Fast & Furious 8 – Film Review (The Fate of the Furious) – Review by Bridget Deevy
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson
For those of you who can’t believe there have been seven, yes SEVEN Fast and Furious films already, here’s a fun/terrifying fact; the first one came out 15 years ago, meaning there is a whole generation who have grown up with Vin Diesel racing, chasing and crashing cars around the globe, getting (metaphorically) high on his own supply of NOS, driving ever faster and furious….er(?) So, it’s probably not surprising then, that as the original audience now hits their 30s, this film sees the introduction of a game changing baby. Even the world of Fast and Furious can be thrown into chaos by a tiny human it would seem.
So, quick catch up. Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are married and are on honeymoon in Cuba, where Dom is entertaining himself by teaching the local heavy a lesson in humility, through advanced auto-repair and uttering lines like; “I don’t need to take his car, I’ve got his respect”. Interrupting this romantic, honeymoon scene comes super hacker, Cipher (Charlize Theron), an anarchist bent on stealing nukes and teaching the world a lesson – you know the type. Strangely for an anonymous, cyber villain, she decides to head on down to Cuba herself, (possibly to get her hair done – nothing says anarchy like a white person with dreadlocks), to take Dom over to the dark side. And so, the old gang must get back together again, (with a few side swapping changes), to embark on a globetrotting quest to bring their friend back from the clutches of evil.
If this sounds more like the premise of a hammy super hero film, that’s because; it kind of is. Fast and Furious 8 doesn’t obey the usual laws of physics or basic logic really. At one point Hobbs, (Dwayne Johnson), rips a concrete bench from a wall to, er, bench press, rubber bullets literally bounce off him at point blank range and he has no problem guiding a missile with his feet while hanging on to a car. It’s all delightfully silly. Most of the cast match their performances to this heightened tone, delivering their PG13 insults with arch sincerity: “I’m going to beat your ass like a Cherokee drum”. Helen Mirren even makes an appearance as a cartoon Cockney crim, with the ham-o-meter reaching dangerously high levels. While Charlize Theron does a great line in sociopath, her performance is almost too good. As her character, Cipher, orchestrates an epic set piece with auto-drive cars cascading from multilevel car parks and speeding in their droves towards the target, she earnestly tries to make the line “it’s zombie time” credible, when it is clearly trailer bait, a line that is meant to be punched home. If the acting is silly and the humour gentle, Fast and Furious 8 doesn’t hold back on the action, with set piece after set piece. Does any of it make sense, no, but when has that ever stood in the way of a good blockbuster? The final much touted scene, set on the Siberian ice, where the gang must bring down a nuclear armed submarine and save the world, is pure popcorn entertainment and will satisfy not only the droves of 14 year old boys going along to this at the weekend, but anyone in need of a bit of mindless distraction.
For all its silliness though, here’s an interesting thing about Fast and Furious 8 – it passes the ‘bechdel test’, just about. Letty and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), two named female characters, talk to each other, about something other than a man, (i.e. how long one can hold off an attacker while the other hacks into a submarine’s mainframe to deactivate a nuclear bomb – you know, girl stuff). Don’t get me wrong, there is still a veritable sea of gratuitous butt at the beginning of the film, however, there is something noteworthy about an ensemble cast featuring three female leads and four people of colour in a major, knucklehead, blockbuster franchise. The world of Fast and Furious 8 may be slightly bonkers, but I kinda like it.