By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
Preposterous and mindless are two negative connotations given to the franchise that revolves around a family and how this family uses their individual skills to save the world. However, even though those labels hold true when describing this highly successful saga, those labels cannot deny the pure entertainment value of the Fast and the Furious films. Fate of the Furious recognizes that idea and then displays an over the top, cheesy, and one-liner filled screenplay that not only remains close knit to the main themes of the franchise. But, a movie that also shows another turn for the franchise of racing heroes and their future as not only a team but as a family.
I will admit that I am a fan of this franchise’s themes and portrayals of these heroes that sometimes could be considered superheroes, even though I recognize the pure lunacy that these screenplays can present at times. This film is one that’s hard to breakdown filmically or artistically due to the heavy reliance on pop culture tropes and the underlying goal of primarily entertaining the audience. But, I am going to provide some perspective on how this film holds up from a filmmaking aspect starting with the common direction that this movie possesses. Fate of the Furious is apparently not designed to be an Academy Award contender or to provide an artistic reflection on mind-bending concepts. Fate of the Furious is composed to entertain the demographic that follows it, and the direction reflects that. F. Gary Gray, who makes his debut in this eight-film franchise, focuses on using these characters to their full potential of charisma.
The action is not the focus of the film, that’s why it plays as a plot device for these characters arcs. This idea is exemplified when watching how he uses establishing shots and panning shots to only display the environment and the cars themselves, while the rest of the film’s 136 minutes run time is filled with 180 rule shots, medium shots, close-ups, and over the shoulder shots. All of these camera views are primarily uses to focus on the characters and their dialogue between each other. These characters are completely realized due to the excellent casting of these actors over the growth of the franchise. Each actor represents these characters better than anyone else could, with Vin Diesel leading the way with an excellent performance that displays how in tune Diesel is with this character.
Vin Diesel takes second place though behind the two best performances of the film with that of Jason Statham and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Their chemistry comes off the screen so organically and naturally with every one-liner resonating and every joke driving me mad with laughter. The way Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson, the co-writers of the screenplay, humanize Jason Statham’s evil character is very well done in my opinion especially in how they use his humor and his family as a connection between him and Dom’s family.
There are an apparently significant amount of flaws in this film, but the flaws I focused on were the ones that bothered me as a fan. Starting with the pacing in the second act, which made me feel a bit dragged down at times, to the point that I found myself asking, “Where are the flying cars that were in the trailer?” The cheesiness and over the top action did become a bit too much for me at times, but when I heard the snappy dialogue from these charismatic actors, my eyes became glued to the screen once again.
Fate of the Furious is obviously not an award contender, but the primary goal that this film focuses on is overwhelmingly achieved. With amazing chemistry between the actors and ridiculous action scenes, Fate of the Furious reminds us how cinema can be made for the pure quality of entertainment. Filmmaking is art and should be used to portray cultural and philosophical messages to teach us. But, Filmmaking can also be used to bring us together on a rainy day to sit down and watch a film that transports to a place of mindless fun that connects us through humor and ridiculousness. Fate of the Furious is a movie that clearly won’t be recognized as one that inspires our creativity, but instead it will provide us the opportunity for connection with that of another person so that we like Dominic Toretto can have our family to go on adventures with.