By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
Rent or buy The Fate of the Furious here.
WHAT'S THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS ABOUT?
The government-sanctioned team of street-racing thieves and mercenaries is thrown into turmoil when their leader, Dom, appears to throw in his lot with a villainess.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: C+)
The Fast and the Furious is a franchise based on big, dumb fun that grew more fun the bigger and dumber it got. The tropes of the series, including fast cars, brutal fistfights, eye-rollingly over-the-top stunts, soap opera plot twists, infectious cast chemistry, and familial loyalty kept the series critic-proof through Fast Five, Fast and Furious 6, and Furious Seven. Now, after the emotional high of the last film and its farewell to Paul Walker, the series is headed downhill. What was once fresh is now starting to stale; it's still fun, but one can see that it's about time to wrap things up.
Vin Diesel brings surprising emotion to the film's melodrama and Charlize Theron makes for a cold and calculating villain. The brutal rivalry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham takes a ridiculous turn that almost works because they're having so much fun. Most of the other actors are underused (especially Kurt Russell), the bloated story abandons all logic, character motivations change on a whim, and too many of the jokes fall flat. Still, there's some exciting action, unique stunts, a few hilarious moments, and a delightful cameo that put a smile on my face. In spite of myself I'm curious to see what happens in the 9th and final installment. Fans won't want to miss The Fate of the Furious, but if you've avoided the series so far there's no reason to jump aboard now.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
The Fate of the Furious is rated PG-13. There are numerous fistfights, gunfights, and vehicular mayhem with persons dying in the process. A man's neck is broken off-screen by a kick. An innocent person is shot in the presence of a child. Women in revealing clothing gyrate around racing cars and a woman wearing a thong under her short skirt starts a race. A husband and wife begin to make love; we see them kissing and disrobing, then see them in bed after implied sex. A man makes an innuendo about his anatomy shrinking in the cold. There are numerous moderate profanities and one use of the f-word.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Do whatever you can to protect your family and friends. Sometimes people are different than they seem; once we understand their experience and motivations we may see them differently.
Kurt Russell is underused in The Fate of the Furious, so check him out as a tough-as-nails Colonel in the sci-fi action flick Stargate! Rent or buy it here.