After scoring an international hit with xXx sequel, The Return of Xander Cage earlier in this year, Vin Diesel is back on the big screens, this time with the eigth instalment to his other popular franchise, The Fast and the Furious.
This time round, the film begins in Havana, Cuba where we see retired racer Dom (Dominic) Toretto (Vin Diesel) and wife Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) enjoying their honeymoon. It is not long until Dominic has to race against a local mobster while having to avoid deliberate obstacles and having to ensure that his car does not overheat and explode with him in it, when using a deadly Cuban nitro oxide to help boost his speed.
The real fun begins when we see Dom first falling into a trap set up by up by high-tech, cyberterrorist Cipher (played enchantingly by Charlize Theron with dreadlocks). Cipher manages to blackmail and force Dom to turn on his team while helping DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and with the team on a mission stealing an electromagnetic pulse device from a millitary outpost in Berlin. Hobbs gets arrested and ends up in the same high security prison as his arch-enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The two of them become neighbours while in prison and get to throw witty verbal insults at each other with Deckard even referring gesturing to Hobbs using a very vulgar and common, cockney word. Meanwhile Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) has intentions for both of them to join forces and, with the rest of the team in order to go after Dom.
This time “there are no rules” as Mr Nobody states and the same should be said for the plot. We see certain characters such as Deckard, changing sides and suddenly becoming one of the good guys. The film does try a little to explain why, as we learn through conversations between Hobbs and Deckard that Deckard was previously a war hero and that Cipher is also an enemy of his. The tone of the film changes as we are made to believe certain events happened in between parts six and seven resulting in Dom having to save significant character from previous parts as well as a additional family member.
Also on board for the ride this time is Eric Reisner (Scott Eastward, Clint’s son, in case you did not know). Eric is a Law Enforcement Agent working under Mr Nobody who assists the team, at first trying to make the team stick to the rules and then, when realising that this strict strategy does not work, lets the team do what they do best, improvise. There’s a few winks and nudges from the film such as Scott’s character being referred to as a “Rookie” and being told to “saddle up”.
New to the franchise is Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set it Off, The Italian Job) who manages to use his own directing skills for the constant, witty one liners being thrown around by the characters who are supposed to be dealing with the shock of their friend and team leader going rogue and also as they struggle not to get killed in the various car chases. In one scene we even see multiple driverless cars being driven by remote control by Cipher and used as weapons. Also the twists we see in this unravel in this film just about manage to overwrite what happened in the previous instalments in an entertaining way as with previous parts.
In true Michael Bay-esque style the film also features a submarine taking part in a car chase and the graceful Helen Mirren features in a cameo playing Deckard’s mother, first talking in a hillarious over-the-top, Hollywood cockney accent to Dom a while drinking her “cuppa” and then later giving Deckard a Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrles-style lecture on how to be a good son. And in the finale we get to see homages to Lock Stock as well as John Woo’s Face/Off.
In a decade of sequels, reboots and remakes, The Fast and the Furious franchise shows no signs of slowing down yet. Packed with the usual exagerated car action scenes, sharp one liners and a finale that will make part’s 6 airplane on a never-ending runway finale sequence look tame.