Tonight we went to see Fast And Furious 8, a film franchise that seems to have attracted almost every bald-headed hardman in Hollywood. There’s Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham. No Michael Chiklis yet, but maybe all that yelling in The Shield was enough for him. It’s maddening to realise that there are now more films in the Fast And Furious series (what ever happened to the definite articles?) than in the Police Academy oeuvre. What will be the next thing to be surpassed? Star Wars?
This is one of the few franchises that has improved over time, although we may have now gone beyond the peak. Just as in F&F5, one action sequence is economically avoided by just having everyone talk about how cool it was, rather than actually film the thing. But at least not every stunt has been spoiled by being shown in the trailer first.
Not every stunt. The submarine, the wrecking ball, the rebellious autonomous cars, those were all things I’d seen before. There’s an inspired Statham fight sequence near the end which came out of nowhere though, and pleased me mightily.
As is the way with franchises, perhaps Fast and Furious will soon receive the reboot treatment. (That’s if Fast & Furious 4 wasn’t the reboot.) There’s enough for at least one more film, as the big baddie escaped capture at the end of this one, but things are beginning to creak under the strain of MacGuffins from previous films. I vaguely remember God’s Eye, but Nightshade from F&F6? What was that? Who’s the lady on the plane? Was she in F&F5, or 6? And why is everything so loud?
(We watched it in Atmos surround sound. You are indeed surrounded by sound. Great big concrete slabs of it. Every time The Rock hits somebody, the world seems to be coming to an end.)
One or two new characters appear. Clint Eastwood’s son, the replacement Paul Walker, has zero personality in the film. He also has a full head of hair: how could he compete against the hairless titans? There’s also a baby. He excels at his line readings, but needs more dialogue. Bring in Bruce Willis for "Look Who’s Fast And Furious 9"?
Maybe not, no.
I think there’s less gratuitous destruction of expensive stuff than previous Fast and Furiouses. There’s only five minutes of pervy upskirt shots (at the start, in Cuba) whereas Fast And Furious 6 (if I remember correctly) was buttocks shaking in your face for half the film. Is that a new feminist agenda in the script? Is there a script? Couldn’t they just have a piece of paper with "Cars – Boobs – Cars – Fight Scene – Dominic Turetto talking about ‘family’" written on it in felt tip pen?
So, in short, more brain-off action. Not much innovation on previous films in the series, but reliably serving up what we all wanted. Confused by the product placement – do bad guys use iPhones and good guys Samsung’s, or the other way round? Otherwise, maybe not a must-see unless you’re reading this in a year’s time and need to prepare yourself for Fast And Furious 9.