Fast & Furious 8 Review: Comedy Overthrows Action
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood
Running Time: 136 mins
Release Date: 12/04/2017
In the 8th (that’s not a typo) addition to the Fast and Furious franchise, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS sees Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto betray his crew, or better known as his ‘family’ – something which will leave a bitter taste as the importance of family has always been integral to the films – when his honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is interrupted by the villainous hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron). With Dom supposedly gone rogue, Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) assisted by Agent Luke Hobbs (Scott Eastwood) recruit his crew to hunt him down, alongside nemesis Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). But what does Cipher have on Dom to make him turn his back on his family? Coming up with potential reasons for his disloyalty adds to the films appeal, but it does make you wonder why he wouldn’t just tell them instead of almost killing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) by running him off the road.
This is the first Fast and Furious film entirely without the late Paul Walker, and his character is laid to rest in a brief conversation as Letty urges the crew not to drag Brian and Mia into finding Dom. But his presence is still felt in a touching tribute during the film’s final scene when Dom names his baby Brian, cementing Walker’s permanence in the family.
The Fate of The Furious opens with a throwback to the earlier films with Dom on the streets of Havana, music blaring and surrounded by cars and scantily clad women. He finds his cousin in the middle of a dispute, and of course the only solution is a race. Suffice to say Dom wins, even with his car on fire. With a flock of children surrounding him in celebration and a cheesy line about winning respect, we’ve really got ourselves a Fast and Furious film.
Helen Mirren made a bold statement two years ago in an interview with Yahoo! Movies, when she claimed “I’ll be in Fast and Furious 8.” The Oscar winning actress revealed it was her great ambition to be in a Fast and Furious film, partly because of her fondness for Diesel, but also because she wanted to be a “mad driver”. While she achieved her goal, it was certainly not in the driving seat. Instead, we’re first introduced to her character in a bar where she’s, in typical British fashion, drinking tea during a secret rendezvous with Dom, garnering laughs with her cockney accent which felt a little try hard. Mirren’s scenes were brief, but enjoyable, especially with son Shaw where his “mummy’s boy” side was revealed when she urged him to bring his brother along on the mission and then faked tears to get her way.
Statham is a well-received comeback and stands out as the anti-hero Deckard Shaw – even though Dom seemed to have forgotten what he would do to him in Fast and Furious 7 for killing Han: “Words ain’t even been invented yet.” In one of the most amusing and impressive action scenes, Shaw takes out a plane of Cipher’s men while protecting and reassuring a baby in a carrier seat. Other than themes of family and brotherhood, the Fast and Furious exercises competitiveness and masculinity which Statham and Johnson have in spades as the film’s comedic double act – usually upheld by Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as the squabbling Roman and Teg – endlessly hurling insults at each other even from within the confines of opposite prison cells. It is these comedy moments which allow the films to endure.
Although not my favourite Fast and Furious film, the ability each one has to create fresh action scenes, like Cipher overriding cars on the streets of New York, cannot be denied. Are they more thrilling than previous action sequences? I’m not so sure. But the fact that there are two more films in the pipeline proves the longevity of the series, that there is still more to tell. Which raises the question: what’s next?
FAST & FURIOUS 8: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS opens in theaters on Wednesday, April 12.
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