Considering when the new year started, I’d only seen one of these movies, and that was ages ago and I didn’t even like it that much, it says something that I would go see the latest the night of its release after working my way through the rest with Jimmy and Ryan during the Furious Fridays discussions.
But hey, here’s a SPOILER FREE review for the eighth (!) installment of the franchise that started off as drag racers that robbed trucks and has since became a whole lot of something else.
Initially, I have to admit to being a bit unimpressed. True, there was some standard good actions scenes, and then we see Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto be convinced to work for superhacker Cipher (Charlize Theron with a bad hair do). Why Dom would do such a thing is not much of a mystery for long, but the reason was a pleasant surprise amongst a lot of what I’d come to expect from the series. Talk of family? Yup. The Rock’s Luke Hobbs performing impossible feats of superhuman strength? You betchya. Dom walking away from incidents that would have killed a lesser man? Hell yeah. Close up of female posteriors and a race scene? Yeah, all there.
Why wasn’t it working for me? It wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination bad. It was fine. I was sitting there largely missing the larger ensemble Dom would put together for jobs, and what with the in-universe death of Gisele and Han, to say nothing of the actual death of Paul Walker and that effect on the Brian/Dom partnership, that left much of the remaining crew to try and shoulder the interest in what was happening, and much of that seemed to consist of them sitting around and saying whether or not Dom really turned on them. Even a rather impressive New York set piece, Kurt Russell and Jason Statham reprising their roles from Fast 7, and the addition of Helen Mirren weren’t working much for me in the grand scheme of things. F. Gary Gray is, for better or worse, no Justin Lin and Scott Eastwood is definitely no Paul Walker.
And then the last scene happened, and it became a real Fast and the Furious movie. Surprise cameos, an intricate plan that probably doesn’t make sense on some levels, defying the basic laws of physics and common sense, and the surprising comedic stylings of Jason Statham. I was leaning towards a good 8 to 8 and a half on the rating, but that climax had me on the edge of my seat.
Which is actually how all the better ones have been so far. I’m not really sold on Theron’s villain here. Her nonstop talk of choices seemed like the work of someone who just took a freshman psyche class at an unaccredited community college, but the rest worked out very well for me. Nine out of ten manipulative mothers.