The Foregone Fate of the Fast and Furious Franchise
Thanks to GU Filmhouse Glenelg – Bec sent Michael to see the latest instalment of Fast and Furious.
In the early scenes of the Fate of the Furious, the ever-bemused Kurt Russell, in the role of the omniscient government official Mr Nobody, advises his protege, ‘know your audience’. This adage seems to capture the essence of the Fast and Furious series, now in its eighth instalment, with a steady formula of likeable characters and big-hitting action.
This time around, Vin Diesel’s indomitable character, Dominic Toretto, has betrayed the group and taken up with the rogue hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron). The betrayal, and the reason for it, isn’t immediately apparent, and Dom’s crew are left floundering without him.
The gap he leaves is filled by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who has the on-screen ability of exuding charisma with a single raised eyebrow. He’s joined by Jason Statham, who growls his way through the action, and the verbal sparring between them both gives light relief to the opposing drama.
In the background, the long-running supporting cast, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, fill in titbits of plot summary and slather on cheesy one-liners (someone’s got to do it). Michelle Rodriguez, who is perhaps a little too quiet this time for my liking, still delivers the strong, earthy performance that levels out the unfortunate abundance of scantily clad extras, who seem prone to draping themselves uncomfortably over car bonnets.
This movie delivers on what is expected from the series – the cars, and the outlandish action set-pieces that involve them. However, these aspects have ballooned since the 2001 original, which featured a few street-racers thieving on the side. There are still a few reminders of that beginning, with an opening scene involving a mano a mano race, and, of course, the ubiquitous tank of NOS (booster fuel) that sits beside Dom wherever he drives.
Now though, the stakes have reached the international stage, and the genre appears closer to the likes of Mission Impossible and the bombastic Triple X. Their travels take them to every corner of the globe, and the action is gloriously overblown at times. A scene involving a jail-break, and later, a chase through New York, are stand-outs – both improbable, but fun and surprising to watch. The improbability of these scenes are perhaps half the fun, yet when many of the characters find themselves in charge of events that could mean world-wide devastation, it raises the question: are street-racers really the right people for the job?
In the end, the adrenaline pumping action does its job of simulating high speed travel in a super-car – a feeling that has always been the aim of the franchise, since the first movie placed the audience behind the wheel of slick-looking Skylines, Evolutions, and awesome muscle cars. It is a dangerous and addictive feeling that goes with me as I drive away from the cinema. Halting at a red light, I consider the car beside me and grip the steering wheel, the whites of my knuckles showing. The light goes green.
‘Are we going to stop for milk?’ My wife suddenly asks from the passenger seat, and I sigh and ease our Toyota Tarago into traffic.
My advice? Catch the bus home.
The Fate of the Furious – Rated M (action violence and course language)
18/04/2017 / Kit Densley