movietime at the cinemark: the fate of the furious

(Movie Week concludes, for now, with the second of the catch-up reviews.  We’re now ready to go to some more movies: bring on a carefully chosen selection of summer blockbusters and also a new actor-driven caper movie that my movie going companion is very interested in.)

It’s a well known fact that the world is divided into two groups of people: those who think the Fast and Furious movies are a ton of fun, and those who think they are dumb,  way over the top, or both.  What is less well known is that those two groups overlap.  I am in the intersection, so sue me.

The Fate of the Furious, oh flick of the dubiously clever title, is the eighth outing in the series following street racer Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his chosen family as they embark on a wildly unlikely series of adventures that usually involve cars that go very fast. This one is notable for being the first film in the series produced after the death of actor Paul Walker, who played Dom’s partner, best friend, and eventually brother in law, Brian.  That character is missed, but life goes on, and so do these movies. The action never stops until it goes too far, as usual.  All is well, and this movie is just fine if you like this kind of thing.

In case you want to be surprised by a late viewing of Fate (not that it’s very surprising), click to read a paragraph that really belongs above the cut (except that it’s spoilery), and the usual random notes.

The later Fast and Furious movies all follow the same basic structure: they begin with a street race or car chase, end with a bang-up action sequence that usually goes too far, and offer a denouement in the form of a family meal.  It’s as comforting as (very fast paced) chocolate chip pancakes and offers little in the form of surprises except in the matter of interesting details.  In Fate, the opening racing scene is a street race in Havana (and welcome back Havana, that ever- fascinating film location) that is the best thing in the film.  You get the warm family thing, the read cars on real roads thing, the Dom crinkles his eyes at somebody and makes him into a good guy thing.  And the final action sequence is a ghastly “Russian submarine in the frozen North” extravaganza.

People who know me are aghast to read that last sentence.  Wait, am I not the person who loves all submarine sequences, and thinks any time is good time for a submarine to break through the Arctic ice in a movie? (Cough. Firefox. Cough.)  Well, Fate of the Furious is the movie that has made me hate a submarine-based action sequence.  I have a pretty well developed ability to voluntarily suspend disbelief, but I also know enough about good submarine stories to really dislike a bad one.  Bad submarine behavior, bad torpedo behavior, bad ice and cold water survival behavior.  Sorry, everybody would be dead halfway through this one no matter how you wrote it.

On the other hand, the Jason Statham character has a fight sequence inside an aircraft in flight, with a gun in one hand and a humorous baby in a car seat in the other and that’s a extremely fun.  We are strongly in favor of the Jason Statham airplane/baby fight.  (Don’t worry, nothing bad happens to the baby.  It is Dom’s baby and therefore is genetically programmed to be an action movie hero before it can walk.)

And watch out for Jason Statham’s mom, played by a famous actress known to dabble in the genre.

Yes, Dom “goes rogue” but it is all a bluff.  Don’t worry that anything substantial will has changed when the movie ends.

And finally, I still maintain that Hobbs is a low level super (mildly super strong, moderately indestructible, not terribly bright), and that his character makes perfect sense when viewed through that lens.  Fast and Furious fans: try it and see.

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