Review of reviews: Film
Fate of the Furious
Directed by F. Gary Gray (PG-13)
Drag racers battle a cyberterrorist.
Just when you think the Fast and the Furious franchise is about to run out of gas, “it gets outfitted with an even more elaborate fuel-injection system,” said Owen Gleiberman in Variety. The series’ eighth installment “may just be the most spectacular one yet,” combining multiple action genres in a pulpy thriller that “packs a heady escapist wallop.” Two Furious mainstays, Dom and Letty, are honeymooning in Cuba when Charlize Theron, playing a villain named Cipher, approaches Vin Diesel’s Dom and apparently blackmails him into turning against his wife and all their pals from the simpler days when they were merely drag-racing gearheads. Before long, we’re watching a thermonuclear cyberthriller, and though the late action sequences are as spectacular as you’d expect, this sequel “can’t shake the feeling that it only exists because the last film made $1.5 billion worldwide,” said Scott Mendelson in Forbes.com. In one of many arbitrary developments, Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, the villain from Furious 7, joins the good guys to bro out with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs. That pair at least adds some welcome humor, said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly. The most rewarding addition to this testosterone bonanza, though, is Theron’s cyber-savvy sociopath, a woman who has “no intention of playing the second sex.”
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (R)
A woman’s inner demon terrorizes a foreign land.
I’m sorry, Anne Hathaway, said April Wolfe in LA Weekly. “It was me; it was never you.” I and a lot of other moviegoers have been put off over the years by all the naïve princess characters you’ve played, but that’s just typecasting, and in this enjoyably weird dramedy, “you are magnetic—and, more important, you are flawed and thoroughly human.” Hathaway plays Gloria, an unemployed alcoholic who returns to her hometown after getting dumped. When she reconnects with Oscar, a childhood friend, Colossal appears headed toward romcom cliché, until the movie “completely circumvents it.” Be forewarned that this movie “swerves wildly” between genres, said David Sims in TheAtlantic.com. As Gloria wrestles with a self-inflicted crisis, a Godzilla-like monster is terrorizing Seoul, and when Gloria watches the news, she realizes she is the monster, somehow controlling its movements. Marrying a Godzilla parody with a dark relationship drama is “an ambitious gambit, to say the least,” and it doesn’t always click. Still, “I forgive Colossal almost everything,” said David Edelstein in NYMag.com. The concept of a woman finding her inner monster is great on its own, and the finished film “demonstrates that even the dumbest genres can be used to profound ends.”
Going in Style
Directed by Zach Braff (PG-13)
Three old coots plot a bank robbery.
This reboot of a 1979 George Burns comedy is “as creaky as its would-be bank robbers’ joints,” said Sara Stewart in The New York Post. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin play three old friends who decide to rob a bank after their pensions are frozen, and the stars are all better than the hackneyed comedy around them. The frustrating part is, “there’s a better movie lurking just out of reach.” You can see it in the occasional flashes of emotion—moments that get buried under “cheap laughs” and “grotesque improbabilities,” said Robert Butler in The Kansas City Star. The dementia jokes all fall flat, and an early scene in which the three codgers shoplift dinner from a supermarket is mere slapstick silliness. Though watching Freeman, Caine, and Arkin work off one another is “never less than pleasant,” the stars’ energy and charm “have been used to disguise how tired, implausible, and overly sentimental the proceedings turn out to be,” said Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. Without them, this ill-conceived remake “wouldn’t have much of a pulse.”
Universal Pictures, Neon/AP, Warner Bros. ■