STARRING: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Elsa Pataky, Kristofer Hivju and Charlize Theron
When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.
When Dom and Letty are on their honeymoon in Cuba, Dom is approached by a mysterious woman who somehow manages to turn Dom to betray his family. Forced to team up with Mr. Nobody and Deckard Shaw, the team face trials that will test them as never before.
How far we’ve come after the original film back in 2001 which was essentially Point Break with cars. Fast & Furious 8 aka Fate of the Furious has us following Dom and Letty on their honeymoon in Cuba when Dom is approached by a mysterious woman named Cipher who somehow manages to twist Dom’s on to betray his family, which puts them on a path to bring down the man that brought them all together in the first place. The film is carrying on without one of its main leads in Paul Walker and is behind helmed by a fresh pair of eyes in F. Gary Gray and while the franchise was starting to reach ridiculous levels in terms of storytelling and action sequences, it managed to not go overboard to a certain degree by maintaining its audience. When the first trailer dropped I thought that they would be pushing the ridiculous levels of action a bit too much and unfortunately coming out from the film I still thought that way coming out.
The films opening scene in Havana, Cuba is absolutely gorgeously shot and it maintains the tradition of including a street race to remind you of the franchises roots even though its become somewhat of a spy-action-ish franchise as of late and it had me invested with what was happening on screen. The action sequence involving the submarine in the final act along with the car chase on ice I liked the way that was mostly done and as it goes for the New York city sequence, I enjoyed the practical use of the cars being ‘hacked’ and dropped upon the streets from a car park. There’s action sequences involving Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham escaping from a prison riot and one involving Statham on a plane that is a massive Hard Boiled homage that I must say I was thoroughly entertained by them both. Basically Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are the highlights of this film, particularly when they share scenes together. Vin Diesel brings something new to his performance here as Dom and you can tell that he has love for this franchise and his reasoning for betraying his family is something that I never considered and while I’m sure some were thinking it would be brainwashed or mind controlled, the actual reason makes perfect sense for the character. Kurt Russell once again is solid as Mr. Nobody, providing comedic balance to how bizarre the whole situation is in this film as the team have to go up against the tag team of Cipher and Dom. In terms of villains, Charlize Theron is one of the better ones in the Fast & Furious franchise and shines in a few certain scenes her character has. There’s a few cameos here and there that I enjoyed during the course of the film.
While there’s elements of fun and enjoyment to be had, I can’t help but feel letdown by the overall product. While the two big set pieces, New York car marathon and Russian Submarine, are entertaining to a certain degree until they completely overstay their welcome. While the car’s being hacked and dropped from the car park looks cool, the ones on the streets that pile into each other and the target Cipher has picked….the CGI for it doesn’t look so solid for me and it reminded me of the cartoon-ish levels of that final act in Fast & Furious. For me I was enjoying the film up to the point of the prison riot and after that the story and structure just goes stale quickly for me. The dialogue here, written here from Chris Morgan who has penned the films since Tokyo Drift, for some of the cast and in particular Charlize Theron is just weak for them to handle. Even some of the characters now are becoming parodies of themselves, from Luke Hobbs as a football (soccer to some of you) coach for his kids team to Roman Pearce’s shrieking dialogue, that may be an issue for some people. As for the directing from F. Gary Gray for the most part I think he done fine here, granted I have a few issues on the editing side of the action sequences and the fast cuts which were a problem in Furious 7 have carried over here and now there’s too much slo-mo/normal speed moments for my liking. While I enjoyed Statham’s performance here, the one issue I had throughout the film and its conclusion is the teams reaction around him. This is a man that killed one of their own not so long ago in Han and is it ever referred to? You bet your ass it ain’t! It amazes me that a franchise part so much effort to create continuity and even make Tokyo Drift fit into the timeline that they have breezed past a pretty significant moment in the franchise and basically decided to play it as a ‘water under the bridge’ moment. I know it seems odd of a franchise of ridiculous action sequences that would give physicists a headache that this is the biggest issue I took from the film besides its script.
The film goes bigger but bigger doesn’t always make things better and unfortunately that’s the case with Fast & Furious 8. It opens strong and once the prison scene happens, the film nosedives for me until the submarine sequence in the final act. The script is weak here, arguably its weakest yet in terms of dialogue especially and continuity involving Statham’s Deckard Shaw. Granted in terms of performances I thought Vin Diesel was decent at trying something different as Dom but Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham absolutely steal the film with the scenes together especially. Admittedly the franchise has stalled for me by going for the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ side of go big with no consequence for everyone here but at this rate of where we are in the franchise, the only way that could work is if they took it down a gear….which I don’t see happening. 5/10