12A – 136mins – 2017
ROGUE DOM: A CAR WARS STORY
Not trusting British audiences with an iota of common sense, the nut-jobs at Universal Pictures reverted the title of this seventh (Vin) Diesel-fuelled, car-loving action sequel back to the boring, uninspired, numerically denominated handle you read above, missing out on the witty promotion opportunity open to overseas markets where the blockbuster retains its original and superior appellation: The Fate of the Furious. F8, geddit?!
Fast Five and Furious 7 were likewise simplified for our apparently tiny Commonwealth minds, but Fate frustrates me most because the title’s nifty deviation from the F&F franchise trend ties in heavily with the newest film’s underlying theme: the word is uttered frequently as a neat little nod to the title, which now has zero relevance on English shores.
With Brian and Mia’s fate decided following Paul Walker’s tragic death (can you believe that was 2013?!), street-racing muscle man Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his new wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are enjoying some much-needed downtime on their tropical honeymoon, until a surprise visit from a mysterious stranger known only as Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray his family and join her terrorist cell. Can Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the team regroup in order to take down Cipher and rescue Dom from a dark path?
With a quarter of a billion-dollar budget, a new director behind the wheel in the shape of Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gary and an ever-ballooning ensemble cast, Fate had a great weight of responsibility under its hood, not only in the wake of Walker’s passing, but also following Furious 7’s runaway success. Behind The Force Awakens and Jurassic World it was the third highest grossing film of 2015, and to-this-day the sixth biggest money-maker of all time!
So, does Fate hold its own or fall short? In my personal opinion, it is a stratospheric success and my favourite from the franchise since 2011’s rejuvenating, heist-heavy Fast Five. Sure it’s bombastic nonsense, but its shamelessly audacious and a whole heap of fun. From an engine-burning opening drag race in the sand to a race across the Russian ice chased by a submarine and nuclear missiles, via an NYC auto-driven motorcade pile-up, this is an exciting, surprising action thriller full of humour and heart.
I could tut at the overcrowded cast competing for screen time (Kurt Russell, Luke Evans, Jason Statham, Helen “Devil’s bumhole!” Mirren – these aren’t no-name Z-listers), but when the eighth film in a sixteen-year-old series about law-dodging petrol-heads manages to make me laugh, cry, cheer and gasp in both shock and awe over the fastest 2 hours and 15 minutes I’ve sat through in a long time, then it’s hard to find much to fault in its souped-up schematics.
CR@B’s Claw Score: