The first in years not to star the late Paul Walker, Fast and Furious 8 continues the franchise’s trend of one-upping itself when it comes to implausible vehicular action – along with some pretty solid fist fights along the way.
Everything you love about the series is here: fast cars, references to “family”, Tyrese Gibson screaming. However, the film forgets its strengths as it gets tied up in misguided attempts at introspection with its new villain Cipher, a cyber terrorist, played by Charlize Theron.
As she’s pretty much locked away in a control room the whole film, and considering her work in Fury Road, it all feels like a missed opportunity. Instead of action, we get supposedly menacing analogies about how she’s the crocodile at the watering hole, or something.
F. Gary Gray, director of Straight Outta Compton and newcomer to the series, has trouble pacing the action, often taking his foot off the gas in the wrong places. Midway through the film, what could have been a bizarre and wondrously technophobic set piece – in which a fleet of unmanned cars is controlled by Cipher – falls flat due to this misjudgment.
This all isn’t to say the film is without its moments – after a prolonged sag in the second act of the film, there are flashes of that classic Fast and Furious madness: a submarine chasing a fleet of luxury cars, The Rock redirecting a torpedo with his bare hands, and one action sequence featuring Jason Statham even cribs directly from John Woo’s Hard Boiled. But it’s not quite enough for this middling entry in the franchise.
Fast and Furious 8 suffers from its choice to invest in a more psychological threat than the testosterone-fuelled rivals of films past – which are sorely missed. There are significant lulls in momentum which are not helped by F. Gary Gray’s inability to effectively stage action. Fast Five is still the best one.
CAST: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
WRITER: Chris Morgan
SYNOPSIS: When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, La Familia face trials that will test them as never before.