Adrenaline rush still going strong
It’s been 16 years since Vin Diesel first revved up his engine in The Fast and the Furious and this eighth entry in the breakneck franchise marks the first time he’s turned to the dark side.
Yep, Dom Toretto has gone rogue as he turns his back on his friends and family to cosy up alongside Charlize Theron’s evil hacker Cipher – but is there more to it than meets the eye?
You won’t find the answer to that question here, but Furious fans can rest assured that although this instalment takes a slightly darker turn in the road, it’s still as breathlessly manic and over-the-top as ever.
Every time the series delivers a set piece you think can’t be topped it furnishes us with Dwayne Johnson batting away a torpedo with his muscle-bound arms, dozens of driver-less cars plummeting onto the streets below and a submarine – yes, a submarine – bearing down on our heroes.
It’s fair to say that F. Gary Gray – directing his first Furious flick – knows exactly what fans have come to expect; unmitigated carnage with the odd laugh and lump in front moment along the way.
He falls short of the previous movie’s bombastic brilliance, though, as the series’ regular writer Chris Morgan – who has penned films three-to-eight – has handed him a story that almost collapses under the weight of its over-ambition.
Turning Dom bad may have led to much prerelease intrigue and some meaty face-offs with his buddies, but his presence on the light side of the fence is sorely missed, especially given this is only the second Furious movie lacking the charm and warmth of Paul Walker following the star’s tragic death in 2013.
Theron’s villain is also a big letdown. She doesn’t do a lot beyond ordering Dom around and is a far cry from the unstoppable force and nasty nature Jason Statham and Luke Evans, respectively, provided in the previous two films.
Thankfully, Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) is back in the spotlight after taking a back seat in Furious 7, Kurt Russell (Mr Nobody) brings a welcome dose of nous, Statham returns in scene-stealing form and there’s the surreal sight of Dame Helen Mirren (Magdalene) sharing banter with Diesel.
But if the last instalment was starting to rival a Marvel team-up movie for its sizeable cast, this one must have required a cavalcade of catering trucks to feed everyone on-set – and it’s inevitable that more than a few characters are given short shrift.
Still, we don’t rock up to watch a Furious flick for its subtlety and thoughtprovoking storylines, and Gray dials up the action to genuinely jaw-dropping levels, all the while keeping his camera close to the crunching metal – and bones.
By the end of the bumnumbing 136 minutes you may be ready for a liedown in a darkened room, but while Furious 8 falls short of the franchise’s best efforts, there’s plenty of gas left in the series’ tank yet.
Going rogue Diesel joins forces with Theron’s evil hacker