Fast & Furious 8
(original title: The Fate of the Furious) (12A)
Universal Pictures Int (UK)
F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriquez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Jason Statham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky
Release Date: 12th April 2017
While Dom and Letty enjoy a deserved holiday break they are confronted by a mysterious woman who is determined to draw Toretto back into a life of crime and compel him to betray those closest to him. The team reforms to stop them before they cause global destruction and bring Dom home to his family once more.
‘We’re going to need a bigger truck!’ – Hobbs
Hitting all the right notes from after a sixteen-year-spanning story is never going to be easy but the Fast and Furious franchise has beaten all the naysayers to deliver more and more high-octane and nigh-otherworldly stunts and drama. Furious 7 closed the book on a massive chapter of the story after the untimely passing of Paul Walker but this next stage continues to fuel our hearts with souped-up cars, brings us endearing dialogue between the characters, and spontaneously blows everything up from trains to trees into thin air. All worthy call-backs to the original movies. Locations and settings are both exquisite and urban, ranging from Cuba to New York, to barren tundra regions. It’s a solid effort by director F. Gary Gray to keep the franchise alive after all this time.
Ah, Havana. The tropical island of the mambo, white beaches, Mojito’s and Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymoon. Yet, in almost no time, Dom is up to old tricks, doing what he does best; racing. The famous hot-girls-dancing and street-race-bets-and-all scene quotas are aptly filled, and abandoning the laws of physics is just as enjoyable as ever, and even truer to tradition for this series.
Dom shortly encounters Cipher (Charlize Theron) who wastes little time establishing herself as the big bad of the story. She launches straight into manipulating him into working for her and is shown to be cold, seemingly all-knowing and set on achieving destruction, pitting Dom against his family breaking the lines of love and loyalty seen and made throughout the series. It is an interesting choice and one that has been criticised by fans, for Dom to just submit and be completely in her service, and aid her in causing sizeable havoc. Whatever floats his boat.
Returning for the ride are major players: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), and the diminutively-titled Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), a name that echoes soundly to another man with no name or identity. Eastwood has an immediate on-screen chemistry with the cast, making him a welcome addition to an already lengthy roster. Following the team’s induction into the upcoming mission, Cipher’s intentions are explored in detail, and we are treated to more wicked car stunts, witty back-and-forth quips, and plenty of explosions. Everything shifts into gear and everyone can finally act on the drives set out at the start of this ride.
Dom’s rogue behaviour has a noticeable impact on the team, and Letty is visibly affected most of all due to their turbulent and emotional history. Walker’s absence is distinctly felt, but this leaves more room for the other characters and the remaining team’s dynamic is strong enough to hold up. Deftly returning to the fold the brute Deckard (Jason Statham) in what seems to be a slightly casual way considering what destruction he has gleefully left in his wake. Nonetheless, the circumstances apparently call for it in light of Cipher’s menace.
Cipher is a satisfying villain, complete with cryptic dialogue and enough exposition to paint her as a completely detached psychopath. Though we get a few monologues from her of what she believes in they are a little drawn-out and slightly out of place for a movie where the focus is how fast the cars are. Is an actual story not welcome here?
The team continues to go after Dom and Cipher, and some mildly painful pseudo-jargon is thrown around by ridiculous-looking computers, but it is all done so fast you almost do not notice it. The biggest reveal is pretty surprising but heartfelt and touching and we are reminded that above all, family is king. It is a little questionable how Toretto actually applies this belief following the big revelation.
In a typically climactic showdown, that takes place in the urban jungle that is New York City, the team confronts Dom, which is arguably the best set of action sequences yet. It is also where we meet Magdalene (Helen Mirren) who adds yet more humour and charm to an already charismatic team. Cipher, and consequently Dom, begin to carry out their dastardly plan, but it’s clear that they are not partners.
There is a real sense of danger as the movie temporarily becomes “Fast and Furious on Ice” (ITV take note), with plenty of both wide-spanning car chases and close-up encounters. The theme of family comes back stronger than ever through multiple characters’ arcs. Again, Walker is missed and you feel the weight of his absence one final time in yet another memorable scene.
Here, there is a greater focus on the relationships within the team than previous instalments and portrayed with depth and determination by a cast that know what revs the engines of these films. All credit goes to the writers for revealing this key aspect after so long. Alas, it does not have a Ferrari crashing through three skyscrapers, but it does have a nuclear submarine, a weaponised wrecking ball, and the nightmarish takeover of NYC using ‘zombie’ cars. And who doesn’t love a zombie-anything these days?
Rating: 8 out of 10