Fast and Furious 8

Dominic Toretto and his family of hackers, thieves and miscreants return in what has become Universal Picture’s biggest franchise of all time. After facing off against drug barons, the US government and ex-SAS soldiers, what foe could possible threaten “the family” in Fast and Furious 8 (despite the marketing that’s what the title card says) ?  Quite possibly their most difficult foe yet, Dom himself!

The Fast and the Furious series has taken some very interesting paths over the years, from an object of derision to global superstar.  It’s hard to believe that a film series that started out about street racing, equipment theft, brotherhood and betrayal has managed to make it to 8 episodes in less time than it took Star Wars.

In the latest outing Dom (Vin Diesel), is forced to betray the family he’s grown over the years, as the hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) blackmails him into working for her against his friends. With the backing of Mr Nobody (a returning Kurt Russel) and some unasked for assistance from Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw (the villain of Fast and Furious 7),  it’s up to Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Chris Ludacris ), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey ( Nathalie Emmanuel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to find Dom and stop Cipher’s plans, and to do so while spending as much time as possible in their car seats while driving very, very fast.

It’s about family

Fast and Furious 8 - The Family

It’s easy, (oh so easy!) to scoff at the Fast and the Furious, but this is a series that has come to know exactly what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to be as entertaining as possible while remaining within the framework it’s built.  It’s got to have fast cars, exotic locations, a credible threat and decent fight choreography with laughs, thrills and spills (and the odd sad moment), thrown in for good measure.

The Fate of the Furious adheres to this formula beautifully, making for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining ride.

With the absence of Paul Walker, it could have been left up to Diesel to carry the entire film, which is not always a good idea, but making him part of the enemy works well. He’s too angry to speak for most of the film giving the rest of the cast some room.  Diesel still delivers his usual turn as Torreto, all growls, scowls and speeches about family, although he seems to be stretched a little thin when he’s trying to portray incandescent rage. It can look like he’s having a particularly painful bowel movement.

Fast and the Furiosa

Fast and Furious 8 Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel

Charlize Theron proves a more than worthy adversary for Dom and the team. Calculating and efficient, she manages to avoid the histrionics that befall many villainous characters.

With Dom out of the picture it’s up to the rest of the team to step up and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is hilarious as he indulges his larger than life persona, all weird “down home” threats and muscle. The banter between him and Jason Statham’s Deckard is worth the price of admission alone. Like Diesel, the role of Letty seems to fit Rodriguez’s like a glove at this stage, while ‘Ludacris’ and Tyrese Gibson resume their buddy routine with Nathalie Emmanuel’s hacker Ramsey from the previous movie slotting nicely into the team dynamic.

Statham handles the switch from villain to reluctant ally incredibly well and in a plane based set piece has one of the best action scenes of the year so far. Scott Eastwood, son of Clint,  also joins the team accompanying Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody as “Little Nobody”. By no means a replacement for Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner he does provide a fresh, if inexperienced perspective for the team and provides an excuse for further government sanction escapades in the inevitable sequels. As for Walker, the team don’t want to “drag Brian and Mia into this” and he remains exactly where we left him at the touching end of  Fast and Furious 7.  

For the fans, and based upon those box office results who isn’t, there are plenty of returning characters and cameos to delight in and Fate of the Furious even manages to tie together elements from the previous films far better than the Bond franchise was able to do with Spectre. Helen Mirren is fantastic in an extended cameo and even Leo and Santos manage to turn up after their conspicuous absence in Fast and Furious 7. 

Plenty of gas left in the tank

Fast and Furious 8 Vin Diesel

F8 adheres to the formula of mostly well realised action, cool car stunts and pretty funny jokes and insults. Some of the action scenes are shot a little too tightly, with some annoying camera shake, however the majority of the action remains thrilling. The car scenes, as expected, do not disappoint.  What CG effects are used, are almost indistinguishable from the live action footage.Considering the stunts pulled in the previous entries the action does feel slightly more grounded, even if the circumstances are absurd. Only in this series can the addition of a Ripsaw tank be seen as a step toward realism.

Once you stop questioning why no one gets out of their cars in order to solve some of the problems they face and strap in for the ride, Fast and Furious 8 is just as entertaining as the last few entries in the series and proves that there is still plenty of life left in the franchise.

Starring:  Vin Diesel,  Jason Statham,  Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez,  Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges,   Charlize Theron,  Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel,  Kristofer Hivju

Directed by: F Gary Gray

Official Site here.