It’s at this point that you remember where you are. The Fast & Furious franchise slipped past the point of self parody about three films ago (which was the one with the never ending runway?) and is all the better for it.
The trick to enjoying Fast 8 is to go in with the right mind-set. Do not, under any circumstances, take it seriously. If you expect the film to essentially be 28 Jump Street, you’re going to have a great time (take a look at the helicopter scene from 22 Jump Street below, at this point the action scenes in the Fast & Furious films are about the same level of ridiculousness).
In this latest addition the team faces they’re greatest challenge yet as Dom goes ‘rogue’. As always though the ‘story’ of the film is largely secondary as director F.Gary Gray (which can’t surely be a real name) lurches from insane action sequence to insane action sequence with little regard for those trivial things like logic, believability or character consistency.
As has been the case on a number of occasions in the long running series, the villain of the previous outing (Jason Statham) has now been completely forgiven and joins the ever growing family. Regardless of whether it makes sense or not, allowing Statham to stretch his comedic muscles is definitely playing to his strengths and his continuous back and forth with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs produces a few genuinely entertaining (if eye-rolling) moments.
Generally speaking the rest of the cast is on auto-pilot as they bassically play themselves. At any moment, Johnson could walk off set and continue his interview with Jimmy Kimmel without missing a beat.
There is one new cast member who sticks out like a sore thumb however, which becomes an even bigger issue as more and more of the cast start to resemble mumbling thumbs —
Charleize Theron is far too good an actress to be in this. As Fast & Furious 8’s bad guy she makes Vin Diesel, and everyone else in the room, look silly by comparison. That’s not to say she even gives a standout performance, but Theron phoning it in with some melodramatic dialogue is better than Diesel on his best day.
It’s in these scenes that the film gets close to taking itself too seriously, luckily though we’re never too far away from the physics defying, computer-generated madness that we paid our money for.
Fans of the series will be well served by the obligatory cameos, call backs and the return of the occasional loose plot thread. The filmmakers also dance delicately around the absence of the late Paul Walker, name dropping his character is a far better way of addressing the issue than simply never speaking of him again (The Dark Knight Rises went with the latter strategy in a similar situation, much to that film’s detriment).
For the rest of us (I wouldn’t really count myself as a fan) Fast & Furious 8 is more of the same and that’s fine. The franchise is essentially a fictionalised version of Top Gear. We’re watching a group of people who are having the time of their lives running around, driving expensive cars and blowing stuff up.
F8, like its predecessors, is a film that knows exactly what it is and who it’s for. In a year that has so far seen a couple of mis-judged re-imaginings (I’m looking at you Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell) that is definitely something to be admired.
Love them or hate them Toretto and the ‘family’ aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we may as well enjoy the ride.