Review: Fast and Furious 8
Where do you even start?
The eighth (eighth!) instalment of the high octane, street racing/espionage hybrid shows no sign of slowing down – quite the opposite – and you have to wonder how this particular franchise transcended it’s rather modest (and hokey) beginnings to become the bulletproof behemoth we know and love.
Fast and Furious 8, or The Fate of the Furious as it’s also known, finds Super Dom (Vin Diesel) blackmailed by Cipher (Oscar winner Charlize Theron), a Super-hacker straight out of a 90’s techno-thriller, into going rogue and betraying La Familia. Super Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the remaining crew are tasked by Super Secret Agent Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) to track down and stop their former leader in a series of increasingly insane set pieces. You may have noticed that I’ve added Super to everyone’s name there because the idea that these characters are anything but superheroes got off a few exits ago. If the previous films were comparable to the Avengers, Fast 8 takes the next logical step and becomes Guardians of the Galaxy.
Which isn’t in any way a bad thing. The film – sometimes literally – jumps into the action scenes with gleeful abandon and you always feel as if they’re in on the joke, the camera cutting away just moments before The Rock breaks the fourth wall to wink at the audience. How can you take Johnson’s Hobbs redirecting a torpedo fired from a submarine into an enemy truck from the driver’s seat of a moving car WITH HIS BARE HANDS even remotely seriously? You can’t, nor should you. Just enjoy the ride. Sadly, the series’ desire, hell, its raison d’etre, to constantly outdo itself with each new film also hampers some of the action, which while still exciting and technically competent despite a bit of dodgy CGI, isn’t as fresh as some of the other stunts in the previous movies, which is a strange thing to say when the movie has a SUBMARINE CHASE in it. They’ve come up with a winning formula but much of it feels like going through the motions, just at 200 miles per hour.
Speaking of going through the motions, the plot. As ever it isn’t up to much, just an excuse to hang the increasingly insane set pieces on, but certain moments in the script will have you punching the air as they’re the very definition of crowd pleasing, especially for long time fans of the franchise. A certain plot wrinkle adds some much needed weight to the series’ rammed down your throat refrain of family and Vin Diesel actually gets to legitimately act in a few scenes, and get this, is actually quite good although the film does get a little unnecessarily grim at points. Charlize Theron doesn’t say anything that isn’t from a Villainy 101 textbook but at least she looks like she’s having fun. Dwayne Johnson is still the best thing in it and deserves his own spin off with returning villain turned reluctant team member Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who has the best action sequence on a plane and involving a…well, that’d spoil the fun. Find out for yourself.
So, yeah, bulletproof. If this were any other franchise that tried similar it wouldn’t work (and didn’t. Hello xXx), but here, it sings. It’s daft as a brush. It’s daft as a brush factory. It’s not a Good Movie, but it’s a great time at the cinema. Bring on Fast and Furious 9. I hope they go to space.
Thanks to MovieHouse Cinemas for the invite to the premiere.