, it's still inside his code. (By the way, the code really has some flaws with it, as illustrated by this movie.) But then he is almost captured by the team. His car is...um...tied up by the other cars. (I don't know how to explain this part.) To get out, Dom flips the other cars, pancaking them in a lot of cases. I know, The Fast and the Furious has really fast and loose rules about what people can survive. But it isn't ridiculous to think that someone would be seriously injured or killed with this action. If Dom's entire thing is family and the people trying to kill him are family, that doesn't really gel with the narrative. The movie tries backpedaling by having Dom refuse to shoot Letty. It's a cop out, but it exists.
Can I get honest for a second? This movie wins an award for me. The Fate and the Furious has the honor of having a scene that is both the most dumb and the most amazing at the same time. I told you I'd get back to the zombie horde, but it is my favorite scene in all of the Fast and Furious moments. For those unaware, Cipher (I just remembered that was her ridiculous name!) is trying to take out a police escort for a Russian ambassador. To do this, she hacks all of the cars near the route and has them auto-drive into the limo. This gets insane. In the real world, even following this goofy logic, there are only a handful of self-driving cars. Apparently not. Every other car is a self-driving vehicle. Except for the limo. You know, the thing that is infamous for being something luxurious. This isn't a world where everyone is driving a new car with the ability to be remote driven. Heck no. There are some old cars in there. Heck, there are cabs in that horde. Old cabs. I pinch my sinuses hard just thinking about this scene. It is so dumb. So dumb. All that established, it is the most entertaining scene by a lot. There are just more and more cars just flying by. There's a scene where the limo is drifting a corner and a second later, dozens and dozens of cars are just piling up trying to do the same move. Then they pass a parking structure and a whole mess of cars are just coming through four stories of a building from the sky. So many people had to die in this sequence. (Going back to Dom's culpability...) There were people in some of the cars, guys. They are just flying off of a building and getting dogpiled in cars. It's one of the most absurd sequences I've ever seen but I don't think I've giggled harder. It probably harkens back to my love of The Blues Brothers sequence with the cop cars. But there are movies that take it too far. I suppose I like this one because the entire movie isn't about pancaking cars on this level. It's a great five minutes of just sheer absurd destruction and I love it. But again...this is dumb. SOOOO dumb.
The Fate and the Furious has all kinds of moments that I can comment on. There's the prison sequence. There's the famous submarine sequence. There's the fact that there's a character named Little Nobody and that Kurt Russell becomes completely unbearable in this movie. But then there's a moment in the movie that makes me absolutely love Jason Stratham. I'm talking about the end. He's playing to his strengths with awesome choreography. I liked him in Furious 7. He's fine in that. But the fight sequence with the baby carrier is next level. He's just so charming. I didn't know he had that in him. He's talking to the toddler in the carrier while it's going on and I absolutely love it. I can't really put into words what he does that is so perfect, but he is amazing while doing it. I'm on board the Jason Stratham train, even though he shouldn't be a good guy in this franchise.
The movie is super dumb. I'm a little sad that I had to watch it again. I would rather watch the stuff from my planned pile, but I also had to admit that I had a good time with this rewatch. It's a level of liking the movie that didn't seem unbearable and that I had a good time. But I also have to say that I got it out of my system forever. I'm not excited for another movie on the horizon, let alone a new franchise. But that said, I can't ignore that my snob got silenced for a little over two hours for sheer dumbery.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.