‘Fate of the Furious’ could’ve been better

Kristofer Gossett, Ph.D, Contributing Writer

In case you’re behind on the clever numbering in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, we have arrived upon the eighth installment with this year’s “Fate of the Furious.”
This is F. Gary Gray’s first time behind the wheel of the franchise (pun intended).
He’s probably best known for directing 2014’s “Straight Outta Compton” but his resume also includes “The Italian Job” which gave me some hope that he might be able to direct some good car chase scenes in this movie.
There is a definite law of diminishing returns for movie franchises that last this long.
This is especially true for movie franchises that have to try to make things bigger and better than the last one to keep an audience’s interest.
Of course, that being said, sequels typically do well when they give the audience what they want and, in a way, “Fate of the Furious” does just that.
However, there were some missteps along the drive that prevent it from being one of the better installments in the long-running series.
In case you stopped watching movies back in 1995, the “Fast and the Furious” franchise is all about racing, cars and stunts.
It’s also about the futile pursuit of trying to get Vin Diesel to resemble something of an actor.
But I digress. As long as the franchise excels at the racing, cars and stunts, the rest of it can be as futile as it wants; people will still come see the films. And in that respect, F. Gary Gray delivered.
There are three to four very well-directed and choreographed scenes in the movie that are worth the price of admission for those die-hard fans of the series.
Everyone gets a turn here too; not just Vin Diesel.
These set pieces give Jason Statham and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plenty of screen time as well.
The issues with this movie lie with pretty much everything in between the great scenes that are scattered throughout the movie.
The dialogue is awful (as it usually is) and the plot is a bit too much of a stretch even for a franchise like this one.
The biggest sin though is the running time. There is no reason for a “Fast and the Furious” movie to ever be two hours long, and this one was even longer at two hours and 20 minutes.
There were long stretches of bad acting and dialogue that should have been cut in the final edit.
Die-hard fans of the franchise will likely be able to overlook the sins of the film, but I think anyone who isn’t familiar with the franchise might be disappointed if this was the first one they saw.
If you’re a newbie to the world of “Fast and the Furious,” I suggest watching either of the first two films of the series or the fifth, “Fast Five.”
Those were better movies, 20 minutes shorter and my review would have been a bit more kind, but overall it was a middling effort for the series.
2 ½ stars (out of 5).