Fast & Furious 8
The eighth film in the Fast and the Furious franchise provides the daft action sequences we've come to love, but Charlize Theron's unremarkable supervillain and an inconsistency in family values dampen some of the fun
There’s a funny bit of potentially intentional meta-commentary fairly early on in Fast & Furious 8 (titled The Fate of the Furious stateside). Charlize Theron’s cyber-terrorist Cipher tells Vin Diesel’s Dom that “this whole saving the world, Robin Hood thing you’ve been doing lately: it’s bullshit. It’s not you.”
It’s a valid point regarding the direction that cinema’s daftest mega-franchise has taken since it first revved into gear in 2001: from Point Break knock-off the first time around, to Ocean’s Eleven meets Bad Boys come the fifth entry, to the soap opera spy mayhem of this new instalment and the two preceding. Also, everybody seems to basically have superpowers.
Still, large-scale nonsense executed strongly and with glee has its pleasures, and those last few films have had their fun moments. This one has a few, too. Two of them come via Jason Statham – returning from villain duty on the prior film to aid in the hunt for Cipher – and, subsequently, Dom, who’s been blackmailed into betraying his makeshift family due to leverage the terrorist has on him (hint: the leverage also, unsurprisingly, involves family).
Statham – who, like Theron, is re-uniting with The Italian Job remake director F. Gary Gray – gets a solo action sequence that’s by far the most entertaining in the movie, and best left unspoiled. Meanwhile, a certain British thespian cameos as his mother (family), channelling Barbara Windsor’s Peggy Mitchell and dropping the best single f-bomb of any 12A-rated film in recent memory.
That being said, Statham’s Deckard Shaw is also tied to one of the reasons this new film feels lacking. As easy to make fun of as the series’ family mantra is, it’s a consistent through line that works; the heart behind the headlights. The sentiment is often stupid, but it feels sincere. So when Deckard is so easily accepted into the team after having murdered family member – and, for this writer, the best character of the series – Han (Sung Kang), while also trying to murder virtually everyone else in the last movie, it kind of makes you question the sincerity of that sentiment.
Among the other problems are too much visual clutter in many of the action scenes and, disappointingly considering the ‘Fast & Furiosa’ puns after she was cast, an uninteresting villain turn from Theron. But Deckard's welcoming into the fold ends up being the hardest pill to swallow – which is saying something in a film where thousands of hacked cars drive themselves, Vin Diesel passes through fire unscathed more than once, there’s a fight against a submarine, and someone suggests that the American and Russian governments wouldn’t be on speaking terms.
Fast & Furious 8 is released through Universal