Now, we know that many of you scroll to the bottom of a review and look straight at the score and that equally as many of you are likely as sickened by this review score as you are the inevitable prospect of the oncoming billion dollar crossing success of this latest film in the ever-expanding Fast and Furious franchise but we ask you, what does one reasonably expect from a F&F movie? If you want your entertainment to be intellectually stimulating or grounded in realism, then why on earth are you even reading this? If, however, you are wondering if this latest outing in the pedal to the metal series follows the trend set by 2011’s Fast Five of abandoning the past approaches and embracing the silliness, then rejoice ye fans of vehicular mayhem, as Fast and Furious 8 (also known as The Fate of the Furious) does exactly what it says on the tin.
Hot on tracks of Furious 7, this film catches up with the team, who have become a family over their wars and battles together, however everything is about to be turned upside down when the unthinkable occurs and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) turns his back on his friends and family and joins forces with cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), which compels the stunned group to make some unlikely alliances of their own. Chris Morgan’s screenplay in many ways must be applauded for its gall in targeting Craig-era narrative Bond thrills, whilst also filling the screen with stunts so gravity and logic defying they’ll give scientists a headache. It ain’t high art (see the odd editing mis-cue, some dodgy dialogue and Vin Diesel’s at times unintelligible drawl) but damn it this blockbuster beef jerky knows how to satisfy that hidden urge for high speed car crash entertainment.
The special effects are fine (if less polished than most $250 million movies!) but the joy of this formula is in the knowing delivery of its barmy set pieces that are bigger than ever here. As the years pass, each entry thrives on going bigger and crazier, and those critics tearing the film apart for its largeness are arguably as baffling in their criticism as those marking the film down for being all about muscular guys and gals in muscle cars. It is what it is and knows what the audience wants. Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gray directs a big name cast doing ludicrous things behind a wheel and he does it with audacious blowy uppy flair avoiding the incomprehensibility of some action scenes in Bay's Transformers movies.
However the biggest joy one takes from this metal crunching carnage is in seeing the cast loving every minute in their parts. Slowly but surely Diesel’s Dominic Toretto has become one of the series’ more bland characters and here they at least make his “family” schtick mean something more, however once again it is the surrounding gang who excel and excite more. At this point Dwayne Johnson is this franchise and, as human tank Agent Hobbs, is the charismatic macho hero that has immediate sparkle with all his co-stars. Tyrese Gibson is consistently funny as Roman, while Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel as Tej and Ramsay are less showy but effective, just like franchise regular Michelle Rodriguez who does what she does once again as Dom’s wife Letty.
No doubting though, this is Statham and Theron’s show, The Stath showcases his under-appreciated onscreen comic click (showcased to the max in Paul Feig’s Spy) as he returns as Deckard Shaw. A climatic airplane action scene alone shows why Statham is a modern action icon with legitimate screen presence. Meanwhile Theron drips venom as the intelligent, malicious and near unstoppable villain Cipher, complete with a knockout plan and some dark philosophies. In fact ass kicking ladies are fast becoming the MO of this series and it is once again the case here (hell, an early scene sees Hobbs threaten to unleash his daughter’s school football team on a fellow agent), especially as a big name Oscar winning actress relishes a surprise turn in the film that is so mad it is like a hilarious meeting of The Godfather and Eastenders.
All in all, Fast and Furious 8 is ridiculously large and largely ridiculous and it sure as hell knows it and it's to this series’ credit that it continues to successfully exceed the boundaries of its own preposterous enjoyment.
FAST & FURIOUS 8 / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: F. GARY GRAY / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS MORGAN / STARRING: VIN DIESEL, DWAYNE JOHNSON, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, JASON STATHAM, CHARLIZE THERON, TYRESE GIBSON, CHRIS ‘LUDACRIS’ BRIDGES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 7/10