BEIRUT: Ever since the Fast and the Furious franchise re-booted itself into a super-hero franchise without super powers, although that’s debatable, the films have worried more about their stunt and action sequences and less about their quality of story-telling.
It is true that no audience member going to watch a Fast and the Furious film is actually expecting anything more than high-octane car chases, massive explosions, and sex appeal – but how long can this keep going on for before it becomes rather dull?
The answer to that question lies in this fateful new entry in the franchise.
The Fate of the Furious being the new chapter and the first film post-Paul Walker’s death, tries to shake things up by having Dom, played by Vin Diesel and the films’ protagonist, turn on his family in order to save a son he never knew he had, with a character from one of the previous films.
It is rather interesting when the narrative of a film franchise transforms into more serialized content.
Sure, this franchise may not be the only one.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars Saga, and now the DC Cinematic Universe, among many other newcomers, are built upon this and yet the films still function as completed story arcs.
Those films begin, have a middle, and a resolution regardless of whether sequels or spin-offs will follow.
The Fast and the Furious, however relies on this “telenovela” ether.
Not even the great Charlize Theron, and the legendary Helen Mirren could lift the film’s melodramatic and eye-roll inducing dialogue.
Story beats that rely on betrayal, secrets, and OMG moments, that beg for the franchise to be titled Corazónes en Fuego (Hearts on Fire), it is quite clear that the films’ narratives are built around on question: What kind of story can we build around these three stunts?
This is quite problematic due to the limitations that it places upon the characters and their evolution.
Throughout the now franchise, none of the characters have really changed or learned anything new. They still make the same mistakes, utter the same clumsy dialogue, and on-the-nose mentioning of the film’s title or theme.
Charlize Theron’s Cipher and Jason Statham’s Deck were the only two characters with intriguing arcs.
Theron who plays her power-hungry hacker terrorist with subtlety which makes her all the more intimidating, is a breath of fresh air in this film.
On the positive end of the spectrum, the film’s strong points rest upon its skillful editing and thorough sound design.
Tight cuts that fuel the audience’s adrenaline from the car chases to the fight sequences, both Paul Rubell and Christian Wagner are brilliant.
If they were not behind the wheel, the film would have easily skidded and crashed.
The film’s soundtrack was not at all as memorable as the franchise’s previous installment, and that could be due to Fast 7’s tribute track to Paul Walker.
The film’s director F. Gary Gray, who has delivered some very memorable films like Law Abiding Citizen and the reboot of The Italian Job, directs this film as one would a video game. Focusing more on the action sequences that appear in the film sans motivation, and less on the characters, this further proves where the priorities for the franchise lie.
Although many from the production spoke of the film’s practical stunts, it did still have moments of CGI that looked a bit amateurish.
In one of the film’s big sequences, Cipher hacks into every chip-controlled car in New York City and sends them like a tidal wave towards the film’s heroes.
Grand Theft Auto games have better visual effects.
Yet, with all that in mind, fans of this series are quite die hard, and every franchise deserves a loyal fan base. There is no doubt that this franchise is far from over and will continue for many years to come.
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