Fast & Furious 8

Posted: April 25, 2017 in Film reviews
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Directed by  F. Gary Gray. Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron.

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Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Rodriguez) are on honeymoon in Cuba. Of course, this being a Fast & Furious film said honeymoon entails a road race around Havana in an exploding car but, you know, never let it be said Dom doesn’t understand the concept of romance…

Everything is hunky-dory, until Dom is approached by a mysterious cyberhacker named Cypher (Theron) who wants him to come work for her. Dom refuses, but Cypher shows him a photo and suggests he changes his mind.

Meanwhile Secret Service agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) has been given an assignment to steal an Electromagnetic pulse device from a terrorist group in Berlin. It’s an off the books job and if he’s caught the American government will disavow him and he’ll end up in prison. Hobbs quickly recruits Dom and the rest of his team/family.

In Berlin things don’t go to plan. Suddenly Dom’s switched sides, the team are on the run, and Hobbs is banged up in prison sharing a cell block with his old adversary Deckard Shaw (Statham).

But, as the true extent of Cypher’s plan becomes clear, secretive intelligence guru Mr Nobody (the always excellent Kurt Russell) decides Hobbs and the team are the only ones who can stop Cypher and Dom… but given they’re a man down he suggests a new recruit that nobody is particularly happy about.

As the countdown to Armageddon draws closer, the team must battle incredible (some might say ludicrous) odds in order to stop Cypher. But just what has made Dom betray his family?

 

It’s hard to remember that when this franchise started it was a down and dirty, not to mention grounded, series. When the fifth instalment semi-rebooted the franchise back in 2011 a scene involving fast cars dragging a bank vault through the streets of Rio suggested the franchise had left it’s roots well and truly behind and embraced a blockbuster future.

Fast & Furious 8 makes Fast Five look like a Mike Leigh film.

Be under no illusions if you go see this. It’s utterly preposterous. People and cars do things that people and cars really can’t ever do. The soundtrack is dialled up to eleven but it has to be to compete with the revving engines, gunfire and explosions which are its near constant companions, and you’ll rarely find a film more loaded with testosterone than this outside of the 1980s action movie heyday.

This film is not remotely subtle.

This film is also fantastically enjoyable. From its Cuban set piece preamble to its ice floe denouement this film doesn’t let up for a minute; fast cars, pretty girls, bald handsome men, guns, fights, jokes…it’s like a two and a half hour roller coaster that somehow never seems to need to climb before it hits you with another drop.

Yes the plot is ropey, and though Theron exudes menace her characterisation is wafer thin and it’s hard to decide just what she wants. Shaw isn’t the first bad guy to turn anti-hero but it is only a film ago that he wanted to kill everyone (and only two films ago that he succeeded in killing one of the group) but if this seems a misstep it’s not, thanks in no small part to Statham’s ebullient charm, and make no mistake the Stath threatens to steal the whole damn movie at times, and he has the best set piece in the film involving a…well, that’d be telling. Suffice to say that with his blend of charisma, comic timing and fighting skills it’s amazing he doesn’t have an action franchise all to himself, and if the rumours about a Shaw/Hobbs spin off are correct I will most assuredly buy that for a dollar.

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Jason and Dwayne’s game of Rock, Paper, Scissors got a little out of hand.

Talking of Hobbs, Johnson rarely gives a poor performance, and like Statham has so much natural charm it’d be irritating if only he wasn’t so damn charming. Whilst he’s the beating heart of the franchise it has to be said that Diesel pales somewhat in comparison to his co-stars. He still has a natural swagger, but he’s showing his age somewhat, and he’s never going to win an Oscar, and he spends most of the film looking conflicted (or trying to). There’s also a touch of narcissistic wish fulfilment going on, given his character can seemingly outwit all of the others put together.

Rodriguez is reliable as ever, and for a film that does tend to focus on blokes—and spends perhaps a trifle too long at the start leering at women’s bottoms—she more than holds her own. Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris are another double act who could probably pull off their own spin off, and newcomer Scott (you might know his dad) Eastwood impresses as the newbie and semi-replacement for the deceased Paul Walker. Really the only dud is Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel  who never remotely convinces as a computer hacker, though her GoT co-star Kristofer Hivju does make for an impressive heavy.

Special mention for Helen Mirren’s EastEnders audition as well…

Yes it’s dumb, yes it has too much cgi and yes it’s hard to know where the hell they go from here (though I seem to recall saying the same after 7) but for all its flaws it’s the kind of film most other blockbusters should pay attention to, well paced and, most of all, enjoyable. I’m not saying I want the Bond franchise to go all Fast & Furious, but they could do worse than take a few of the less ridiculous leaves out of its book when it comes to pacing and set pieces.

Utterly stupid. Utterly enjoyable.

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Both Charlize and Vin wondered who’d farted?

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Comments
  1. I’ve never seen a film in the series, but I’m tempted to, just because they look so daft. It’s a surprisingly big-name cast for an eighth film in a series.

    • starkers70 says:

      They get more big name with each movie. They are absolutely ridiculous, I mean Roger Moore Bond movie ridiculous (that’s not a criticism, quite the reverse)

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