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