F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious is another high testosterone, stylish entry in the monstrous franchise, that once again ups the ante in its attempt to throw all the laws of physics, and much of the laws of logic, out the window. The Fast and Furious Franchises has gone through one of the most fascinating evolutions in mainstream cinematic history, starting as a small "point break" knockoff about fast cars, that slowly evolved into what can only be described as a global espionage thriller where street racers who can drive really fast are the best hope for humanity against elitely trained cyber terrorists. The Fate and the Furious finds Dominic Toretto being enthralled into a state of betrayal by a mysterious new enemy, played to perfection by Charlize Theron, who forces Dominik to go against the very thing he treasures the most: Family. The Fate of the Furious has reached such levels of over-indulgent heroism that it at times feels as much of a superhero movie as it does a spy thriller, with one example being how the The Rock is essentially The Incredible Hulk in this franchise, dispensing those in his way with his masculine-dripping, brute strength. Dominic Toretto on the other hand, his decree of family and general presence, particularly in the opening sequence in Cuba, has reached a borderline prophetic/ supernatural levels, a character who carries an aura about himself throughout the film, as if he is a force of nature who simply can't be stopped. Of course, what makes The Fate of the Furious work, much like many of the franchises recent efforts, is the continued chemistry shared by Dom's team, with the various characters all slotting into their roles, and delivering more so than not what fans of the franchise would expect - loud, dumb, fun. That being said, the introduction of Scott Eastwood into the mix, his infusion into the team, simply doesn't work, as he lacks charisma, feeling simply like a less-Paul Walker substitute that I'm not sure they should continue to use. While The Fate of the Furious doesn't reach the same heights as its recent predecessors, it's still a fun entry in the franchise, with Charlize Theron's character being a gleefully diabolical entry in this franchise, regardless of the conceit of how she gets Dominik to betray his team being a tad flimsy from the onset. Charlize Theron's Cypher character is the thematic enemy to Dominik Toretto's whole way of life, a character who deconstructs the idea of family throughout the film, a snake who believes any empathy to others is merely a deep-rooted, evolutionary-rooted survival instinct, a villain who wishes for Dominik to live his who life "free" of the burden of family. While the pacing of The Fate of the Furious isn't as streamlined as previous efforts, getting bogged down a bit in the middle by the character's struggles to accept that Dominik is now the enemy, The Fate of the Furious still manages to deliver with a few highly entertaining action set pieces, as well as a finale that finds (spoiler alert) Jason Statham decimate some baddies with fisticufffs while holding a baby! For all the film's pacing issues, The Fate of the Furious' biggest problem comes from F Gray Gary's direction, which is repetitive and lacks imagination at times, overusing slow motion to the point of agitation, which only stalls the film's action sequences from being as visceral and chaotic as they could have been. I'm sure most film critics will simply scoff at this brain dead franchise, but they miss the point, as The Fate and Furious knows its audience and delivers simple yet visceral thrills, relying heavily on its relative self-awareness and the chemistry of its characters to create another enjoyable film in the franchise, regardless of some of its undeniable flaws.
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