There's a funny moment from South Park involving Kyle Broflovski's reaction to The Passion of the Christ. He cringes and holds his head, averting his eyes from the violence done to Jim Caviezel's Jesus. He winces and hunches. Eventually, overcome by the imagery on the screen, he vomits on himself, emotionally and physically spent.
This is basically how I felt watching The Fate of the Furious. I hope the Regal Majestic crew didn't mind the mess.
A seemingly unending* assault on the senses, The Fate of the Furious is the eighth entry in a series that started off as a stupid-but-small flick about undercover cops and illegal street racing crews but has grown into an idiotic-and-enormous opus involving nuclear submarines and tanks. Mission creep is real, y'all.
We open on Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who are enjoying their honeymoon in Cuba and the local drag racing scene (spoiler: it's surprisingly robust, given that the average car in Cuba is approximately 48 years old and held together with spit and fishing wire smuggled in from a failed Eastern European state 20 years ago). Dom is forced to race a "Cuban mile"—which, judging by the haphazard way the film is edited and given the scene's unbearable length, is either several miles or the cars in question were traveling at an average of 17 mph—for his family's honor or some such and there are splosions and crashes and stuff.
"Fun," in other words. So much fun.
After the race Dom is propositioned by Cypher (Charlize Theron) and seemingly forced into joining her team of international terrorist-hackers. When Dom and his team—joined by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson)—go on a mission in Germany to steal an illegal** EMP, Dom betrays them, Luke is arrested, and everything's in disarray.
Needless to say, the rest of the movie involves trying to figure out why Dom has turned traitor and also blowing up cars and also nuclear terrorism and also "choice theory" and also family. Family, man. It's all about family. Cypher doesn't respect families—she thinks it's an easily jettisoned evolutionary adaptation—which is a clear indication that she is bad. But Dom and Luke and Deckard (Jason Statham), the British criminal brought on board to help the rest of the Furious Team (multiple actors, none of whom is particularly interesting), all believe in family and will do whatever it takes to save their families so they are good. There's also something about pending nuclear apocalypse but, really, what's horrifying radioactive death when family is on the line?
The Fate of the Furious is FUN, you guys, we all had so much FUN in the theater. Imax-sized FUN. There's so much FUN in this movie I didn't quite know what to do with myself; I couldn't believe I was stopping to take notes sometimes and distracting myself from the FUN on the screen. Anyone who doesn't like plotless, globe-trotting lunacy stitched together by incompetently shot action scenes that give viewers no sense of spatial awareness or movement just really hates FUN, you know?
Or not. The only time I truly felt engaged by The Fate of the Furious was when Statham was onscreen, especially when he and Johnson squared off. I could watch 90 minutes of those two simply hurling invective at each other, and Statham seems to be the only person in the series capable of performing actual physical activity—you know, punching and kicking and flipping and stuff. Even if the filmmakers decided that an image of him, say, running on the side of a wall during a jailbreak needed to be broken up into about four different shots to convey the action.
This movie will gross nearly $2 billion.
*IMDB "reported" the flick was 160 minutes long, but this is inaccurate. The actual running time: two hours and twenty minutes or so, I think. It felt much longer. As if I had entered a dimension where time had no meaning and spatial reasoning had lost all logic.
**I guess it's illegal? It wasn't really clear to me who has developed this weapon or why or to what use it will be put. The Carvengers just smash up what seems to be an enormous and government-sanctioned warehouse and take the device, because reasons. There was some mention of "The Liberation Front" and "Class 4 WMD," both of which are specific enough to serve as plot signifiers but generic enough to be meaningless. Silly me, ruining all the fun by pointing out all of this nonsensical horseshit.