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The Fate of the Furious

Year: 2017
Studio: Universal
Director: F Gary Gray
Producer: Vin Diesel, Neil Moritz, Chris Morgan
Writer: Chris Morgan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Chris bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Luke Evans, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood

I'm sure every review I write about another Fast and the Furious movie mentions the dizzying upward direction of the canvas on which this super-driving squad play. If you drew a graph of the whole series where the 'x' axis was about the stakes for world peace where they started out hijacking semi trailers loaded with DVD players, the graph would be nearly vertical at this point.

The gimmicky hook this time is that Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue. After he and the gang successfully jack an electromagnetic weapon from a German power plant, he runs Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson) off the road to take it for himself, riding off into the darkness to leave Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and everyone else wondering what the hell he's doing.

Turns out he's being blackmailed into it by hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron, looking like a cross between a female Drexel Spivey and a Vogue cover shoot) and who has resources most billionaire CEO's don't have, let alone computer hackers.

So the gang's high-level government handler Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) hatches a plan to bring Dom down by springing their old enemy Deckard (Jason Statham) out of prison to join them, and the globetrotting battle is on.

Of course, all that's just a rough story sketch for a whole lot of scenes of violent, frenetic eye candy. They don't just get Deckard out of prison, Hobbes (who's been incarcerated after the secretary has disavowed any knowledge of the team's actions, etc) has to beat seven shades of shit out of half the prison during a riot to catch him – all with machine gun cutting and whiplash frame rates and camera angles.

And the villain doesn't just hijack a disused Russian submarine during the climax – she launches torpedoes from it, sends it smashing through the ice sheet as they all drive away in front of it, etc. It used to be about clever driving in tricked out cars, but the whole thing had morphed into an urban James Bond homage directed by Michael Bay, with no stone left unexploded.

It's complete switch-your-brain-off stuff, and if you can do that successfully there are pleasures to be had in the quips, wisecracks and action. There are plenty of poster-worthy visuals, especially the zeitgeisty moment when Cipher and her team remotely hijack fleets of smart cars all over New York city and send them in a swarm to attack a Russian political motorcade carrying nuclear launch codes.

Like the prison breakout or power plant escape, it could have been done by just surreptitiously breaking into the guy's hotel room, dispatching the guards and stealing the briefcase, but in the hands of F Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton), this is a franchise that doesn't do anything unless it can do so with maximum eye-popping destruction.

Throw in all the usual brand elements like a street race watched over by bushels of bikini clad hoes and the eye-rolling character tics like Roman's (Tyrese Gibson) comic shtick, and you get exactly what you pay for.

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