Entertainment & Life

Action engines rev hot in latest ‘Furious’ film

Vin Diesel and Charlize Theron star in “The Fate of the Furious.”
Vin Diesel and Charlize Theron star in “The Fate of the Furious.” Universal Pictures

There’s a moment in “The Fate of the Furious” where the film’s villain, Cipher (Charlize Theron), tells her computer geek henchmen to “make it rain.” In any other movie, that would be anything from a light April shower to a barrage of bullets.

The latest installment of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise is anything but typical. The movies have grown from a simple tale of street racers into battle royale with more carnage than a weekend at a Transformers bonding retreat. The characters have more foreign locations on their passports than James Bond. And the villains never do anything simple.

The “rain” Cipher has called for is made up of automobiles that have had their computer systems hacked and are sent flying out of a New York parking garage. They land in a heap that looks like a Hot Wheels pile made by the child of a giant.

That’s only a sampling of the action sequences that not only defy logic but at times defy the laws of physics. But, the movies have never been about being logical. It’s all about speed, whether it be the way the group drives their cars or the way they switch emotions when they think one of their own has gone rogue.

After the obligatory street race, this one staged in Cuba, the movie settles into what eventually plays out into an unnecessarily complicated plot. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon. That ends when Dom is forced to go to work for Cipher.

The movie links together a high-speed chase in New York, a massive prison break, a shootout on an airplane, a fight in a Russian stronghold and a battle with a submarine with a multi-layered plot. All you really need to know is that Cipher is so evil she would threaten a child as long as it helped her get her way.

What makes this addition to the franchise fun is that the gas and one-liners flow with the same intensity. That’s particularly the case with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard (Jason Statham), who bicker like an old married couple (if that married couple wanted to drive each other’s face into a wall).

There’s also some banter from Tyrese Gibson, who plays Roman, that is so funny he continues to make a case for a spinoff film from the franchise.

These actors understand that when this film shifts into serious mode, it slows the story to a crawl. It falls to Theron to deliver most of the serious dialogue in the film, and while she’s good at being bad, the movie only gets back up to speed once the action resumes.

The film’s biggest flaw is the running time of more than two hours and 20 minutes. A little more emphasis on fast would have been nice.

That action often requires a complete disregard for reality. The bad guys are lucky that a fleet of self-driving cars just happen to be in the right parking garage. And the use of a weapon that can knock out all electronics magically ignores the car in which it is being carried. Those blips get blasted away.

Because the action is so big, it’s not necessary to have had to have seen any of the other films in the franchise. Loyal fans get a bonus as the film has connections to past productions.

Fan or not, in the case of this offering with all the crash, bang and pop of a summer blockbuster, just put your brain in neutral and “The Fate of the Furious” won’t drive you crazy. It’s all about how furious the action scenes can be, and those are supercharged.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

The Fate of the Furious

Movie review

Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood

Director: F. Gary Gray

140 minutes

Rated PG-13 (adult situations, violence, language)

Opens: Friday, April 14

Check movie times at calendar.fresnobee.com/movies.aspx