You’d be forgiven for thinking that an eighth chapter in any franchise would rest slightly on its laurels, perhaps going through the motions with little invention or urgency. Nothing could be further from the truth for Fast & Furious 8, or F8, or The Fate of the Furious (depending on where you watch the film in the world). After two very mediocre chapters in the action car series, Fast & Furious 8 is a stunning return to form that frequently leaves you breathless and in awe of what you’ve just witnessed onscreen.
First off, it has to be said that you must leave logic at the door. Sceptics need not apply, because the need for you to suspend your believe guarantees that you’ll enjoy this ride to the fullest. If you go in with an open mind, you’ll be rewarded with spectacle and action set-pieces that genuinely up the ante from what’s come before. Fast & Furious 8 delivers a memorable blockbuster experience that injects fresh new life into the series.
We join Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) enjoying life in Cuba, when a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up, forcing Dom to betray his family to steal an EMP device that could cause a war. With Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Dom’s old crew, including Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) tasked with finding him, they reluctantly team up with old adversary Deckard (Jason Statham) to track him down before Cipher can put her master plan into effect.
Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, Law Abiding Citizen) delivers his most accomplished work yet; really embracing what makes this franchise tick. Coupled with Chris Morgan’s involving screenplay, the two deliver a thrill ride that honestly delivers some of the most hair-raising stunts and spectacle that you’ve ever seen in a big budget movie. A sequence in New York which finds a series of electronic cars hacked and forced into a melee across downtown Manhattan is simply stunning. The finale in Russia, involving a hacked nuclear submarine, is relentlessly entertaining and even the opening street race in Cuba leaves you in no doubt that you are watching a streamlined Fast & Furious movie that has learnt from its past mistakes.
A film with such big ideas implements its very large cast exceptionally well too. There are a lot of faces in this movie, some are welcome franchise returns, some are surprise cameos and then there’s the principal cast, which is massive in itself. But Fast & Furious 8 manages to juggle all of these with remarkably astute awareness, giving the likes of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson plenty of room to shine. Tyrese Gibson is used to great comedy effect and you can always rely on Chris (Ludacris) Bridges to deliver some great one-liners.
Then there’s the inclusion of screen legend Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody, a government agent who kits the crew out with what they need to get the job done. He is supported well by newcomer Scott Eastwood as Little Nobody, a green agent who joins in the hunt. But without doubt, the films crowning glory comes in Jason Statham. Statham makes everything better… and the Brit action-legend delivers yet another scene-stealing turn that is full of exceptional action, sublime laughs and cool swagger. Helen Mirren is hilarious as Statham and Luke Evans mother and having Charlize Theron as the villain really helps the film out. She is excellent as a remorseless soul who provides a nice change of pace from the franchise villains of the past. The late Paul Walker is mentioned in the film too. His absence is certainly felt, but its admirable how they’ve removed his character from the equation in a way that makes narrative sense.
Fast & Furious 8 is a blistering action spectacular that’s relentlessly entertaining and extremely audacious in its implementation. It’s all bonkers of course, but undeniably entertaining all the same. Gripping, exhilarating and utterly intense from start to finish, this is a beautifully orchestrated medley of spectacle that’s doused in Diesel & filtered through Rock. Throw in a scene stealing Jason Statham and an icy cold antagonist in Charlize Theron and you have one of the best chapters in this movie franchise. Roll on Fast & Furious 9 and 10.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Elsa Pataky, Helen Mirren, Kristofer Hivju, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans Director: F. Gary Gray Writer: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by) Released By: Universal Certificate: 12A Duration: 136 mins Release Date: 12th April 2017