Movie Review: ‘THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS’ takes to fury road for more insanity


Preston Barta // Editor

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.

Charlize Theron, right, and Vin Diesel in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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).

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.