The least you could say of The Fate of the Furious is that it’s competently made. There’s certainly a veneer of fine action directing surrounding the general schlockiness that makes up the core of this film. It’s not even worth commenting on the plot of The Fate of the Furious, as it is nearly inessential. We’re meant to believe that Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, hamming it up as usual) has somehow gone rogue, but there’s never really any question that his motives are pure. There’s some general silliness with nuclear footballs and a basic idea that the stakes are bigger than ever here, that the villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron) is trying to start World War III. But all-in-all, you could watch the movie muted and still get the general gist of things.
It’s weird to think that any individual actor here is really underutilized, because aside from Vin Diesel, it seems like they’re all pretty underutilized. These are good actors, not being asked to do all that much. Scott Eastwood, for instance, is clearly meant to be the new Brian of the series, but truthfully he makes no impact. Jason Statham makes the most of his moments, but they’re few and far between. This movie spreads its actors so thin that they fail to make much impact. Plus, if you’re going to cast Charlize Theron in a movie like this, she needs to have more of an opportunity to be physical and play things up. This just seems like a misuse of an actress with the versatility to play a character like Furiosa.
Fate of the Furious is probably not the most essential film in The Fast and the Furious series; but it’s also not the most inessential (some of those early films were real bad). But, given the overall trajectory of the franchise, you have to wonder what the next steps are here. There’s clearly been some diminishing returns here, and they haven’t done much to really give audiences anything to care about at this point. Hopefully they figure things out. Either that, or let the franchise die a well-deserved death.