*Spoiler Free Review*
“Dominic Toretto just went rogue!”
As The Fate of the Furious kicks off, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymoon gets cut short when a mysterious hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron) enters their life and turns everything upside down. Now, for some unknown reason, Dom has turned his back on the most important thing in his life, his family, and it’s up to his old team to take him down before he goes too far.
When a series is eight movies in (good lord), there comes a time in any series when you have to start shaking things up. Full disclosure: I used to hate the Fast and/or Furious movies. For the first few films, I couldn’t care less, but somewhere around the fourth or fifth film, the series really turned things around. Like SKYNET, the franchise became self-aware. That was the first time it shook things up. Life shook things up for the franchise the last time, but I thought Furious 7 did a remarkable job of rolling with the punches and adapting after Paul Walker’s tragic passing. Now, the series enters an exciting new chapter with The Fate of the Furious and it’s time to shake things up once again. And boy, did they!
I love the premise here, with the whole team versus Dom. It’s such a fantastic idea. This many films in, it’s tough to come up with a villain worthy of the combined efforts of this group, so why not put them up against one of their own? That’s not to say that the film’s actual villains weren’t great. Charlize Theron was wonderful as Cipher, providing a genuinely ruthless antagonist unlike any this series has ever seen, one that really will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. My only problem was, I didn’t really know why she wanted what she wanted. This film pays no mind in spelling out her motivation. I did, however, like Game of Thrones‘ Kristofer Hivju as her main henchman, Rhodes. Put this guy in everything!
Even without Dom, though, the team is still firing on all cylinders. Rodriguez was badass as usual as Letty and I liked seeing her play a slightly different dynamic than usual, hurt and confused by Dom’s betrayal. Some of my favorite moments in the movie were shared between Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the only two men in the world that have ever tracked Dom. Johnson is always entertaining. His first scene was hysterical. I love Statham as an action star as well when used correctly and this franchise certainly knows how to use him correctly. Putting the two of these guys together again and having them working on the same side this time was just genius.
Every time I see one of these films I forget just how hilarious Tyrese Gibson is as the butt-of-the-jokes Roman. He really keeps the film moving with his non-stop quips. He always plays well off of Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) as well. I love the dynamic between these three. There are a few other great appearances from Fast & Furious regulars, but I won’t ruin the fun here. The remainder of the cast is filled with some other fantastic actors. Kurt Russell is always great and brings his usual charm to the role of the mysterious head of some covert op organization known only as Mr. Nobody and Scott Eastwood was a welcome addition to the film as his junior agent that the teams calls Little Nobody. I hope we learn more about these guys in future installments. The real surprise though was how great the addition of Helen Mirren’s Magdalene Shaw is to the franchise. Her crass Cockney mum was utterly delightful. It’s actually pretty insane the level of talent these films draw now.
Speaking of insane, the action is just as batshit crazy as always, in all the right ways. I always enjoy leaving what very little I know about real-world physics at the door. It’s getting to the point where they are running out of ways to top themselves. By the time the planned tenth film rolls around, they might actually just have to go to space because it’s the only thing left they haven’t done yet. I am not a car guy, but if a film can keep me engaged and if I can follow everything that’s going on in all the racing and chase sequences, it’s doing something right. F. Gary Gray was an inspired choice as director. He did a brilliant job of picking up where James Wan left things with Furious 7 and delivering on all the fun that fans of this franchise have come to expect. I’d like to see him come back for another.
As far as the twists and turns of the story go, there were a few moments in this film where I felt like I was way ahead of the writer, Chris Morgan, but I was pleased to discover that most of the time the script zigged when I thought it would zag. There is one moment that I saw coming for like an hour-and-a-half, but when it finally happened, I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a little bit glassy-eyed. There were actually a couple of genuinely touching moments for me, which was a bit surprising because I figured we were done with all that after saying goodbye to Paul Walker in the last movie. Not to say that they don’t always try to hook you with the whole family theme that runs through most of the franchise, but this time it actually worked for me. I guess that’s the benefit of having an audience follow you for eight movies. It took a little while, but they’ve actually earned those moments by now. There are a ton of surprises in this film too. The fan service in this movie is off the charts. This franchise knows how to give the fans exactly what they want.
And now for my negatives. I already mentioned the lack of motivation for Charlize Theron’s character. That was definitely disappointing, because she was a terrific villain otherwise. Also, as usual for the franchise, some of the dialogue (mostly exposition stuff) was worthy of an eye roll or two. It was a bit too lengthy as well at 2 hours, 16 minutes. The climax, as epic and entertaining as it was, could have maybe been trimmed a bit. Finally, and this one isn’t as much the film’s fault as much as the marketing team’s, the trailers showed way too much. Just about all of the great action beats and even some of the reveals are spoiled in all the ads or TV spots.
Overall, though, most of the negatives don’t even matter. I got exactly what I wanted out of The Fate of the Furious. At this point, everyone knows what these films are all about: fun, fast cars and family. This film definitely delivers on all of those promises. If you’re expecting anything more, you’re doing it wrong. The story may be a little bit thin at times, but it’s never boring. I saw it in a packed house in a theater that serves alcohol. I don’t even drink, but it was a blast, because that crowd was into this movie, cheering and laughing at all the right action beats and one-liners. If you’re a fan of the franchise or just looking for a big dumb action movie to watch while you shove popcorn into your face, this is definitely a great couple of hours spent at the cinema.
The Fate of the Furious is in theaters now. Have you seen the film yet? If so, what did you think? Are you a fan of the franchise? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
6 Theater-Worthy Movies To Look Forward To In April
March has ended and Spring has begun which means we’re already in the summer movie season. The biggest hits of last month both financially and critically were Beauty and the Beast, Kong: Skull Island, and Logan. April offers us a smaller and more intimate slate of films, giving us a well-deserved breath of fresh air from last month’s loaded offerings. This month’s films will put many of our favorite stars in roles that are both unique and diverse, which might surprise you.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect to come out this month in chronological order. Hit Next to continue!
Going In Style
It has been a while since we’ve gotten a solid heist film and Going In Style will hopefully change that with its unique spin on a classic genre. The main trio in the film consists of legendary actors Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alin Arkin who plan to rob a bank after their pensions are lost. The film is directed by Zach Braff, best known for his work on Scrubs. Still need more convincing? The script was written by Theodore Melfi who previously wrote and directed St. Vincent, one of the most underrated comedies of this decade. Beyond that, he also wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures. By the looks of the trailer, Going In Style looks to be a solid crowd pleasure that looks to be Point Break by the way of The Bucket List.
- Going In Style hits theaters on April 7th
- Directed by: Zach Braff
- Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, and Joey King
Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
Probably the most unique and absurd film to come out this year, Colossal offers viewers a different spin on the classic Kaiju narrative. Instead of focusing on the humans dealing with the impacts of the monster, the film delves into the mind of someone who is controlling the Kaiju. Fusing the horrific with the comedic is nothing different for director Nacho Vigalondo, who previously directed Timecrimes, one of the most seminal films in the time-travel genre, as well as segments in The ABCs of Death and V/H/S: Viral. Furthermore, the film is being scored by Bear McCreary, who is best known for writing the music for The Walking Dead and last year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, which had a vastly underrated and chilling score. Debuting last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and this year at the Sundance Film Festival, the film is being lauded by critics for its unique and strange approach to a familiar genre, use of a strong female character, and how it deals with addiction and one’s personal demons.
- Colossal hits theaters on April 7th
- Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
- Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Simon Pegg, and Tim Blake Nelson.
Gloria is an out-of-work party girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
The Lost City of Z
Premiering at last year’s New York Film Festival, The Lost City of Z has gotten stellar reviews from critics due to its use of traditional storytelling, powerful visuals, and engrossing stories. This comes as no surprise as the film is directed by James Gray, one of the most underrated and unique voices in filmmaking at the moment. He previously directed dramas such as We Own The Night and The Immigrant, which both showcased his slow, methodical, and traditional style. A further vote of confidence comes from Amazon Studios, which obtained the U.S rights to the film. Beyond, the film has an impressive and well-rounded cast, with highlights including Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland. While all eyes may shine on our newest Spider-man, we shouldn’t ignore the strides Pattinson has been making as an actor. Long gone are the days of Twilight, as the actor has matured and provided great roles in The Rover and Maps to the Stars. What’s most interesting is the execution of the film, which boasts both drama and adventure. Instead of opting to go the larger than life route, Gray has chosen to focus on the characters and make them serve the story, not the other way around.
- The Lost City of Z hits theaters on April 14th
- Directed by: James Gray
- Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, and Ian McDiarmid
At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, which views indigenous populations as savages, the determined Fawcett, supported by his devoted wife, son, and aide-de-camp, returns to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case.
- The Fate of the Furious hits theaters on April 14th
- Directed by: F. Gary Gray
- Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges (Ludacris), and Kurt Russell
Now that Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon, Brian and Mia have retired from the game, and the rest of the crew has been exonerated, the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman seduces Dom back into a world of crime that he can’t seem to escape, the crew will face trials that will test them as never before.
A Marvel combination unlike any other, Gifted is directed by Marc Webb and stars Chris Evans. If you don’t remember, Webb’s debut was the critically acclaimed romantic-comedy 500 Days of Summer. After his successful debut, Webb was roped in to direct Sony’s Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. After mixed reception both it and its sequel, the character ended up in the MCU and Webb has now returned to his roots in the indie genre. We’re excited to see Webb going back to what he does best and we’re expecting a solid performance from Chris Evans, who has been spending most of his time lately playing Captain America. As much as we adore Steve Rogers, Evans’ performances have become a known quantity, with exceptions being his role in Snowpiercer. While the premise of the film sounds pretty generic, its stellar cast will likely build it up more and add more levity to it.
- Gifted hits theaters on April 21st
- Directed by: Marc Webb
- Starring: Chris Evans, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, and Mckenna Grace
Frank Adler is a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the 7-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother, Evelyn, whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary.
Our final film for this month is the Ben Wheatley-directed Free Fire, a film that boasts an interesting premise and an even more talented cast. Wheatley has previously directed a segment in The ABCs of Death and last year’s highly-acclaimed dystopian thriller High-Rise (which if you haven’t seen, do yourself a favor and check it out). Premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the film was acquired by A24, a known leader in the indie film industry. Since its premiere late last fall, the film has received great reviews from critics who praised its visuals, action sequences, and tremendous cast. We’re mostly excited to see the action play out but we would be lying if we weren’t excited for Sharlto Copley’s performance in the film. One of the most absurd and genre-friendly stars of our time, Copley always manages to turn in a great performance, even if the film is a dud (we’re looking at you Oldboy).
- Free Fire hits theaters on April 21st
- Directed by: Ben Wheatley
- Starring: Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy
Justine brokers a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen and a gang led by Vernon and Ord, who intend to sell them a stash of guns. But when shots fire during the handover, complete pandemonium ensues, with everyone at the scene suddenly thrust into a heart-stopping game of survival.
What are the movies that will get you to the theater this month? Let us know in the comments!