Fast and Furious 8: The Dumb, Fun Action Movie You’ve Been Waiting For?

Ever since Justin Lin gave us Fast Five in 2011, the franchise has veered away from its origins in street racing towards the heist genre. And it’s worked. Fast Five was easily the pinnacle of the Fast and Furious franchise, with a final action sequence that will likely never be rivalled for sheer ingenuity, and excitement by the series itself. That helped its future instalments break box office records, over and over, with the latest in the series – Fast and Furious 8 aka The Fate of the Furious – aiming to continue the trend.
Whatever the hell that the plot may purport to be, Fast and Furious films are enjoyable for their million-dollar over-the-top action sequences that ooze fun, defy all kinds of logic, and contain a healthy amount of wise-cracks. Two cars dragging a bank vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro? Sure. The crew holding down an aircraft that tries to take off from an (endless) runway? Who cares. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Shaw (Jason Statham) starting a fight that only exists because Dom willingly discards his shotgun? Why not.
Unfortunately, Fast and Furious 8 discards all that for a large part of its runtime. It’s written by Chris Morgan, who’s now a veteran with his sixth entry, with a new director in place: F. Gary Gray, known for his work on The Italian Job (2003), and Straight Outta Compton (2015). The new entry is set after the events of Furious 7, with Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on a honeymoon in Cuba, when hacker villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) ambushes Dom with spoiler-y blackmail. So, where does The Fate of the Furious falter? Does it get anything right? Ready, set, go.From the headline, these films work best as big dumb, action blockbusters. Just look at how absurd that name is. This isn’t a franchise that was moulded carefully with the intent of creating one; it just organically found itself in that spot. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) could have been easily been the death of the franchise, and Fast & Furious (2009) nearly killed it with its sad plot, and reliance on CGI (F&F is known for its practical effects, performed by a capable stunt-team).Fast and Furious 8 opens with a race between Dom, and his cousin’s Cuban enemy, featuring two very opposite cars – one on its last legs, and the other the talk of the town, respectively. That sequence ends with Dom reversing over the finish line as he wins narrowly, the kind of outlandish cool factor the franchise continually aspires for.
For example, there’s an extended sequence midway through the film in New York City, where Cipher (Charlize Theron) – the film’s hacker villain – hijacks the city’s car through zero-day exploits on the software end, and turns them all into self-driving bots for her own use. In a following scene, dozens of cars exit a high-story garage to fall onto the cars below. It makes for great carnage, but little else. Fast and Furious was born out of a celebration of both great-looking cars, and the driving culture. The new film’s New York segment goes against that by taking the all-important human element out of it. And that’s precisely what happens – the scene in Fast and Furious 8 becomes a lot more fun when the gang literally latches onto Dom’s car to stop him. That memorable scene we mentioned? It involves Hobbs telling Roman (Tyrese Gibson) to take the wheel as he gets out of his car.

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