Fast & Furious

“Furious 7” took the world by storm in 2015. Being certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and becoming the sixth highest grossing movie of all time is no small feat. The film is great to boot; a high point in a franchise that is currently enjoying a renaissance after a weak four-picture start. In comparison, this year’s “The Fate of the Furious” is perhaps less well received by audiences, earning a far lower score and will probably, though it’s too early to call, make less money than it’s predecessor. It begets the question: is there a limit to the Vin Diesel-led nonsense that the world can enjoy?

Thankfully, the answer is no, though “Fate of the Furious” shows a few signs of it. There’s still plenty of joy in watching, say, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron being thrown into this world where a submarine-car chase sequences exist, and thus the franchise methodically keeps going in this eighth installment. Everyone’s back, even Jason Statham’s villain character from “Furious 7” who now is working alongside the Fast Team.

The Rock, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese, even Kurt Russell and Nathalie Emmanuel are back, and thrown in is newcomer Scott Eastwood, son of the famous Clint Eastwood. They all must work together to stop Charlize Theron and the suddenly corrupted Vin Diesel from something or other irrelevant, but the lack of a sturdy plot is nothing this franchise can’t overcome. We’re here for intense monologues and witty one liners in between action set pieces and, of course,the film delivers, time and time again.


The Fate of the Furious: 4/5 Cigars


“Gifted,” on the other hand, did not. The fourth feature from director Marc Webb, who previously directed Sony’s failed “Spider-Man” reboot and “500 Days of Summer,” has Chris Evans taking care of his niece after his genius mathematician sister commits suicide. This genius apparently runs in the family, as Jenny Slate, who plays the little girl’s new teacher, soon realizes. Eventually it all culminates in a legal showdown between Evans, the girl’s grandmother and his mother, played by Lindsay Duncan. Octavia Spencer also appears as Evans’s neighbor and confidant.

As one can see, the cast is somewhat stacked with two charismatic and interesting young actors (Evans and Slate) and two dependable veterans (Spencer and Duncan). Really all that is good in the film relies on these four, along with a sometimes surprisingly good, sometimes disappointingly annoying child performance from Mckenna Grace.

But the charm of Evans and Slate’s scenes together are not enough for the lack of passion from the rest of the film. It’s apparently content to just exist, not push or explore anything, and ultimately “Gifted” suffers greatly from that. There are interesting conceits about natural genius and childhood, but none are pursued in any real way, leaving the film feeling slightly empty and pointless. It’s an entertaining and quick hour and a half of cinema, but nothing unexpected really happens, nor anything to justify these actors efforts to keep the film afloat.
Gifted: 2/5 Cigars

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