The Fast and Furious franchise is an odd one in that as the films go on, the quality seems to improve. We generally associate sequels as not being able to reach the impact of the original in terms of originality and enjoyment. Yet with Fast and Furious, the opposite has occurred. Whereas films 1-4 are pretty dull and generic films, Fast Five was a huge surprise in how exhilarating it was. From then on, the self-realisation of how absurd this franchise was the key to unlocking the potential that Fast and Furious contains. And with Fast and Furious 8 crushing at the worldwide box office (almost at $1billion), the franchise seems to have no desire of slowing down. And that’s fine by me, because film is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining films of the year thus far.
The basic plot of the film is that Dominic Teretto (Vin Diesel) has gone rogue. After coming into contact with the mysterious Cypher (Charlize Theron), Dom shockingly turns his back on his family/crew, and it’s up to the team to stop Dom, whilst also trying to solve the mystery of what has occurred to turn Dom against them. With the help of members such as Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and former enemy Deckard (Jason Statham), an adventure of insane action set pieces are put in motion, taking us on an unimaginably ridiculous yet engaging journey.
The first point to mention is that if you’re looking for a realistic action film, this is not the film for you. The action in this film is preposterous in the best possible way, in that the filmmakers know that what they are making is an adrenaline filled fantasy, and that’s the best way to approach a film like this. The vibrancy and the boldness of the action of this film is a clear standout, whether it be the opening race sequence in Cuba, which is visually stunning, or a prison brawl involving Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Moreover, there is clear escalation in the craziness of the action, as the aforementioned sequences take place in the film’s first act. Without spoiling anything, nothing will prepare you for the thrilling scene that takes place midway in the film involving a humongous quantity of cars, as well as an incredible battle in icy Russia. Combined with some gorgeous establishing shots of the amazing locations that parallels the fantastical tone of the film, as well as some frantic paced editing that engages us in the furious nature of the film. I was laughing the entirety of the way through which may seem like a negative, as one may initially assume we are meant to empathise with the characters in this film. Whilst that may be the goal of the first entries in the series, here there is no sense of realism, and the film is a projection of a fantasy of frenzy fuelled action, which sparked a sense of joy whilst viewing the film.
Yes the story is ridiculous, with events taking place that are beyond the realms of reality. There are incredibly predictable plot points that I literally was saying to myself just before they happened. Yet a detailed and complex plot has never been the objective of this franchise. Yet what the later films realise is that by increasing the hysteria, we can forgive the flaws of the storytelling. Furthermore, when discussing the characters of the film, it’s an interesting concept to see the archetypal hero of Dom turn his back on the people closest to him. However, we learn very early on why he has, giving the film an unrestricted narration to give us an understanding of both Dom and the rest of the team who are unaware of the situation. There are some genuinely memorable performances from Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, who bring charisma that has become a staple of ‘The Rock’. The rest of the team give serviceable performances, with a welcome return of Kurt Russell as Mr Nobody. It was also intriguing to see Vin Diesel attempt a more emotional performance, which is respectable to see Diesel attempt to take the character that could be considered bland in a new direction. Cypher is a pretty boring villain in my opinion, and I couldn’t get on board with Theron’s performance. In a film that is so bizarre in its characters and situations, the contrast of Cypher’s seriousness didn’t work for me.
Despite this, a film should be judged on its own merits and whether it achieves its aims. Fast and Furious 8 is aiming to be an entertaining two hours with awe inspiring events that audiences are engaged and mesmerised by. And the film delivers on that and surpasses our expectations. So in that sense, watching this film was a sheer delight. Just don’t go into it expecting a hard hitting emotional drama. Go in expecting fun, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.
I give Fast and Furious 8 8 out of 10