It’s quite remarkable the transformation that the Fast and the Furious franchise has undergone over the years. The first few were down and dirty racing films which ogled cars just as much as they ogled the women. And yes, they certainly ogled the women. And when the series was coming to a natural end, they got rebooted as heist movies with a focus on car chases which turned it from a mildly successful set of films into genuinely blockbusters which dominate whatever weekend they are released. But when you get the eighth film in a franchise, you have to do something special to keep the audience’s interest. Can Fast and Furious 8, also known as The Fate of the Furious, keep our eyes glued to the screen?
While Dom (Vin Diesel, xXx) is on his honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, Avatar), he is persuaded to switch sides and become a terrorist by hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road). Now as Cipher and Dom aim to gather as many weapons of mass destruction as possible, his crew must try and stop them and to try and turn Dom back to the good side.
So we’ve got to that part of the Fast and Furious franchise where the only interesting thing they can do is start turning members of the crew evil. We even have another villain turning good as Deckard (Jason Statham, The Transporter) because they haven’t dug far enough down that well yet. Now heel turns, considering the reason this website exists is because of wrestling news I might as well use their terminology, can be interesting if done right. Of course though this film can’t do this right as it submits to a fairly dumb blackmail plot line where the movie doesn’t even pretend to act like Dom has actually gone evil. In fact, the crew barely even contemplates the fact Dom might have gone evil. They discuss the fact this might have happened for a bit, but Letty just constantly says it’s not Dom and we just move on because everyone wants the charisma vaccum that is Michelle Rodriguez to shit up. So any dramatic stakes this sudden turn to the dark side could do doesn’t actually happen because the movie never follows through and acts like it could last longer than this film.
Now if you talk to fans of this series, they’ll tell you the reason they love it is because the films are deliberately silly and work more like B-Movies than regular blockbusters. For moments you sort of get this, usually when Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas) as Hobbs and Jason Statham interact with each other, but for the most part, this movie takes itself way too seriously. This is a movie that has deaths of characters which are meant to have devastation emotional impacts on our protagonists. This is a movie where the likes of Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are obviously trying to make it all seem so important, yet their talent deficiencies let them down. There are a few scenes which seem like they are from the movies the fans describe, and they are the best scenes in the movie, but for the most part this is a very serious movie which doesn’t actually realise how stupid and clichéd everything it’s doing actually is.
Can we at least get some solid action scenes out of this? Well apart from a frenetic action scene in a prison, ruined by an incredibly annoying song, and a stupidly fun one involving Jason Statham and a baby, no, no we can’t. It’s ironic that the basic fight scenes are actually much better than the car chases considering what this franchise is built on, but that’s where we are. Everything involving a car in Furious 8 looks incredibly fake like it only ever existed in a computer rather than actually happening. and what’s shocking about this is that I know they did shoot some of these scenes for real. There is a scene which involves a lot of cars being driven out of a multi story car pack. I actually saw a video of this being filmed on social media and it looked really awesome, so even though the rest of the film had sucked until this point I was really looking forward to it. And even though it was very real, the film managed to make the Great Gazoo look more real. Seriously, this is absolutely shocking and every action scene is the pits because of it. Also, if the submarine chase is meant to be Fast and Furious’ reply to Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s the most pathetic imitation since Lidl’s own brand of coke.
In terms of the characters throughout Fast & Furious 8, it’s just another bland fest. I’ve mentioned that both Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are terrible and have less personality than a garden fence, but it’s not like anyone else is much better. Scott Eastwood (Gran Torino) is in this film apparently, though even though IMDB says he is in this movie I don’t quite believe it as I can not remember any scene he was in. Ludacris (The Hangover) makes a similar lack of impact. You certainly remember that Tyrese Gibson (Transformers) is in the movie as he spends two hours shrieking, making the idea of perforating your own ear drums seem more and more appealing by the minute. And Charlize Theron gives a career worst performance in her role as the villain and yes I do remember that she was in Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s really that bland and boring with the only memorable thing being that she sports some very regrettable white girl dreads at the start.
I have been touching on this slightly throughout the movie but there are some bright moments and they all revolve around Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson. These two are smart guys and have seen the script to Furious 8 and they know it has as much worth as soiled underwear. But they know they are very charismatic actors and realise that if they overact as much as possible in their scenes, they might be able to make the poor sods in the audience smile at least once or twice. And they do. Their scenes aren’t amazing because they still have to work with a rubbish script, but they squeeze as much as they can out of it. As we are doomed to get more of these films, can we at least get a spin off with just these two? Because then we might get at least one good film out of all of this.
Fast and Furious 8 is a lie. Many will tell you it’s a fun movie which is self-aware and knows it’s very silly and that you can enjoy it for what it is. But it’s not that, it’s the exact opposite. Furious 8 is a movie which takes itself too seriously and thinks that it is an emotional rollercoaster which is just as good on the character side as it is the action. I suppose they are correct on this last thing as the complete lack of character is matched by the incredibly fake action scenes which will manage to reduce your pulse rather than raise it. Yes, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson are fun but you can see them be fun in many other movies. Instead, ignore this family as this is the sort of family that plays German rave music at 3am and then has bonfires when you try to dry your washing. A family to have stern words with then.