B movies with A movie budgets seem to be the norm today. Even the superhero extravaganzas that fill up the multiplex screens so frequently these days could easily be lumped into that category. Granted, it would be nice to see more A quality movies being made on A budgets, I will admit to enjoying the cinematic equivalent of a candy bar on occasion. The Fate of the Furious is a fairly good example of how this thing should be done if it’s a requirement for movie theaters to stay in business, which it seems to be at this point.

When the first film, The Fast and the Furious, appeared some sixteen years ago, I would have laughed so hard that milk would have spewed forth from my nostrils if someone had predicted that this series of films would still be going strong nearly two decades later. And yet, with the release of the latest in the series, The Fate of the Furious (number eight if you’re counting) I’ll be damned if they haven’t managed to come up with one of the best entries in the entire series. Who would have thought it was possible? Yes, it’s big, dumb and implausible but also undeniable loads of fun.

The gang (Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Chris Bridges, etc.), which seems to keep expanding with each passing entry in the franchise, is recruited for a mission to retrieve a device that will wipe out power grids and such. Dom, the character played by Vin Diesel, goes rogue right in the midst of the mission leaving the gang bewildered as to what his motives might be. It seems that Dom has been recruited by a villain, who goes by the moniker of Cipher (Charlize Theron), to assist her in her plans to take control of the device and, later, a nuclear briefcase. Dom has his reasons, of course, which are eventually revealed.

Along the way, Helen Mirren and Kurt Russell (returning from the previous entry) also show up and are given some interesting things to do.    The film is directed with flair by F. Gary Gray, who’s an old pro when it comes to helming action films, as evidenced by his work in the 90s on such fare as The Negotiator and Set It Off. He certainly knows how to effectively stage action sequences no matter how ridiculous the circumstance. One need look no further than the sequence in the film where a fleet of driverless cars are hacked and sent literally raining onto the crowded streets.

Another refreshing component found in the film is in its sense of humor, sharper here than in any of the other films in the franchise. There are almost as many laughs as action scenes in The Fate of the Furious. It’s a nice touch when a film knows that it shouldn’t take itself so seriously and figuratively winks at the audience. That’s something that other films of this type would do well to emulate

This movie is playing at the AMC 15 theater (formerly the Carmike) in Hickory, and all around the area.
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