Monday, April 17, 2017

Looking at Movies - The Fate of the Furious (2017)

I never do any research on the back story behind a movie before I see it because I am never interested in learning about any issues that actors or directors may have had while the production is being made. I do, however, go right to IMDB to see any trivia on movies after I have seen them because I love behind the scenes stuff. Most times, I find that movie studios have a way of getting around the on-set drama and producing a movie that looks like everyone was happy and smiling the whole time. But after I learned about what happened on the set of The Fate of the Furious, a lot of what did not happen in the movie and made the movie fall short of its potential made sense.

I never knew this, but apparently Vin Diesel is a diva who feels no shame in making hundreds of crew people and his co-stars wait for him for up to six hours in the brutal Atlanta summer heat while he chills in his trailer. Diesel is co-producer and co-owner of the Fast and Furious franchise, and he acts like it. After forcing the crew to waste their time waiting for him one day, Vin Diesel ticked off Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Johnson let the Internet know about it. In his post on social media, The Rock called Diesel a "candy ass" and blasted the star for his diva tendencies. The two have not been on speaking terms since.

The timeline for the blowup is confusing because the media reports I read said that it happened later in shooting principle photography, but it is extremely obvious that it has affected the whole movie. Diesel plays Dom and The Rock plays Hobbs. They are supposed to be "brothers," and one would expect brothers to reconcile after one brother stabbed the other in the back for what appears to be no reason. But the real life battle between Diesel and The Rock never allows for the resolution between the two characters, and that creates a hollow ending to an otherwise entertaining movie.

Throughout the movie, Hobbs and Dom are never seen together in the same scene. Even at the heartwarming reunion party at the end of the movie, Hobbs looks like his scene was filmed on a different day and edited in to make it look like he was there. Something was bothering me about this movie the whole time I was watching it, and after finding out how bad the rift was between Diesel and The Rock, I realized quickly that the chemistry between the two is what this movie lacks.

The shame is that this movie is extremely entertaining, even without the right interaction between the two male leads. The Fate of the Furious adds an emotional element through a tried and trued plot trick, a baby, to create several layers that I don't remember any Furious movie having before. When the movie ended at the drive-in, even my son (who has seen and pretty much memorized the other seven movies) noted that this movie has a strong emotional pull to it that made it much more interesting to watch,

Once you wade through the cheese that is Dom's dedication to "family" and the rest of the cliches that are thrown around, you get a movie that has some decent one-liners, an interesting plot, plenty of action and, of course, lots of cars. The Furious gang finally get their own tank in this one too, and they love to use it. The acting is cliche, the cars are incredible, and this movie is everything you would expect from a Furious movie. It is not going to win any awards, but these movies are made to clean-up at the box office and not the Oscars.

What really bothers me is that (I have seen four of these movies) this could probably be the best Furious movie ever made, if it weren't for ego. Diesel's over-sized and glowing cranium apparently houses an ego the size of New York City. That ego is now affecting these movies, and the shame is that Diesel apparently feels that the crew and actors should fall in line, rather than he becoming a responsible executive.

Either way, the scenes involving Jason Statham and a baby are worth the price of admission alone. This movie will be on the drive-in big screen for at least another week and I would strongly recommend you go see it. The language is not very infant friendly, but this is a fun romp that any action movie fan will enjoy.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a movie fanatic who drives neither fast, nor furious. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com.

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