Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Fate of the Furious: Good God These Movies Are Getting Worse-- It's Fantastic!

Fire up the grill.  Make a steak.  Say something sexist to your wife.  Look up pictures of boobs.  Slap a waitress on the ass.  Grab a 6-er of Monster.  And enjoy the next installment of the most manly movie franchise in history. Who knew that a shitty little Point Break ripoff would turn into such a bare knuckle dynasty of fast cars, punching people, and gratuitous shots of barely legal asses.  There has never been a "smart" Fast and Furious movie, but they sure know how to entertain. Furious 7 is the closes they've come to making something that's equally ridiculous, but still made some sense. This concept is entirely lost on the Man-Soap-Opera that is The Fate of the Furious. A friend of mine once compared the franchise to a soap opera and looking at the type of films these movies are, one would think he was out of his mind. But when you break down the narrative from films 5-8 (and I use the term 'narrative' very loosely), it IS a soap opera. There's the girl who's lost her memory. The guy who is in love with the girl who lost her memory, but finds love in the arms of another woman. There's bad guys trying to sabotage the group who then become good guys... or, if not good guys, then allies. There's good guys turning their backs on families, families finding out about jilted lovers and bleak pasts. In between all of the balls-out mayhem of the films-- are the plots of cheap romance novels.

Let me catch you up to speed here-- Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is a free man and living in Cuba with his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who we thought was dead for two movies but really just had her memory wiped and had to re-fall in love with Dom again in the last movie (a la 50 First Dates with guns). Now they're in love. Except, there's this cyber terrorist named Cypher (Charlize Theron) who pulls Dom away from Letty with some sort of blackmail (we'll get there) she has against him and he turns on his "family" (being his team). He betrays his team and second in command Hobbs (The Rock), who used to be against the team a few movies back. This sends Hobbs to jail and Dom running with some baddies intent on...  uh... world domination? I don't actually know. So, instead of his team just sitting back and realizing Dom probably has ulterior motives and let him do his thing... they are all immediately convinced he's turned on them and go after him. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), some government spook from the last movie, enlists the help of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the psycho-villain from the previous movie, to join the team and help them take down Toretto. What I've just listed here is probably the first half hour of a two and a half hour film. It's insane.

What plays out next is a series of car chases, people getting punched, grappling hooks, explosions, car crashes, bad one-liners, Tyrese Gibson having nothing to do but yell lines, a weird love triangle, a submarine, Jason Statham killing people next to his partner-- an actual baby, and The Rock leaping out of a truck and physically altering the direction of a nuclear missile with his bare fucking hands. Oh-- and MORE soap opera drama. It's probably the most non-sensical, moronic, and headache inducing film I've ever seen and I genuinely loved every second of it. It's like they know they've done everything they can with the franchise that they legitimately don't give a shit anymore. They'll do things like make a submarine travel through the frozen tundra, chasing down sports cars just because they can.

They're also (probably unintentionally) parodying the action genre. Like, legitimately the movie opens when Toretto's cousin (some weird skinny, shrimpy dude in Cuba) has to race some big-shot street racer and Toretto offers up his car to the winner. His cousin, in his high-pitched, street-rat way actually says, "Don't do it, Toretto. He's got the biggest, fastest car in all a' Cuba." Like, c'mon!!! Then, after the race (which, by the way, isn't a quarter-mile anymore, but a "Cuban mile"), we cut to a scene with The Rock and one of his superiors telling him about a job and using phrases like "you got no protection on this one. If you fail, we can't get your back. You're all alone out there, Hobbs." It's amazing. There's plot holes galore and some of the worst banter you'll ever hear in a movie. Dom threatens a crony on Cypher's team... the crony goes, "What'd you just say?"... Dom begins his verbal smack down with "If I have to repeat it again..." (I'm thinking it's going to be something badass like 'it'll be the last thing you ever hear, dick-bitch'), but finishes it with "'ll be to a corpse." Oh GOD! This happens several times. I love The Rock and I REALLY love Statham, but their back and forths are awkward as hell. Hearing The Rock stretch out the word 'sum-bitch' is laugh-worthy. And Vin Diesel is probably one of the grossest human beings on the planet. There were actual moments where I couldn't understand a thing coming out of his mouth. But there is a moment at the end of the movie where he smiles, and this uncomfortable, guttural noise emanates from his mouth that made me gag a little bit.

The only thing about the movie that I genuinely had a problem with, though, is that there is this constant build-up in the first part of the movie of a brutal, savage, balls-out fight supposed to happen between The Rock and Statham... that never actually happens.  They end up becoming besties.  This is the main reason we went to see the movie. Fast Five posed the question of who would win in a fight between Diesel and The Rock... Furious 7 gave us The Rock against Statham, but it wasn't a good ole' fist fight, it was a little cheapened with weapons and the fact that The Rock had to save his female partner. We wanted the re-match. We wanted Rocky to get bloody revenge on Drago in the most Viking of ways. But it never happens, and it's a bit of a let-down. However, the filmmakers make up for this by giving us a glimpse into a movie we'd all love to watch more than any Fast and Furious film-- Jason Statham being forced to partner up with a baby. In between beating people mercilessly, and shooting people in the face, he has to stop and make sure the baby is still okay, while making coo-ing noises and goo goo sounds.  There's even a scene where he kills a guy, sniffs, asks the baby if that was him or the dead guy, sniffs again, and says "dead guy." That's the spinoff I want right there.

Other than that, you know exactly what you're getting into when going to a Fast and Furious movie. It's insane how the franchise has lasted this long and there's still (at least) two more movies coming our way. There's no rational reason why Charlize Theron agreed to do this film, but I'm glad she did. Shit, they managed to even get Helen Mirren... Helen fucking Mirren... to do a cameo in the film. The movie is on its way to make a gazillion dollars and it has some of the most clout in Hollywood right now not linked to a comic book. I will continue to see these movies until they are finished... or until The Rock and Statham are no longer attached. If you've liked even one of the previous films, this one will continue to be right up your alley. (Also... there's a couple of spoilers below for those who have already seen it.)


****************************SPOILERS BELOW*****************************

Okay, one other problem I have with these movies is that they REFUSE to kill the main bad guys. Fast Five we got The Rock... he ends up becoming part of the team. Fast 6 we got Luke Evans, who isn't killed, but hospitalized... and in this movie ends up becoming part of the team. Furious 7 we have Statham, the unrelenting KILLER is the bad guy... doesn't die... ends up murdering a significant character... and becomes part of the team. Now, Charlize gets away (right after giving the head-shakingly bad line "there's one fatal flaw in your plan...").  Either she's coming back in the next movie to finish out her plan, or, more likely, due to the track record of the franchise... she's going to be on the team next. Tell me why a movie like this... with villains who dgaf harder than most superhero movies... can't die??? I guess that would require some depth in the writing (or maybe not killing them gives the writing depth). Who the hell knows.