Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

2:27 PM

Family no more. 
This review contains Spoilers
 Fast & Furious 8 is directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job) and stars Vin Diesel (xXx, Riddick), Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas, Moana), Jason Statham (Spy, Snatch), Charlize Theron (Snow White & The Huntsman, Mad Max: Fury Road), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, Machete Kills) and the rest of the gang along with a surprising new addition, Helen Mirren (The Queen, The Hundred-Foot Journey). "When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before". Furious 7 ended on such a poetic and beautiful note - is this new chapter going to ruin everything or will it open a new world that is filled with excitement?

Furious 7 was one of my favourites of 2015 and out of the four Fast & Furious films I have now seen (5-8), I have to say, Fast 8 is possibly the weakest. However, that is by no means an insult to the film as 5&7 are films I thought were very good, 8 is just behind 6 (also good) and if I see it again, it could easily switch places with 6. I had mixed feelings towards the film from the trailers as I thought the franchise could have finally reached the status of being plan stupid. However, even thought the stakes are higher than before in Fast 8 and some of the action sequences are unbelievable, Fast 8 is exciting and satisfying. This is just more of the same so I think fans of the franchise will love it. 

The plot for the film is very different compared to what the Fast & Furious started out as - even though I haven't seen the first few, I know they were all about street racing and were pretty grounded. However, Fast 8 is all about cyber activity and the world of hacking - in some ways, the cars aren't central to the plot and almost take a backseat. Just like Dom goes rogue in the film, I think this film goes rogue to what the franchise is all about. However, it also kind of works - they tied Furious 7 up so beautifully and tastefully, it would have been awful to see them continue directly from then. Things changed with Fast 8 and a new chapter has begun - the world of hacking. I thought the film utilised hacking very well within - Charlize Theron's Cipher is genuinely dangerous and the technology she plays with is pretty scary. One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was why Dom goes rogue and turns on the team - Cipher has kidnapped his son - a son he hadn't been told about. Anybody who has seen a Fast and Furious film or even just a trailer knows that the films are all about family - family is incredibly important to Dom so it made perfect sense that he would do anything for somebody he is actually blood related to. Cipher's incentives as a villain were also pretty clear - she wanted the world leaders to have accountability for when they act stupidly on behalf of the globe. I think this rung some bells to current times and may act as a warning to current leaders to think before they act - especially the guy who went from reality star to president. There are also plenty of twists and turns throughout the film such as the revelation of Owen Shaw still being alive - it added some excitement. Like most Fast and Furious films, the film begins pretty lost and unclear but eventually a clear narrative evolves. I also thought the narrative for this film was much darker - a baby is kidnapped, a baby witnesses its mother get shot and Dom turns on what is most important to him, his family - I suppose Furious 7 ended on quite a sad and dark note so this seems like the right direction. 

I used the word 'spectacular' to describe the action in Furious 7 - unfortunately, the action sequences in Fast 8 don't really have a patch on the previous instalment. There was no amazing or jaw dropping action sequence until the finale. However, this was refreshing in comparison to Furious 7 which had amazing and memorable action sequences up until the finale which was a fist fight. I think the addition of hacking hindered the action as there was less physical stuff going on and it was more to do with pushing buttons. I also feel we saw snippets of most of the action sequences in most of the trailers too. The finale though does live up to the world spectacular and is definitely where most of the budget must have been spent - the submarine, all the fancy cars, the location - it was all fantastic. The production value was so high, it was just so exciting and it definitely shifted the film up a gear. What I also liked was how the finale sequence was made up of different action moments. My favourite was definitely Jason Statham with the baby on the plane - it was hilarious, well executed and probably the best scene of the whole film despite probably requiring a lower budget. The baby's reaction to Statham's one liners were very funny. I also thought some of the action sequences increased the stakes to higher than the film was actually aware - Cipher hacks a whole prison and lets everyone out of their cells - some of the world's most dangerous people are now free and on the loose but the film only cares about Statham and Johnson. Cipher hacks loads of cars, some with drivers and has them crashing into one another, driving through buildings and paths - lives would have been lost but the film never mentions this. And finally, the Fast 8 team stop World War 3 - they say it themselves, they know what Cipher is capable of so that is mainly why they are so keen to stop her. I don't know whether that proves that this films are dumb but fun or whether they aren't afraid to raise stakes to new heights. Even though the action isn't as amazing as the previous entries, it's still unlike most action in most films today. 

Simply put, if you don't like the cast already, you're not going to like them now. Luckily for me, I love this cast - as one dimensional as they may be, they have great chemistry and make a great team. Vin Diesel actually expresses some emotion in this film when witnessing his son's mother get killed. Even though it's pretty obvious these are likely fake tears, it was unusual to seem him with some emotion. However, Vin Diesel is the heart and soul of these films and without him, they just wouldn't work. Dwayne Johnson is also good - playing his usual type of character. However, dare I admit it, Jason Statham was probably the best part of the film. I'm usually not a Statham fan at all - I find his acting style pretty obnoxious but I think in this film he doesn't take himself too seriously and it works. The sequence on the plane with the baby sold me on him and his character and I actually cannot wait to see more of him. Charlize Theron plays a good villain - she is ruthless and dangerous. My only complaint is that Theron doesn't have too much to do as she doesn't actually get to go on the field, she controls from the sidelines. As it's likely Theron will return for Fast 9, I would like to see her get her own physical action sequence. Finally, Helen Mirren - my wish came true when I found out she was playing Jason Statham's mum. I don't know whether I liked her cockney accent but it was just hilarious to see her in this film and hopefully she returns. This team is an iconic set of characters at this point and I think that's because they are so diverse but also because of the series' ongoing message about family - I truly believe that they are family and mean everything to each other. I also liked how the film added some depth to the Shaw family and then also to Dom's past. I did think it was interesting that Ramsay's last name was questioned in the final scene of the film making me think she has a past that we need to know about. 

The biggest disappointment about this film was definitely the soundtrack - there are a couple of good songs but I don't think Gary Gray knew how to utilise a soundtrack like James Wan did. The music is a big part of the film towards the beginning but kind of fades away towards the end. Listening to the soundtrack, only 'Good Life' seems to have potential. I was excited for the release of this film not only for the film but for the soundtrack too - it's sad that the soundtrack is underwhelming. 

Fast & Furious 8 is fun, exciting and will satisfy fans of the series. Even though the plot goes in a completely new direction to where the series has been before - I suppose that makes this instalment more refreshing and interesting. The film has some sophisticated ideas but I think the stakes get raised a little too high and to be deemed as an intellectual film, Fast 8 should have been able to control the stakes. The performances are good and Theron looks to be a promising villain. The action isn't as great as usual but the finale is definitely memorable. Probably not the best of the franchise, but Fast & Furious 8 is still a solid action film that's fun with high energy and what I would call, iconic characters. 


What did you think of FAST & FURIOUS 8? What is your favourite in the series? - COMMENT BELOW

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