‘Original Films’ pops up on screen during the opening credits, which raises a chuckle, considering the irony of producing a series which is pretty much the same every movie! We’ve now arrived at the 8th chapter of the highly successful ‘Fast’ universe, a film that is guaranteed to be a success from a box office perspective regardless of reviews, but how does it compare to the previous 3 movies in the rebooted series?
As the trailers have already revealed, the whole angle of this film is that ‘family man’ Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has betrayed his team, and now working for a shady criminal syndicate. It’s down to his former team to pursue our rogue hero and bring him in, their greatest challenge yet.
Due to the loss of Paul Walker, and the plotline removing Dom from the team, the film has to add a few more faces to our crew in order to hunt down their former team leader. This leads to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) & Shaw (Jason Statham) who aren’t on the best of terms to say the least after Fast 7, having to team up and help hunt down Dom. These two are by far the best parts of the film, when their not trying to beat each other to a pulp, their exchanging constant verbal putdowns! The chemistry between the two is excellent, and hopefully we can see more of the two as more central figures in the future! Statham is clearly having a blast here, and the producers must have seen his hilarious performance in Spy, and let him loose with his comedic talents! Though the story really doesn’t go into the previous history between Shaw and our crew, he has killed one of their friends, and tried to kill another with a bomb, thought the team show initial resistance on working with the guy, their pretty much OK with it a few scenes later!
The rest of the team seem like their suffering from series fatigue, and the lack of Brian (Paul Walker) definitely hurts the teams’ dynamics. The addition of a new character is a clear attempt at trying to replace him, but it’s a generic character with no real likable qualities. Members such as Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) & Roman (Tyrese Gibson) are charming as always, and their interactions always raise have the audience laughing, but it feels like the same thing from past movies, with Roman constantly dropping one-liners and really adding nothing at all to the plot anymore, and it’s a real surprise he hasn’t died from all his misdemeanours that he causes.. Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is supposed to be one of the top hackers in the world, barely features, and spends most of the movie looking clueless; an odd decision considering the main villain of the movie is a hacker! You would think she would take centre stage in a situation like this, not play second fiddle to tech guy Tej! Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) really offers nothing here, apart from being able to take a level of physical punishment that she really shouldn’t be able too! Her story arc had finished a while ago, and really should be dropped when Fast 9 comes around.
Then again, the core of this movie isn’t the characters, but the action! This is where it delivers the outrageous stunts that’s the series is well known for! The climax of the movie is a totally stupid showdown vs a nuclear submarine, on ice! Pretty much Die Another Day on a much more insane level! Only the Fast franchise could make something like that look believable! The set piece in Manhattan is also wonderfully done, and while it’s visually amazing to see hoards of cars being used as a stampede, it also taps into the fear of what can be hacked nowadays. You also have the sheer over the top street race in which Dom, in a car on fire, beating the fastest car in Cuba, but hey, we don’t expect anything less!
The Prison break scene is thoroughly enjoyable, once again, with Hobbs & Shaw stealing the spotlight. As intense as the action is, is feels abit formulaic, and nowhere near as unique as scenes in Fast 7, such as the cars flying through skyscrapers in Dubai! The movie does all the things it does well in, comedy, action, a slick presentation and comic book characters, but really does not offer anything new at all.
Toretto is also ridiculously overpowered here, sure he has the main character shield, but he manages to escape every scenario and win every battle, he isn’t a soldier or a spy, his just a normal guy. This isn’t Vin Diesel playing Xander Cage, but Dom, a retired aging criminal. The film also doesn’t explain why these guys are the best to take down Dom, any half decent special ops team could do a better job, but we get to see an orange Lamborghini!
The editing of the movie is odd to say the least, there is one scene, where the crew are planning their mission, and appear to turn towards the camera in response to a door opening, and it then cuts to Cipher walking on her plane. For a moment you think Cipher has walked in on the team, before realising it was cutting to a totally different scene! It’s just something that stuck out to me!
Unlike prior movies, Fast 8 does get very dark, especially with the scenes between Dom, and our cyber hacker antagonist, Cipher (Charlize Theron). These scenes seem very out of place though, in a movie which is pretty much ‘popcorn action’. Without going too much into spoilers, Cipher does well in showing why Dom turns, but at the same time, feels like a totally different movie. Theron is great as the ice cold, calculating villain, and is a stellar addition to the ever growing list of characters to the lore! The film also has a few cameos from faces from past movies, which is a wonderful fan service, and Helen Mirren is a riot as the mother of Shaw in the few scenes she appears in!
If you’re a fan of the franchise, this movie is another welcome addition to the juggernaut that this series has become. But it does feel like that there has to be some changes in the formula, especially with the main crew, if the films want to avoid getting stale. They would do well to move the spotlight off Vin Diesel and his inner conflicts, and more towards Hobbs & Shaw!