Vroom, vroom go cars, tanks and subs in The Fate of the Furious

Crash boom bang bang muscles titties fast fire crash bang!

There are now eight films in the Fast and the Furious series, spanning 16 years of drama. The latest installment, The Fate of the Furious, is, by far… the first one I have seen. Watching this video that summarized the first seven films proved enormously helpful. I’m up to speed, so to speak.

The Fate of the Furious opens on the honeymoon of Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez). Letty apparently died once and then came back to life again somewhere in the middle. Brian (Paul Walker) died in real life, yet his memory overshadows F8 in touching and reverent ways. Dom was a criminal I guess but now he’s an empirically great man, and so on.

We begin with a dangerous and (what I thought was) implausible street race through Cuba. In fact, the opening race is the most plausible event in the entire film. The plot begins when the crew is tasked with stealing a big metal object unofficially for the US government, aka, send in the Rock! Only the Rock can do it!

Meanwhile, a cyber-villain named Cipher (Charlize Theron) blackmails Dom into betraying his team—and just like Juggalos, they’re not just a team but also family. This is the flimsy scaffolding of the movie: Cipher pits the team against Dom, who has seemingly “gone rogue,” but of course he hasn’t really. There’s no suspense on this point because we can see the whole picture from every angle as it’s playing out. Never does the audience think Dom could have gone rogue, and the team doesn’t believe it either, but trudge through this plot anyway they must.

Resistance is futile.
Resistance is futile.

We Need to Talk About Charlize Theron’s Hair: Not since Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds has a movie about cars featured such egregiously fake dreadlocks. No pretty woman would do this to herself willingly. She looks like the borg. Theron as Cipher is classic neutral Evil. Remember the villain she played in Prometheus? She’s hitting the same notes here. She will kill a baby in broad daylight, and I respect that, but the limits of PG-13 necessarily constrain her from fulfilling her true potential.

Oh my god, how does this PG-13 franchise sleep at night? Are we supposed to believe that cars can barrel through flower shops in New York City, fall from buildings in huge fiery pileups, men can be shot in the chest off of motorcycles at high speeds and that no one is getting killed from this? It doesn’t work for me. If I don’t get to see a villain shot in the head at least once, I can’t come.

The crowd I saw this movie with at MJR Grand in Troy, Michigan didn’t seem to have all their marbles. They clapped sporadically throughout various plot points but failed to grasp the film’s more subtle moments. For example, when Deckard delivers the film’s greatest line: “These assholes aint going to kill themselves”—crickets.

Why am I attempting scholarship on this fireball of twisted metal? No one thinks these are good movies. They are the Sharknado of big budget action. The question becomes, “Did this film numb your senses enough to forget the troubles of your life for 2 hours and 19 minutes?” Sort of!

Jason Statham and The Rock would like some privacy.
Jason Statham and The Rock would like some privacy.

Lastly: I knew machismo and muscles were a thing in these films, but I didn’t realize they were THAT much of a thing. Said my companion during the film’s 45-minute long fifth act: “Is that a submarine rising out of the water or Vin Diesel’s dick?”

There’s a truly erotic rivalry at play between Hobbs (Dwane Johnson) and Deckard (Jason Statham) centering on who would win in hand to hand combat. This is the most precious and fragile belief that exists in men, and a good woman knows that you don’t fuck with it: If your boyfriend says he can beat up your ex-boyfriend, you nod and agree, however patently untrue. That Jason Statham thinks he can best The Rock in a fight without weapons is silly, of course, but why does The Rock get so angry at the provocation if not out of a murky and unrealized fear of his own feelings? My favorite scene involves the two of them breaking out of prison cells and inciting a well-orchestrated, highly unlikely prison riot. The two of them murder men and break through brick and glass just to be nearer to each other, ostensibly for the chance to “fight” (aka, kiss, touch, nuzzle). And yet, just at the moment when their lips touch, the authorities step in and separate them. Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?

★★1/2

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