Fast and Furious 8 movie review: The strangest, most outlandish entry in the series
Fast and Furious 8
Director - F Gary Gray
Cast - Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren
Rating - 2/5
It is in times like these that you mourn Han’s death extra hard. The sight of him, that stone cold stare, those smirky shrugs, thoroughly unconcerned by the unbelievable mayhem playing out around him, probably slipping single chips into his mouth... You’ll miss that here – dare I say, more than you’ll miss Brian.
Especially when demi god Vin Diesel decides to race a nuclear-armed submarine. But more on that later.
Before that, he meets a mysterious cyber terrorist called Cypher, who, and there’s no better way to put this, hacks into his brain, and forces him to turn his back on the only code he lives by – family (say it in Vin Diesel’s gravelly monotone for maximum impact).
Of course, there’s a reason why Dominic Toretto goes rogue. There always is. Because without it, we’d have no movie would we? And when that reason is revealed, by God it will put you in a strange mood.
For the longest time, the Fast and Furious series has been an exercise in testing mankind’s patience for cartoonish action - like a multi-billion-dollar lab experiment gone way out of hand. On literally any other occasion, the sight of million-dollar cars parachuting down from the sky, or chasing down a cargo plane down a 45 km runway, OR Vin Diesel soaring across the sky Superman-like, would’ve been one outlandish move too many. We were there right with them till they’d restricted themselves to dragging 3-tonne bank vaults across Rio de Janeiro, but not anymore, no.
And then, there’s the issue of the almost Inception-like levels of complexity to the chronology of the series. As we stand, this is how it goes: 1, 2 - a short film with a deceptive poster retroactively written, produced, and co-directed by our boy Vin Diesel (this is not a lie. Go look it up) - 4, 5, 6, 3, 7 and now, 8.
And as if all this - the insane timeline, the devil-may-care attitude to the action, the increasingly uncomfortable will they/won’t they dynamic playing out between The Rock and Vin Diesel - wasn’t enough, there’s also the fact that the characters’ personalities aren’t set in stone, which is so weird. Tyrese used to scowl a lot and used to punctuate his sentences with the word ‘bruh’. He is now the comic relief, and if memory serves, has stopped saying ‘bruh’ completely. Ludacris, the man, the rapper, despite showing no signs of being adept at anything other than chilling on lounge chairs in his first appearance, was made a ‘computers expert’ in the later movies.
Oh, and also, they brought Letty back from the dead, which, in hindsight, too a shocking plot development to simply shrug off like we all did.
But I digress. Let’s come back to the point. Vin Diesel was racing a nuclear-armed submarine. And we were missing Han’s classic reaction shot, that wry smile on his face, and a bag of chips in his hands.
Fast and Furious 8, or The Fate of the Furious if we were to call it by its more inventive title, is not as deliriously over-the-top as 5, it isn’t as emotional as 7, and it isn’t as all around awesome as Tokyo Drift (which is, unconventionally, my favourite of the bunch). But none of this matters. It is, however, the strangest, darkest, and the most deviant film in the series.
But even if we were to put all the eccentricities of the plot aside for a moment, because being a fan of this franchise, someone who has been there right from the beginning, I realise that what really draws us to these movies is the action. It used to be the characters too, once upon a time, but now, sadly, it’s just the action. But director F Gary Gray, who has made some fantastic films in the past (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton to name a couple), seems to be too bogged down by the behemoth this series has become. His action set-pieces (that tundra-set show stopper included) don’t hold a candle to anything Justin Lin did in his four movies. Or even James Wan in Furious 7. There’s no authorship to this film. It could have been directed by any of the series’ previous filmmakers and no one would have noticed.
For a franchise whose sole purpose of being hinges on the age old mantra ‘go big or go home’, Fast and Furious 8 sure does follow the rulebook. But sadly, the fatigue is setting in. A couple of films ago – even three films ago – you’d never have believed it. The series had just witnessed a comeback unlike any other. In that moment, to quote a teen novel of all things, we were all infinite. Dom was in love. The Rock was breaking concrete by stomping on it real hard. Tyrese was yelling. Women were being objectified…
But now, after we’ve seen parachuting cars and flying Vin Diesels, what’s a nuclear missile here and there?