It’s incredible to even fathom the sheer success that a franchise such as the Fast and the Furious could have ever become but here we are, an eighth instalment into the series and stronger than it has ever been. With the sad and rather poignant goodbye to series regular Paul Walker last time around, director F. Gary Gary takes the driver’s seat as events head to New York as one family member turns against those he holds dear in the face of a whole new villain on the horizon.
Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are enjoying their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba when a mysterious figure in cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) puts a devastating plan into motion that sees Dom turn against the one family he loves and go against his ideals. As the rogue leader of the group works with this newfound ‘ally’, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), along with his new rookie partner (Scott Eastwood), bring together those who have been betrayed to look to stop this pairing before a series of devastating events hits the globe. With tensions running high between Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and new group member Deckard (Jason Statham), along with Letty’s loyalty being tested, is this one mission too far for the Fast team?
For a billion dollar franchise that has reinvented itself and shattered all expectations through the years, we’ve all come to the realisation that the Fast and Furious series is pure, unadulterated entertainment. It makes no bones about delivering cheesy dialogue at times and an ultimately questionable plot, but it has always guaranteed to make you laugh, smile and want to fist pump your way out of the cinema – Fast and Furious 8 is no different.
Firstly, let’s get the minimal negative out of the way before the juicy bits. As mentioned, a wafer thin plot is often the driving force of these films, shifted to the side for those insane stunts and set pieces, with the eighth instalment nothing particularly different. Here we have a paint-by-numbers story that focuses on a figure looking to take control of dangerous weapons to no real endgame. It slightly renders the film a tad on the negative side, but let’s be honest, we’re not here for a convoluted plot that challenges us. That aside, Fast 8 shifts into gear after a surprisingly slow opening twenty and turns into a beast reminiscent of Dom’s muscle bound cars throughout this and the other series entries.
Packing about as much muscle in the literal sense as it does with the pure horsepower on show, this is yet another showcase of just how this franchise has come on in leaps and bounds. Providing breakneck race sequences with the slickest of camerawork and delivering pulsating thrills at a seemingly unrelenting pace, this is how a true blockbuster film should entertain.
Once we’re introduced back into the family, Fast 8 wastes little time in giving us what we desire. From an inventive race through Havana to open the film and speeding through a truly spectacular demolition derby around the streets of New York, F. Gary Gray’s work is ambitious and even pushes the boundaries for the most thrilling and satisfying moments of all the films so far.
You only have to witness the shock factor sight of a barrage of cars being controlled remotely on the NYC streets and barrelling through every corner to see that this film holds back nothing – and then to boot it starts to rain cars. If that wasn’t enough, the film’s Russian snow venture is nothing short of extraordinary and its scenes of combat – namely two standout Jason Statham-led instances of free-running and brutal fisticuffs in a prison and on a plane respectively – are enough to make the heart run wild.
Part of the charm of the series too is its high level of self-awareness, moving the business of stunning cars, beautiful locales and stunts with a level of humour, and Fast 8 delivers in aces. Whether Johnson’s quick quips fired at Statham’s Brit traits or Tyrese Gibson complaining that his Lamborghini can’t handle the ice, there’s eons of fun to be had. It also comes as no surprise that the film also packs some heart in there too, with a fleeting mention of a departed brother inevitable yet still touching, and a simple plot device delivering that continued theme of family as the series rallies towards its final two films.
Maintaining the tried-and-tested formula and upping the stakes to even higher levels, Fast and Furious 8 captures everything we want from a Fast film and injects pure adrenaline straight from the screen. The set pieces are outrageous and intense, the cast top-notch and the real sense of heart still present. With Theron the biggest badass villain of the series so far and Statham the clear MVP (including an inspired action set piece with a baby), this is the action blockbuster that goes full throttle and doesn’t let up.
Fast and Furious 8 is out in cinemas on 12th April.