THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS: The recent spate of FURIOUS movies have been simultaneously entertaining and totally preposterous. The former quotient is often missing in this installment that finds lead “motorhead” Dominic (Vin Diesel) turning against his comrades on wheels when he’s “blackmailed” by a slinky cyberterrorist (Charlize Theron) bent on launching nuclear missiles. Never mind that the incriminating information isn’t damning enough to make any reasonable person go all “Benedict Arnold” on their friends. Screenwriter Chris Morgan’s plot is so bereft of logic and the laws of physics that it all but assumes that viewers are idiots. But in between the clunky dialogue and the almost infinite number of plot holes are the jaw-dropping stunts that include driverless cars hurtling out of multi-level parking garages and urban chases that are somewhat cringe-inducing in light of recent vehicle related terrorist attacks. What humor there is feels forced and generally falls flat. For a movie whose theme constantly harps on “family”, very little chemistry can be detected from the ensemble cast. Johnson (BE COOL), in fact, feels like he’s delivering lines for a Ford commercial while Helen Mirren’s (THE QUEEN) appearance can only be described as bizarre. This is a series that’s lost its’ identity and way. What started as a niche market B-movie about illegal street racers in southern California has transformed into a globetrotting big budget franchise where vehicular daredevils are now saving the world with over the top stunts normally reserved for the Bond-Bourne landscape. F8 (Get the pun here?) is a microcosm of this beginning with a nifty race through Havana streets bookended at the conclusion with a “can you top this?” sequence where highly accessorized and detailed cars are evading a Russian submarine and its torpedo while driving on ice. The good guys may well survive, but the film itself crashes and burns. CRITIC’S GRADE: C-

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some much better movies starring Charlize Theron – THAT THING YOU DO! (1996), THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997), CELEBRITY (1998), MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1998), THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (1999), MEN OF HONOR (2000), THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE (2000), 15 MINUTES (2001), THE ITALIAN JOB (2003), MONSTER (2003)*, NORTH COUNTRY (2005)**, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (2007), THE ROAD (2009), MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

*Academy Award Winner for Best Actress

**Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress