Fast and Furious 8 April 12, 2017 FAST & FURIOUS 8 (USA/12A/136mins) Directed by F. Gary Gray. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron. THE PLOT: While on honeymoon in Cuba, Dom (Vin Diesel) meets the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron) who forces him to work for her, and turn against his family and crew. The crew, including the newly added Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are not about to accept Dom’s change of loyalty easily, and set out to find out just what Cipher is up to, and the hold she has over their friend. THE VERDICT: It is hard to imagine a world without ‘Fast and Furious’ films at this stage of the game, since we are now facing the eighth film in the franchise. Once again, the world of the film feels very far removed from the one we find ourselves living in every day, and edges closer and closer to being like a Bond film of years gone by. Most of the cast we know and love – or hate – are back for this new instalment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, including Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez and Elsa Pataky. These familiar faces are joined, this time out, by Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and Scott Eastwood. Each of the cast do fine in their roles, but it is newcomers Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren who suffer the most throughout the film. Mirren is struggling through a horrific Cockney accent throughout her few short scenes, and Charlize Theron never manages to get the campy intensity of the film quite right. Veteran ‘Fast and Furious’ screenwriter Chris Morgan returns for this new instalment of the franchise, and plays with the characters and their relationships throughout the film, while making sure that the late Paul Walker is remembered in the film. The vehicle chases throughout the film are completely over the top and Morgan makes sure that the bar is definitively raised for the rest of the franchise to come. As director, F. Gary Gray makes sure that the pace of the film is high from the opening segment of the film, where Diesel drives a burning car backward through the streets of Havana to win a race. There is not much character work done throughout the film, but the set pieces are utterly over the top, silly and actually, a lot of fun. The locations – including Havana, Berlin and New York City – look fantastic, the theme of family is front and centre throughout the film, and even though, at over 2 hours long, ‘Fast and Furious 8’ is not brief, it is never boring. In all, ‘Fast and Furious 8’ is a high octane, over the top and fun film, and it fits in well with the rest of the franchise. The newer actors to the story struggle to fit in with the campy feel created by the others, but it is always a delight to watch Dwayne Johnson be ridiculous on screen. Fans will be delighted, newcomers to the franchise will be lost, but if it is car chases and over the top action you are looking for, ‘Fast and Furious 8’ is the film for you. RATING: 4/5 Review by Brogen Hayes filmbuff2011 If we rewound to 2001, would original The Fast & The Furious director Rob Cohen have imagined that his funky street-racing original could have spawned so many sequels? Perhaps not. But yet, here we are with the eight installment. After the enjoyable last three films though, it looks like the motorhead franchise is definitely leaking petrol and running out of ideas. Dom (Vin Diesel) is hanging out in Cuba with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). When not street racing to improve his street cred with the locals, he runs into Cipher (Charlize Theron) whose car needs fixing. In the space of a minute, she applies some leverage on him. She’s a cyberterrorist who has a particular agenda and this involves roping Dom into her scheme. Dom soon turns to the Darkside, going against his family in a plot to steal nuclear warheads. Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) is interested in Cipher, so he assembles the team of Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsay (Natalie Emmanuel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to track Cipher. The team will have to fight fire with fire though, so this is where Deckard (Jason Statham) comes in. He wants payback against Cipher, so after some tensions with Hobb, the team gets used to being around Deckard on the basis of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Taking Dom and Cipher down will not be easy though, particularly with that personal angle… Let’s get the hard, painful part out of the way first. The plot of this film is frankly Ludacris. That’s nothing new in a sense, but this one really takes the biscuit. After spending seven fun films building up the idea of Dom as being the heart of this franchise, we’re supposed to accept his sudden move to being a rogue agent in the blink of an eye? There’s an explanation for this that becomes apparent later on, but it’s a hard one to swallow. Equally difficult to swallow are the motivations of Cipher, a cyberterrorist who really needs to rethink her strategy. There’s a fundamental flaw in her plan which you can see coming a mile off. It’s as if screenwriters Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson were faced with a blank page after the departure of Paul Walker (and thereby Brian) and struggled to come up with an idea that works as well as the previous three entries. There’s a lot of expectation riding on this franchise and it’s clear that not enough work was done on the script. Maybe it should have ended with the last one, which had a firm message about brotherhood and family. This eighth film feels like a betrayal of that principle. Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton), new to the franchise, fails to capture the acceptable balance of insane action and knowing humour that Justin Lin and James Wan achieved before him. A typical example of this is a scene in New York, where Cipher remote controls hundreds of self-driving cars just to get to a Russian diplomat in his bullet-proof car. Jack Bauer achieved something similar all by himself. The CGI in this chaotic sequence looks cut-rate as well. There is some good stuff in the film though, like the amusing submarine sequence and anything involving Johnson and Statham. If Diesel ever left the franchise (possibly due to his reported diva behaviour on set), then Johnson could support the franchise on his own broad shoulders. Statham gets some good laughs as well, as he riffs on John Woo’s Hard Boiled towards the end. However, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that Fast & Furious 8 is sputtering away to the finish line. Maybe Universal’s international branch should have stuck with the American title – The Fate Of The Furious. The writing may just be on the wall. ** emerb Director F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”) returns to action bringing us his first “Furious” movie, “The Fate Of The Furious”. Over the past 16 years, the “Fast and the Furious” franchise has undergone a remarkable transformation and Gray immediately puts his own stamp on this eighth film with exhilarating style. With every successive film, the box office and budgets have been growing enormously, adding more global locations, bigger set pieces, more elaborate stunts and more impressive casting as stars like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham came on board. It’s endured not only director and casting changes but also the tragic death of original star Paul Walker (who is alluded to in a nice way in this movie, ensuring that the loyal audience doesn’t forget the actor’s role in building the squad). This film is no different containing plenty of deafening car pile ups, mind-bendingly excessive stunts, plot twists and even introduces Oscar winner Charlize Theron as the villain and Scott Eastwood as a new team member. At its core, the broad themes of family, loyalty and brotherhood are a constant in this franchise and, for me, that’s what makes the whole enterprise work. The film starts with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) happily honeymooning in Cuba but sure enough, it’s not long before this domestic bliss is interrupted and Dom is street racing again. As soon as the engines have cooled, he finds himself ambushed by an old flame Cipher (Charlize Theron), now a mysterious global criminal and skilled hacker. She seems to have some sort of blackmail material on Dom, and she forces him to help her. This means he will have to go rogue and betray his own squad in the process. The US government in the form of Kurt Russell and sidekick Scott Eastwood step in and engage the Fast and Furious team. Their mission is to stop the evil Cipher procuring technology that will wreak worldwide havoc. In order to track down Dom, the team calls on the rogue assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham – who steals the film’s funniest moments). A prison break starring Shaw and Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a fantastic, action-paced sequence. Another phenomenal sequence sees an army of cars being driven remotely out of office windows and piling down onto the streets like rain, it’s ludicrous but just awesome. The movie climaxes with a typically elaborate showdown at a military outpost in the frozen Russian wasteland, and it features everything you want from a film like this: tanks and submarines, destruction and fireballs, nothing ever felt so ridiculous but that’s what this franchise thrives on. There’s no denying that The Fate of the Furious is a thrilling action-adventure which is by no means subtle but it’s just such a blast that it’s impossible not to enjoy. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do – make a hell of a lot of money while giving us a crowd pleasing rollercoaster ride where no car stunt is ever too nonsensical, no explosion too big and no stunt is ever too ludicrous. Gray is having such fun while mostly defying logic and physics. This film does a good job establishing its characters and their relationships to each other which is often a problem with big franchises where personalities get lost in the midst of the action. I like the distinction between the characters and the interaction between the cast members. Not just the great leadership from Dwayne Johnson or the brutal Jason Statham but even the more secondary characters like Tyrese Gibson‘s Roman, Ludacris‘ Tej Parker and Nathalie Emmanuel‘s Ramsey all have clear roles to play within the team. Helen Mirren, in a brief appearance, gives a delightful turn as a London mother-mobster and I’d like to have seen more of her. It’s both surprising and great that the most high-profile new additions are Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron as a key-coding sociopath complete with long dreadlocks, two women who are well able to hold their own against the men. I like that this film is lighter and funnier than some of the previous ones, a lot of that is down to the love-hate bromance between Statham and Johnson. I have no doubt that this movie will connect to existing audiences and perhaps even bring in some new fans. The sheer spectacle is so action-packed and with the host of famous names, this is by no means the last we’ll see of Dom and his crew, the box office will roar.