Corny, action-packed, 'F8' understands what it is


I get it. I understand why the new wave of “Fast and the Furious” flicks have a following. They are the definition of summer popcorn movies. Explosions; check. Fast cars that everyone has always dreamed of driving; check. Attractive actresses and actors in every role from offscreen extras to the center protagonists; check.

The newest installment in the series, “The Fate of the Furious,” — the eighth(!) in a series that will never see an end because people still rush to the theaters to inhale them — is all of that and doesn’t try to be anything more.

This movie is simple. The dialogue is bad, cheesy and lazy — I was literally shaking my head and laughing at how horrible nearly every line was. There are tons of plot holes and the character’s motivations are flimsy. 

But the action, as unbelievable and — at times — poorly rendered as it is, is fun to watch and there’s some humor that hits, especially the back-and-forth banter between Dwayne Johnson (“San Andreas,” “Moana”) and Jason Statham (“The Transporter,” “Crank”) — I want to see a movie between those two outside of this overcooked franchise. 

If you’re looking for anything more than a two-hour, ‘90s video game on the big screen, do not watch this movie. This is for the fans of the franchise — the millions of them around the globe that helped it break the international box office with a record $532.5 million in its first week, according to BBC — and it’s a movie that you can passively watch at home with some friends while you laugh at how over-the-top and nonsensical it is.

The plot is straightforward enough: Vin Diesel’s (“xXx,” “Pitch Black”) Dom betrays his team because Charlize Theron’s (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Monster”) Cipher, who is an off-the-grid hacker that hopes to hold the world “accountable,” has leverage on him. From there, director F. Gary Gray — the man behind two great films in “Straight Outta Compton” and “Law Abiding Citizen” — does his best to mask Chris Mogan’s predictable script with enough quick-zooming shots in action sequences that will undoubtedly frustrate the hell out of physics professors.

Michelle Rodriguez is back as Letty but isn’t given much to do beside pout and miss Dom, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris aren’t bad as comic relief buddies, Roman and Tej, and Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody fits in this phony world where some one can swing a car door and knock a person off a jet ski while they’re speeding at 60 miles per hour.

The franchise has come a long way from the tension-filled semi truck scene in the original “Fast and the Furious.” I miss those days. The first was great because there was some stakes. When Paul Walker was hanging off the edge of his orange street racer while screaming down a highway at more than 80 miles per hour, there was a sense of danger.

In “The Fate of the Furious” no one is ever in trouble. Everyone is indestructible. The good guys are going to win and everyone is going to make it to the end — heck, they even bring several people back from the dead. This is a wash-rinse-repeat heist movie that has some heart, solid action and a dash of humor. Don’t expect anything else and you’ll be fine.

5/10

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BOX OFFICE REVIEW

1. “The Fate of the Furious:” $98,787,705 (Week 1); Universal. 

2. “The Boss Baby:” $16,012,349 (Week 3); Fox. Total Gross: $116,793,579.

3. “Beauty and the Beast:” $13,705,122 (Week 5); Buena Vista/Disney. Total Gross: $454,720,873.

4. “Smurfs: The Lost Village:” $6,714,300 (Week 2); Sony. Total Gross: $24,945,059.

5. “Going in Style:” $6,288,402 (Week 2); Warner Bros. Total Gross: $23,318,880.

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COMING SOON

“Unforgettable” — A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband's new wife.

- Director: Denise Di Novi

- Cast: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Cheryl Ladd

“Born in China” — Venturing into the wilds of China, "Born in China" captures intimate moments with a panda bear and her growing cub, a young golden monkey who feels displaced by his baby sister, and a mother snow leopard struggling to raise her two cubs.

- Director: Chuan Lu

- Cast: John Krasinski, Xun Zhou

“Phoenix Forgotten” — Twenty years after three teenagers disappeared in the wake of mysterious lights appearing above Phoenix, Ariz., unseen footage from that night has been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition.

- Director: Justin Barber

- Cast: Florence Hartigan, Luke Spencer Roberts, Chelsea Lopez, Justin Matthews

“Free Fire” — Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

- Director: Ben Wheatley

- Cast: Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy

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