If you are familiar with the “Fast and Furious” franchise, it will come as no surprise that the climax of the new one involves a car chase across an ice lake, a Russian nuclear submarine, and a baby carried into the middle of a knife fight aboard an airplane overhead.
But remember: It’s about family.
The new one, the eighth installment, is called “The Fate of the Furious.” As ever, it has motor oil in its veins and spare parts in its head. It’s a dumb movie with a few fun action beats. It will make a lot of money.
We rejoin the team of illegal race-car drivers who also double as special agents. The crux of the plot this time is that Dom (Vin Diesel) inexplicably turns on his crew while stealing a weapon of mass destruction in Berlin.
Worse, he delivers the bomb to the nefarious Cipher, a James Bond villain with a lust to rule the world. She is played by Charlize Theron, who strongly resembles a computer-generated motion-capture version of Charlize Theron. Along with stealing the WMD, Cipher has appropriated the guidebook for bad mega-villain dialogue.
Dom leaves behind his beloved Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), sidekick cut-ups Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and ex-federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Returning from the previous installment is Deep State overseer Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell); he’s got a new rookie sidekick, inevitably dubbed Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood, son of Clint). If nothing else, Eastwood brings a much-needed infusion of hair — between Diesel, Johnson and returning antagonist Jason Statham, this group is very thin on top.
Other characters return not only from the past but also from the dead, as is the custom in this series. This thing is like a daytime soap opera with car chases.
There are plenty of those, starting with a nutty opening sequence in Havana. Lots of spy-movie gadgetry, too, including a stun-bomb described as “Next-generation compression grenade. Scrambles your senses.”
That is practically a working description of the “Fast and Furious” series, of course, and extends not only to the action but the dialogue. The script alternates between learned disquisitions on Choice Theory, jokes about the Rock wearing tank tops, and laughably hokey villain pronouncements.
When Cipher holds up a baby and threatens to do her worst, Theron looks as though she would really like a mustache to twirl. That “Fate of the Furious” does not give her one is a rare moment of restraint.
“The Fate of the Furious” (2 stars)
Crew leader Dom (Vin Diesel) turns on his friends, stealing a WMD for supervillain Charlize Theron. This eighth installment of the series is rife with terrible dialogue and fun action beats; key returning players include Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez.
Rating: PG-13, for violence, language
Showing: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas, Thornton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza