Review: FAST & FURIOUS 8 (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Review: FAST & FURIOUS 8 (2017)

Review: FAST & FURIOUS 8 (2017)

When Dom (Vin Diesel) is being blackmailed by a mysterious hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron), he has no choice but betrays his family to work for her. After Dom steals a powerful EMP device during a heist, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the rest of the crew forced to team up with Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to track down Dom and Cipher.

REVIEW: After the untimely death of Paul Walker in 2013 that forced the filming of FAST & FURIOUS 7 to halt for several script rewrites, screenwriter Chris Morgan and director James Wan made the right choice giving Walker's Brian O'Conner role a proper sendoff. The result was an emotionally-charged finale that perfectly scored to Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's heartfelt ballad of "See You Again". From there, the seventh instalment should have ended as the final chapter of the long-running franchise. But thanks to the movie's billion-dollar worldwide gross at the box office, three more sequels were greenlit and scheduled to arrive in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

So now, we are here at FAST & FURIOUS 8. With the exception of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006), this is the first time to see whether the eighth instalment able to pass the litmus test in the post-Paul Walker era. Surprisingly enough, FAST & FURIOUS 8 manages to prove there are still plenty of gas in the fuel tank. Director F. Gary Gray (THE ITALIAN JOB, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) does a good job in the action department, beginning with the rousing Havana-set opener that sees Dom challenges a Cuban opponent for a street race with his cousin's beat-up banger. The scene is a classic pedal-to-the-metal setpiece that evokes the first three FAST & FURIOUS movies. The action gets bigger from here, though not every moment is necessarily better (the hastily-shot hand-to-hand combat scenes quickly comes to mind). The movie's Manhattan-set centrepiece is a particular standout with a huge number of "zombie cars"  being hacked and controlled like drones by Cipher reminds me of a chase scene in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003). Except this one features a whole lot of cars crashes against each other in a demolition derby style.

Unfortunately, the final third-act set in Russia's frozen tundra stretches its logic-defying believability into a whole new preposterous level. Although it has been a tradition of late that the recent FAST & FURIOUS franchise embraces more over-the-top vehicular stunts, the extended chase scene complete with Dom manoeuvres his car to outrun two heat-seeking missiles and Hobbs literally pushes a torpedo off target with his bare hands, are seriously outrageous.

Review: FAST & FURIOUS 8 (2017)

Plot-wise, Chris Morgan's screenplay is bloated as usual that the 136-minute running time could have used some serious trimming. Still, the whole "Dom suddenly goes rogue and becomes a traitor against his family" angle is an interesting change of pace while Morgan adds a nice touch by paying a tribute to Walker's Brian O'Conner character during the final scene.

As for the cast, the introduction of Charlize Theron as the series' first female villain is refreshingly novel. Her icy role as Cipher is no doubt one of the best antagonists ever seen in the FAST & FURIOUS franchise. Helen Mirren, in the meantime, shows up in a memorable cameo appearance. However, another series newcomer in the form of Scott Eastwood fares poorly as Mr. Nobody's (Kurt Russell) second-in-command. The recurring cast members (Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel and Kurt Russell) all deliver effective performances as usual. But the real scene-stealers go to Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, in which their bromance, as well as their penchant for throwing insults at each other, are simply fun to watch.

Apart from a change of director (F. Gary Gray) and the introduction of the series' first female villain (Charlize Theron), FAST & FURIOUS 8 retains pretty much the same over-the-top formula: big, dumb and fun action movie.

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