I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Rated PG-13, 136 minutes.
While most franchises progressively run down to fumes with each sequel, the FAST & FURIOUS series still has gas left in its tank after eight films, with even more to burn. It has proven to be the rare exception where its latest films have shifted audiences’ expectations and made up for its stupidity with explosive action.
Never mind that the movies don’t obey the laws of physics or produce scenes of drama that are nothing short of laughable, the high-octane stunts, lovable characters and memorable one-liners are what we line up for.
What started with a laser-beam focus on fast cars and hot babes took an unexpected turn as a bank heist thriller, in a commercially and critically successful move with FAST FIVE. Since then, the motley crew of ex-cons (Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Co.) has worked with the Diplomatic Security Service (led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Luke Hobbs) and most recently the U.S. Government (led by Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody).
With THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, the outlaws are doing more special-ops missions. However, this time, our bald-headed action hero, Dom (Diesel), is blackmailed into being the latest recruit for cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron sporting Angelina Jolie’s wig from GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS). He betrays his lead-footed family and leads them on a wild goose chase around the globe, from Berlin to New York City to the ice-covered Russia.
As you’ve probably gathered through the years and the hundred times Diesel has muttered the words, Dom is all about “family.” He’ll take a bullet for each and every member and will gather them together at the end of each movie for a barbecue feast just to prove his undying love. So the notion of him turning on what makes him tick puts this franchise on the necessary track to keep its wheels from spinning. As dazzling as the massive action set pieces are, it’s nice when these films make somewhat of an effort to be new.
The true brains of FAST & FURIOUS series, however, mostly lie on the streets. It’s shocking how much thought the filmmakers put into the action sequences. Whether the characters are cruising the streets of the Big Apple with hundreds of self-driven cars in tow (they aptly call them “zombie cars”) or are riding on thin ice while a submarine plows through their course, this film has an energy that’s only comparable to a feral feline hyped up on catnip. There’s so much fun to be had that no matter how many times Dom cheats death by ducking and rolling out of high-speed cars, the smirk of delight the film paints on your face forgives all.
If you can ignore the mad case of eye-rolls it gives you, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS is an adrenaline-fueled popcorn movie that doesn’t disappoint. Director F. Gary Gray (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) drives the franchise well, and for all I care, he can take it for a spin anytime.
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS opens nationwide tomorrow (4/14).