The Fate of the Furious (4K Blu-ray) (2017)
|Category||Action Adventure||Audio Commentary-with Director F. Gary Gray|
|Year Of Production||2017|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||F. Gary Gray|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS-X|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It remains baffling that a terrible movie like 2001’s The Fast and the Furious could beget a few equally terrible sequels before suddenly transforming into one of the most profitable franchises of all time. As a matter of fact, it’s about as baffling as the primary characters graduating from street-racing reprobates who steal DVD players to skilled mercenaries saving the world from nuclear weapons. The Fast & Furious series probably should have been retired after 2015’s Furious 7, especially with star Paul Walker tragically dying halfway through production, but its $1.5 billion box office gross guaranteed further sequels. The start of a proposed new trilogy of Furious pictures, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious provides what fans are after: cars go fast, there are explosions, tone-deaf rap is blasted on the soundtrack, the scale is enormous, and credulity is strained to breaking point. However, unlike the leaden Furious 7, this seventh sequel actually manages to provide exactly the type of high-octane, entertaining action ride that it promises on the tin, despite its many flaws.
While honeymooning in Cuba as he contemplates starting a family with his main squeeze Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is visited by powerful cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who blackmails him into turning against his “family.” DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recruits Toretto and his crew to retrieve an EMP in Berlin, but the now-rogue Dom betrays the team after the extraction, stealing the weapon for Cipher and promptly disappearing. The act leaves Dom’s crew - including Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Tej (Ludacris) - bewildered that their faithful leader has ostensibly betrayed them. Enter covert government operative Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his offsider, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), who enlist their help to track down Cipher and Dom, and stop a nuclear war. For extra muscle, Mr. Nobody also recruits former enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who wants revenge against Cipher.
What distinguishes Fate from prior instalments in the franchise is Dom going rogue, effectively reducing him to a supporting role (and keeping him as far away from The Rock as possible...), which provides a welcome break from the standard Fast & Furious formula. However, this aspect of the storyline is a bit of a letdown on the whole. See, it’s made explicitly clear from the very beginning that Dom is being manipulated against his will, taking away any sense of intrigue or gravity that the story arc might have otherwise provided. Dom’s “family” are kept in the dark about his motives the whole time, but the reveal to the audience comes far too soon into the game. This is not Captain America: Civil War. Furthermore, it seems that returning screenwriter Chris Morgan (his sixth consecutive Furious sequel) still hasn’t mastered pacing or dialogue. Outside of some uproarious macho bantering (which was likely improvised), dialogue is stilted and uninteresting for the most part, and blatant exposition is lathered on. This is meant to be a fun action blockbuster, but these movies continually insist on unnecessarily exceeding the two-hour mark, becoming bogged down with flaccid dramatic subplots that are difficult to care about.
Pointing out the movie’s lapses in logic, as well as its proud defiance of the laws of physics, is about as futile as writing a review of a critic-proof blockbuster. Suffice it to say, The Fate of the Furious is a huge, expensive cartoon, though new director F. Gary Gray often manages to make it look just real enough to sell the illusion. It’s easy to understand why Gray was recruited for Fate, as he gained experience with car action on 2003’s The Italian Job remake (starring Statham and Theron), and he directed Diesel in the underrated A Man Apart. However, there’s still far too much CGI in a franchise that was previously so reliant on practical effects, and there are a few “nuke the fridge” moments which will likely have audiences roaring with laughter. Of course, the flick gets creative with its primary action sequences - Cipher even creates an army of “zombie” cars by hacking into self-driving vehicles, and the finale features a f***ing submarine because why the hell not? There’s enough mayhem here to please loyal fans of the franchise, though it’s hard to shake the feeling that all of the big set-pieces are car-related because of pure contrivance and obligation - it would be interesting to see the franchise branch out a bit more. (Also, why continue to use beautiful multi-million dollar vehicles like Lamborghinis for dangerous jobs when they’re just going to be destroyed?)
It goes without saying that Deckard’s sudden switch to the “good guy” side strains all sorts of credibility, especially given that Deckard killed one of Dom’s guys, and Dom left Deckard’s brother almost disabled. But at this point in the franchise, and with Hobbs’ allegiances having already changed, you just have to roll with the punches. It does seem that the arrival of a new, worse bad guy means that the gang’s previous nemesis gets an invitation to one of the “family” cookouts. Still, Statham is so much fun here that he’ll likely win you over, and his magnificent solo action sequence during the final act stands as the best set-piece in the movie, even though it doesn’t involve cars in any way. It is pleasing to see Statham being given the chance to show off his insane martial arts skills as he fights his way through dozens of nameless goons.
This series is no stranger to humour, but the studiously unfunny Gibson (who’s still completely useless) is usually given most of the “comedic” material. Luckily, Fate does right by letting the likes of Johnson and Statham pick up the slack. These two are, after all, highly adept at comedy but are rarely given the opportunity to flex these muscles, and it’s an absolute joy to watch their riotous bantering as the pair try to hold back from pummelling one another. Diesel remains something of a dead-weight at this point, and could easily be ditched in favour of Johnson, Statham and Russell. (A spin-off with all three would be very enticing.) As a matter of fact, Diesel is the only actor who doesn’t seem to understand what type of movie he’s in. Even the likes of Eastwood seem to be having a good time, but Diesel delivers his dialogue (including his bizarre pronunciation of the oft-repeated word “family”) as if he’s appearing in an Oscar-calibre drama. At least Tokyo Drift star Lucas Black is kept away.
As perhaps is to be expected, the absence of the late Paul Walker in the group dynamic is really felt, as he functioned as the necessary glue to hold all the other personalities together as a unit. Certainly, it was wise to exclude Walker’s Brian O’Conner given the circumstances, but none of the other performers can replace him, and the group is without a solid anchor. Still, efforts from most of the ensemble are acceptable, with Johnson again showing why he’s become such a huge star in recent years, and Russell making a good impression as per usual. Theron could be mistaken for a James Bond villain due to her hammy performance here, even sporting dreadlocks to top off the image. However, Emmanuel’s Ramsey (carried over after her intro in Furious 7) has no purpose, and only serves to beef up an already crowded ensemble. On a more positive note, Helen Mirren pops in for a brief cameo, espousing a hilariously uncivilised British accent that will remind you why we all love her so much. Mirren’s scenes are some of the most charming in the whole movie.
The Fast & Furious franchise reached its peak with 2011’s surprisingly solid Fast Five, and it’s only been downhill from there, unable to maintain the same level of quality. Still, the fact that this eighth instalment is watchable in any way has to be some type of miracle, and it’s worth watching if you’re seeking a fun time without any brain power required. At this point in the franchise, however, it would be far more interesting to see a Fast & Furious sequel which doesn’t abide by the “bigger is better” adage, and drastically tones down the scale in favour of intensity. After all, movies like Bullitt, The Driver and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive didn’t need $250 million budgets to provide thrilling car chases. (Plus, the original movie only carried a modest $38 million price-tag.) The Fate of the Furious may be enjoyable in fits and starts, but it’s much too long and over-the-top, in need of some discipline. At least two more instalments are imminent, which is preposterous for a franchise as hit-and-miss as this.
The Fate of the Furious is one of the first 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays to come with High Dynamic Range encoded in Dolby Vision, as opposed to just HDR10. Now, some housekeeping before we continue. At the time of writing, Dolby Vision playback is limited - only a select few televisions support Dolby Vision, and only two players can play Dolby Vision discs: the Oppo UDP-203 and the LG UP970 (though the firmware update for the latter has reportedly been pulled back and delayed, to resolve technical issues). Thankfully, if your set-up does not support Dolby Vision, the movie plays in regular old HDR10. To accommodate the 135-minute movie, Universal make use of a dual-layered 66GB disc, and it proves to be sufficient since the 2160p transfer has the entire disc to itself. And with the hugely competent HEVC/H.265 video encode, the resulting presentation will please both videofiles and fans.
According to IMDb, The Fate of the Furious was only completed at 2K resolution, presumably making this an upscale directly from the digital intermediate. While the detail and texture of the presentation does lack the definitive "pop" of some native 4K productions (The Revenant is still the king), the image is still very good nevertheless, exhibiting magnificent sharpness, eye-catching highlights and bold colours that leave little to be desired. In fact, during the transfer's best moments, you could mistake this for a native 4K image. The transfer is agreeably refined, though the added definition admittedly doesn't do some of the green-screening or the CGI shots any favours. The image is definitely darker compared to the standard 1080p Blu-ray, but whatever colour scheme works best will remain in the eye of the beholder. One assumes that both are faithful to the intentions of the filmmakers.
Clarity is superb no matter the lighting conditions, and the presentation resolves so much detail at any given time, noticeably surpassing the standard Blu-ray. When Hobbs begins working out in prison, you can discern every single bead of sweat on his body. Close-ups of Johnson and Statham at the 40-minute mark reveal so much texture on their faces, and flawlessly brings out their respective facial hair. Plus, even in medium shots, every hair on Kristofer Hivju's beard can be made out with ease. Since the movie was shot with Arri Alexa cameras, there is a noticeable layer of source-related noise that's better brought out and resolved compared to the 1080p Blu-ray thanks to the added resolution.
For all the hoo-ha about Dolby Vision, it is a mostly minor upgrade compared to HDR10, providing a bit more of a balanced image in darker moments since the metadata is dynamic rather than static. Having said that, the HDR is still the primary reason why this presentation trumps its 1080p counterpart - the image looks more vivid, lifelike and balanced. Contrast is improved too, creating a terrific sense of depth. The cars are eye-poppingly colourful while skin tones are realistic, at no point looking too over-saturated. It's worth pointing out that some users online have reported issues with black bars looking grey with DV playback, but I experienced no such issues whilst watching this disc with my settings. However, when I cranked up the brightness to maximum, the bars did turn grey. Luckily, I was able to find the settings on my television that worked best without seeing grey bars or making the movie look too dark. Luckily, too, I didn't detect any encoding glitches whilst watching this disc - there are no artefacts to speak of.
In all likelihood, Universal neglected to provide the extended cut on 4K Blu-ray to save on disc space, lest they become compelled to utilise a pricier triple-layered 100GB disc. Both Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 arrived on Ultra HD Blu-ray with the option of an extended cut, but that came at the price of a lossless audio track. Clean up your act, Universal! All things considered, though, The Fate of the Furious is a winner on 4K. It looks even better than it did at the cinema, thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR.
Only English subtitles are available.
|Surround Channel Use|
The 4K disc does not feature all the supplemental material from the standard Blu-ray, but at least this means that the movie is given plenty of breathing space on the disc. The 4K set does come with the standard Blu-ray disc as well, however, which features all of the extras detailed in my review of said disc. There is also a JB Hi-Fi exclusive edition with a bonus DVD, the components of which have been covered in another review.
Gray comes in strong from the very beginning, thanking many of the people who had a hand in making the movie happen before proceeding into a scene-specific string of minor factoids. It's clear that he was a smart pick for the job, as he's a self-professed car enthusiast and clearly has a soft spot for this franchise. He talks about the actors, the cars, and he hints at the rumoured spinoff featuring The Rock and Statham that still really needs to happen. However, Gray has a tendency to speak in clichés, and to simply talk about things occurring on-screen - plus, his personal analysis of various things throughout the movie is way too self-serious. Most amusing is Gray proclaiming during the final scene that he tried to convey the concept of family visually, but every second sentence of dialogue contains the word. In the grand pantheon of audio commentaries, this is one of the weakest I've heard lately. It just never penetrates the surface enough.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This 4K edition is in line with the vanilla American release. There is, however, a Walmart exclusive with a code for exclusive bonus content available to stream on VUDU, and said extras are available on a physical DVD in the JB Hi-Fi exclusive bonus disc edition. When all's said and done, I'm calling this one a draw.
The Fate of the Furious won me over in the end...kind of. Its overblown and too long, and Diesel is utter dead weight at this point, but some of the action scenes do entertain, and it's enjoyable watching Statham and The Rock do their thing. These movies are critic-proof, though, so do what you like.
The 4K presentation is exceptional. The image (with Dolby Vision HDR) constantly displays so much texture and depth, while the accompanying lossless DTS:X audio track will probably leave your neighbours registering noise complaints. The extras on the accompanying standard Blu-ray are fine, but the appeal of this disc is the reference-quality transfer. Still, if you don't like the franchise, you need not apply.
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|