It is incredible how far The Fast And The Furious has come since 2001, the original film was basically a remake of Point Break but replacing cars and street racing instead of surfing. Since the 5th installment of this unlikely franchise the films have switched focus from street racing to a team who does the most outrageous tasks. This is a more insane Mission: Impossible now, except a lot more over the top and a touch cheesy. However this franchise has not failed to be entertaining and fun, and this 8th film keeps up that energy but it has reached a point where it might be just a little too goofy.
With the untimely death of Paul Walker during the filming of Fast 7 it seemed that there might not be much gas left in this tank. The dynamic that existed between Brian Paul Walker’s character and Dom played by Vin Diesel was the heart and soul of the franchise. They gave Walker a moving send off at the end of the film and gave Brian a fitting exit, it could have been left there. But with how much money the films have made, of course there was going to be another one. What could they do to change things up? Have our main boy Dom turn on his family!
A mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) shows up whilst Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are enjoying their time in Cuba and convinces Dom to turn on his family. While on a job to regain an EMP device with Dobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and crew Dom makes his move, takes the device and goes rogue. At a loss for what has happened the team try to work out why Dom has turned and what the EMP device is going to be used for. With the help of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new protégé Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) they figure out the woman is simply known as Cipher and she ties in with their past jobs. Can they stop her and get Dom back in time?
The story added a lot of intrigue by having Dom turn on his family, the people who he has fought for since the beginning. He is the most unlikely one to betray them so that element really worked well here. Having a puppet master of sorts pulling the strings made sense, and was perhaps a little too convenient for the plot. Linking her up to their past jobs was just the icing on the cake, however that allowed for them to bring in a new face to the team, and old foe in Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). That was a clever move, Statham was one of the best parts of Fast 7 and bringing in a former villain to help is always a fun one. There is no denying that the film has a stellar cast and everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time making it, but does that equate a good film? Yes and no, this one needed to be more grounded but instead it got to a point that it was too over the top. As much fun as it was the suspension of disbelief was very high.
Putting that aside this film delivers on what it promises, pure adrenaline and craziness. It is much better than Vin Diesel’s other big action film xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, it relishes in its goofiness and it has the benefit that we already know these characters so more time can be spent getting things done. F. Gary Gray knows action, and he certainly harked back to his work on The Italian Job and fit right into this world. This type of film is right up his alley and he did not hold back, his direction was spot on and it highlighted why people keep coming back to this series.
Our cast were as fun as always, with Statham stealing the show as Shaw, his chemistry and scenes with Johnson were some of the most entertaining. Charlize Theron was having a ball as Cipher, and while her role was incredibly silly she did add some credibility to it. Vin Diesel is Dom, this is his role and what we all think of when his name comes up. He was fine here again and it was refreshing to see him take on a lot more emotion at times. Tyrese Gibson was once again the weakest link and his performance was probably the worse he has done. Michelle Rodriguez was very good at Letty, one of her better outings as the character and the real heartbreak she shows for Dom’s action was well handled. Scott Eastwood and Kurt Russell were fine in their roles, Chris Bridges was once again entertaining and Nathalie Emmanuel was fine but her character didn’t pick up until later in the film.
There of course will be another film in the franchise but it really feels like it has run out of steam, after this where can they possibly go? There does not feel like there is anything new they could bring to the table, and this film highlighted that. As much fun as this film was despite its flaws, the steam was running out. It had a fitting ending and they could leave it as it is, but we know there are plans for another. Unless they can think of something new and unexpected this franchise will lose appeal with its fan base and sink. It might be time to spin off the series into the Dobbs and Shaw show, that would be a license to print money.