Franchises are funny things. The popular opinion is that the majority of films on at your local multiplexes are part of franchises, cinematic universes, sequels or reboots. Whereas the Bond series has evolved by having multiple actors playing the titular spy and a soft reboot, Fast & Fuiours franchise has evolved from its ‘cop on the street action/thriller’ origins, to being stupidly fun and very over the top entries which channel heist and spy capers. It’s safe to say this particular franchise has evolved while maintaining its aesthetics, and doesn’t look like it will run out of gas any time soon.
As such we have another entry titled Fast and Furious 8 / The Fate of the Furious / The Fateful 8 / Vin Diesel’s Driving Dchool Vol. 8. As you can tell I can’t take this review too seriously, and you shouldn’t take this film seriously either. I cannot stress how silly, cheesy and, as such, enjoyable this film is.
Without giving too much away Dom, (everyone’s second favourite bald action star, Vin Diesel) has retired from the world of crime and is currently on his honeymoon. He is then blackmailed into assembling his crew into taking one-last-job (insert sarcasm) by Charlize Theron’s Cipher, for which he betrays his ‘family’, leading to a far-fetched plot involving his crew, Diplomatic Security Service agent Hobbs (the best addition to this series and everyone’s favourite bald action star, Dwayne Johnson) and former enemy Deckard (Britain’s favourite bald action star Jason Statham, hmm, I’m seeing a pattern here…) hunting him down with the help of the US government, and at times it’s very Team America (2004).
The main villain is a cyber-terrorist (obvious by the name ‘Cipher’) and the film touches on this modern day threat and government surveillance, and surely has a thing against self-driving cars. But for those familiar with the franchise it offers very little new to the tried and tested formula, and it is obvious that the filmmakers have tried to surpass what has come before, by chucking as much as they can at this film to see if it will stick: and it has very stuck well.
It’s like a checklist of all that has been before and turned up a notch: masculine characters, quick edited car chases, one sided fist fights, plenty of well-placed jokes and one liners, crappy auto tuned hip hop (can someone please re-edit this film to Run The Jewels?), NOS, the word ‘family’ said numerous times, no regard to civilian casualties involved in the over the top and comical action set pieces, lots of amazing cars, booty, and what must be my favourite: the close up shot of a brooding man turning towards the camera.
We have the usual suspects doing what they do best and the screen time is fairly shared between all the stars. They all get their moments to shine and the chemistry on screen is great; no surprise as the majority of the cast has spent several films bonding. Also, without giving too much away (but no surprise to anyone) 66% of the bald leads become friends as the film progresses, and I would love to see them team up as part of the next film. I would also love to see a reappearance from one of the films’ surprise cameos, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Schwarzenegger turned up for a few corny one liners, or to rip a car in half in a sequel.
On the whole this film is stupid, playful and dumb: but to be honest it all works surprisingly well. This won’t be the last time I write this in my review but humans feel safe in their comfort zones, which is why franchises are appealing. But unlike many franchises the tried and tested formula of these films works well and I don’t foresee any problem with watching further entries as long as the overall quality of the fun and entertaining experience is still high.
This is a hard film to give an honest and overall score to as it’s stupid as hell, has some ridiculous moments, is filled with cheese, testosterone, corny dialogue and exposition scenes, and at a base level this can be justly perceived as a really bad film and another example of lack of originality in Hollywood. But I found it to be one of the most entertaining films I have seen in a while and was laughing throughout, which I firmly believe was the intention of the filmmakers.
A lot of critics have used the saying ‘cinematic escapism’ to describe this film, which is just another way of describing it as a ‘popcorn flick’, but it’s an apt description as many people can’t afford popcorn at the cinema these days. But it is a wonderfully stupid film which is a joy to watch and to be honest we all need a bit of a laugh and escapism these day, and what better place than in the cinema.
Overall Verdict: Fast and Furious 8 is a great example of the traditional summer blockbuster which reunites the crew for another over the top adventure. Thoroughly silly and entertaining throughout, and is definitely worth seeing if you are a fan of the franchise and fun action capers.
Reviewer: George Elcombe