'The Fate of the Furious' races big names onto the big screen

Preposterous, inane, ridiculous, far-fetched and goofy are just a few of the adjectives I use to describe “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth entry (egad!) into the road-racing feature film series that has actually gotten better with age.  

I really did not care for the first four entries in the series because they had no substantial plots, twists or storylines.  A two-minute cameo from Vin Diesel at the end of “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” does not justify my time or emotional investment in a flick that was doomed from the word “go.”  

To me, the whole quartet was just a bunch of silly time wasters and not worth the time or energy to view the whole package. They went so far as to trick viewers into making the fourth chapter, “Fast and Furious,” by taking out the word “The” from the title! That is the dumbest way of misleading viewers to return to a franchise that was near death.

I began to care about this series in the fifth chapter when they brought Dwayne Johnson into the mix.  He has screen presence and I think that goes back to his days as “The Rock.” His alter ego made faces by shifting his eyes and cocking his eyebrows.

Gone are the street racing days of Paul Walker and Diesel, since those times have led to modern day cops and robbers actioners.  To me, the only real car in the early entries was the car Dom (Diesel) drove, a 1960s era Dodge Super Sport.

Going back to “Fate,” this is the first chapter without Walker's character involved in the story.  Instead, we are treated to a corrupt and evil Charlize Theron pulling the strings as Cipher, a reprehensible villain who causes the aforementioned Diesel and his Dominic Toretto character to essentially turn on his extended family.

Also cool in this entry is the appearance of Oscar-winner Helen Mirren as the matriarch of brotherly villains Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen (Luke Evans).  Mirren and Theron, breathe new life into the corny proceedings.

Returning as well is Kurt Russell as “Mr. Nobody,” along with the aforementioned Johnson.  New to the mix is Scott Eastwood (“Suicide Squad”) as Little Nobody, a higher-up suit who works for Russell.

The storyline here involves a Russian submarine, the God’s Eye (a plot device from the seventh chapter), and a forgotten lover, Elena (Elsa Pataky), from a previous chapter.

The reins on this were handled by F. Gary Gray, who worked with Theron on 2003’s update of “The Italian Job.”  I liked that one, giving it a B- when it came out.  “Fate,” like Diesel’s return as Xander Cage in “xXx:  the Return of Xander Cage,” is a complete mess of over-the-top scenarios involving illogical situations and ridiculous outcomes.  To see a grown adult man on the ocean riding a motorcycle with skis is so far beyond ludicrous, one just has to chuckle.  It is, however just fun to watch on the big screen.

I hate to admit it, but this chapter delivers the goods big time. It is also so far-fetched that one will leave the theater smiling.

                                      Grade:  B-