I think that with a movie like this in this franchise especially, there are two levels of stupidity: one is the kind that makes a dumb action movie so flavorful with your massive, over-priced popcorn and soda – it knows how crazy it is and it goes for it.
The sequence in this movie, which also has some of the *other* dumb, which I’ll get to momentarily, that typifies this is when Cipher (Charlize Theron) has not only Dom (Vin Diesel) in his car going after the Russian dude that has the nuclear Macguffincodes or what have you, involves Cipher and her small team using their Special Hacking Movie Skills to hack what seems to be every single car within a many-block radius in Manhattan, NYC, and are able to make every car (driver or not) drive on their own so they can box in the Russian limo and his motorcade.
It’s a gloriously stupid sequence to behold, but on the surface it appears to be done with a considerable amount of attention paid to the mounting pressure of first a few cars and then a mountain of cars falling out of a multi-level parking deck that makes the Blues Brothers look like they need some Popeye spinach to catch up.
Yet while it has a level of entertainment to it, and perhaps I was the dumb one deep down for trying to apply logic to it, there were a lot of things about the sequence that didn’t make sense on a simple, logical level. What, apply logic to a seemingly critic-proof, multi-billion dollar franchise that now has China money flowing in like a blood transfusion? Sure, why not?
For example – the team that the Rock and Kurt Russell have together (Scott Eastwood joins up this time) should be on the alert for suspicious things going on (maybe one of the hackers in *their* group could, I don’t know, try to see if Dominic turns up first somewhere?) and yet it’s halfway through this massive carsploitation set piece until they get into their cars (from BROOKLYN no less, sorry but I noticed and I’m sure others will too) and head out to stop what’s going on.
Aside from them getting to where the action is happening in record time – and even then I could suspend my disbelief – it didn’t make sense within the logic (however illogical) the movie had going for it. Not to mention that sort of right before this a meeting happens between Dom (when, shockingly, Cipher and their team can’t seem to find him?!) and Helen Mirren’s character (her real identity I dare not reveal in case you have the guts to see this popcorn fire of a movie), and yet here it doesn’t make sense how he could call her in time considering everything that’s happened since Cipher forced him to “Go Rogue” as it were.
The kind of “Bad Dumb” is more things like that, where it’s not the fun dumb bad stuff that action movies like this and others have – I’m used to that, after all, and I’ve seen 75% of this franchise (missing two of the eight, and I don’t imagine I’m missing *too* much in the sordid saga, eh) – it’s more of the badness that comes from a hacky screenwriter who tries initially to set up cool things, and then says “f*** it” and lets the story run amuck.
And it’s not that this is even hard stuff to figure out; one knows from a story like this, where the “team/Family” of the ‘F&F’ crew (among them return Statham and the Rock, the latter two the best parts of the movie particularly their scenes together) have to deal with a lead who “turns” (think, I dunno, friggin Muppets Most Wanted, for example) that all will be revealed to be something shocking or surprising.
What Cipher’s plan is though relies on a LOT of things that have to fall in to place, and also for us to remember a particular female character who, frankly, I forgot all about. And by the end of it all, when (spoiler?) Dom turns back around to join the F&F crew, it’s all so water under the bridge there might as well not be water or bridges ever again.
Aside from Johnson and Statham, there’s no purpose in pointing out acting, or what is basically asked of these people as posturing or fulfilling their one 1/2 poses and characters – they’re funny and charming and Statham especially brings it in a climax that involves a baby, of all things – but I should mention that Theron felt wasted here.
She makes what should be a fun thrill park ride into something that’s overly serious, like she’s, you know, in a *real* movie, and the tone didn’t work for me. She’s fine of course, don’t get me wrong, but she tries to bring subtlety and quiet-voiced menace to a role that should be, possibly, maybe, more over the top or scenery chewing.
If there was that, it wouldn’t collide so much in tone with the jokier F&F Crew scenes. But as she is acting in a whole other movie (and only doing alright by it, frankly, and she never does action in the way one might’ve seen in Fury Road or the upcoming Atomic Blonde), and it shows.
What else is there to say? These characters and this world are a live-action cartoon or even an anime TV show, where it’s loaded for bear with soap operatic twists, while also being PG-13 “family” fun that has less than zero consequences to any of its action. I’m sure everyone got paid handsomely, it’s morose-looking monotoned star most of all in Diesel, but by the end I felt like I lost more brain cells than when I went in, which, for all of their ludicrous and shameless trajectories, the other sequels didn’t do (or at least since ‘2 Fast’).
Source: MisterWhiplash – imdb