• by Wes Singleton

The Fate of the Furious, C-

Rated PG-13, 136 minutes

"The Fast and the Furious" movies have been reliably entertaining over the years, but with considerable mileage under its belt, wear and tear is starting to show in this ride. The latest installment, "The Fate of the Furious," or "Fast 8" for short since this is the 8th installment in the popular series, is arguably the biggest, loudest and dumbest in the series. For those expecting all the bells and whistles - namely the over-the-top action and stunts - won't be disappointed, but everything else is as silly as it gets.

Now that Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, Brian and Mia have retired from the game, and the rest of the crew, including Agent Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) has been exonerated, the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) seduces Dom back into a world of crime that he can't seem to escape, the crew will face trials that will test them as never before.

"The Fate of the Furious" is directed by F. Gary Gray ("The Italian Job" and "Straight Outta Compton") with a script by usual "Fast and Furious" scribe Chris Morgan, this installment veers off into ultra-silly spy stuff, having evolved from street racing to heists to now terrorism. While providing some of its sublime yet standard action set pieces - lots of chases and stunts - not an ounce of it rings with any charm of some of the other "Fast and Furious" films, not to mention the bittersweet nostalgia of the previous film, when it said goodbye to the late Paul Walker, whose character Brian is paid a sweet tribute here too.

All the gang is back, including Diesel, Rodriguez, The Rock, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, as well as Jason Statham, who now finds a way to actually team up with the crew bring down cyber terrorist and lovely Oscar-winner Theron, woefully miscast here as the bland villain wearing one of the worst hair pieces you could devise, an elaborate and ridiculous-looking braid, that only enhances her chances of being one of the worst villains in recent movie history.

The "Fast and Furious" franchise has hardly been a bastion of subtlety, and "Fate" is no different; Statham is the most relaxed, while Johnson and Diesel are so earnest they seem to be acting in another film altogether, especially Johnson, who spouts some of the worst dialogue of the series (my favorite: "I'm going to beat you like a Cherokee drum"). Inexplicably, Oscar-winner Helen Mirren appears here in a tiny, unnecessary role as Statham's mother, something that must've required an extensive amount of cash to pull off.

On that note, the mindless and forgettable "The Fate of the Furious" will probably make a ton of it in its opening weekend, never mind that it's about 30 minutes too long and easily the weakest in this creaky series. Take a leisurely country drive or wash your car, it'd be far more worthwhile than what Diesel and company have to offer this time out.

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