Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron
The Fast & Furious franchise is unrecognisable from what it used to be. Yes, it’s still basically about fast cars, family and girls bottoms, yet nowadays, the franchise has more in common with the superhero genre, than its original B-movie car flick. The addition of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is partially the reason behind this. Ever since his introduction in Fast 5, the franchise has been revitalised and totally transformed. In my opinion, it’s ‘miles’ more entertaining today than it ever was, and Fast and Furious 8, a.k.a The Fate of the Furious (for some unknown reason) is the funniest film in the series so far, and arguably one of the most enjoyable.
Fast and Furious 8’s plot, for lack of a better term, is a pretty simple one. Whilst on his honeymoon in Cuba with his new wife Letty (Michell Rodriguez), Vin Diesel’s Dom Torretto is approached by Charlize Theron’s hacker extraordinaire, and all round dangerous chick, Cipher. We don’t quite know what she has on him, but it’s enough to make him turn against his team that has so willingly been referring to as ‘family’ for so many films. It’s up to the rest of the team, aided by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, who you’ll recall was the villain of the previous film, to hunt Dom and Cipher down, and put a stop to their devious ways.
I choose to make my own fate.
Despite Vin Diesel previously having been one of the main draws for the Fast & Furious franchise, what Fast and Furious 8 demonstrates is that it’s all about Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. The two of them work wonderfully together on the big screen. They have real chemistry, and share some testosterone-fuelled taunting. I also enjoyed watching their contrasting fighting styles. The Rock’s a behemoth of a man, and fights accordingly, whereas Statham is much more agile and technical. The prison breakout scene was a particular highlight for me, which really showcased their athletic and punching abilities.
Another scene I hugely enjoyed, and proved yet again in my mind that Statham is now one of the franchise’s main attractions, took placed near the end of the film and involved him on a plane, kicking, shooting and punching a bunch of bad dudes, whilst carrying an infant. I won’t go into more details for fear of spoilers, although I think I may have said too much already.
The only thing that matters is who is behind the wheel.
However, Fast and Furious 8’s standout moment, hands down, was getting to witness The Rock do the haka with a girl’s football team. I’ve waited a long time to see The Rock do the haka, and have him perform it alongside kids was a pure stroke of genius. It was hilarious and terrifying in equal measure. I used to play rugby, and I have no shame in admitting that if I ever saw The Rock do the haka with the opposing team, I would run away and hide, much like one of the girls did in the movie.
The film has two story arcs, which intertwine at different points. On one side we have Dom’s old team trying to track him down, and figure out why he’s turned on them, and on the other, we have Dom being forced to work for Charlize Theron’s Bond-like villain, Cipher. It was interesting to see Vin Diesel get to play with his character’s duality.
When the franchise started, Dom was a rogue and a pretty bad dude, yet we’ve seen him grow into a leader and a real family man. Here, Diesel gets to play with both sides of Torretto’s personality, and it really does pay off. There’s far more character development in this film than any other. There are times, where some of Diesel’s dialogue is a bit clunky, but that’s always been the case with Torretto, he’s a cheesy dude. However, Diesel also does some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from him in this franchise.
One thing I can guarantee… no one’s ready for this.
The only real problem I had with Fast and Furious 8 was that we didn’t get to see Charlize Theron’s Cipher in a car, and having seen her remarkable performance in Mad Max: Fury Road, we know how great she is behind the wheel. I’d also say, that despite delivering a fine performance, Cipher’s motives are a little bit hazy. That said, she is one of the more captivating villains in the franchise, and I hope to see more of her in the upcoming films; potentially in the Rock and Statham’s spinoff franchise, which I for one am excited to watch.
Another little gripe I had with Fast and Furious 8 was watching the hacking itself, yet this is a problem that comes up time and time again in Hollywood blockbusters. How can they accurately represent hacking on-screen? Some studio exec must have thought, “What do hackers do…? I got it! They type very fast. Let’s put that in the movie!” I’m no hacker myself, yet I’m certain that it’s not as easy as typing very fast for a few seconds.
I’m gonna knock your teeth so far down your throat, you’ll have to shove a toothbrush up your ass to brush ’em.
Apart from that, Fast and Furious 8 was highly enjoyable. I laughed more than I have done in the cinema this year, and I was entertained from start to finish. It’s the textbook definition of a popcorn flick. Leave your brain at the door, and simply enjoy what’s unfolding on-screen, at least, that’s what I did.
You can hear more of our thoughts of Fast and Furious 8 on this week’s episode of Small Screen’s Film Club.