Fast 8 is the Most Absurd One Yet
It is no secret that franchises are currently dominating the film industry. Just look at some of the most notable upcoming releases in terms of projected box office revenue: May will mark the return of Jack Sparrow to the high seas; director Ridley Scott takes the helm of the Alien franchise; the fifth and final Transformers comes out this June. And then, of course, the latest Star Wars is guaranteed to rake in another billion or so dollars this Christmas with the release of The Last Jedi.
Yet the one that is generating the most headlines right now is The Fast and the Furious franchise, given that the eighth installment hit theatres this past Friday, April 14. Our main takeaway after seeing it at an epic IMAX theatre in London is this: The Fate of the Furious (a.k.a. Fast 8) is phenomenal -- if you were already into this sort of thing.
All that you would come to expect, or roll your eyes at, is on full display once again in this action spectacle. Insane action? Oh yeah. Terrific soundtrack? Yep. Tons of Vin Diesel references to family? Check. But there are a few other elements that help make Fast 8 an above-average entry in the franchise. Our first highlight is the opening scene in Cuba, which serves as a nice nod to fans of the earlier films. In addition, Charlize Theron does a great job as the film’s villain, Cipher, both cunning and menacing. Unlike past installments, the writers made the plot somewhat intricate this time, particularly with how Cipher got Dominic Toretto to turn on his friends (you would know Toretto goes rogue, by the way, if you have seen the trailer). And lastly, we would like to mention that we thought Tyrese Gibson was great. He held things together, particularly from a comedic perspective. We would say even more about what was great about Fast 8, but we do not want to spoil anything.
However, the problems associated with these films are even more pronounced in this eighth installment. The action sequences are more and more numerous, and the ridiculousness of them has become even more extreme. It makes for a wild ride to watch, but the franchise has come a long way since its first film, which featured a much larger focus on the culture around car meets and racing. To put it another way, one action scene in this film destroys around 200-300 vehicles. Additionally, the Rock’s character says the most obvious and stupid things, and uses about five bottles too much body oil. I mean the guy shines as bright as a full moon, it is inhuman. Lastly, the inclusion of rival Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, into the team was strange. It is important plot-wise, but this is also the guy that killed Han (skip to 6:15). Additionally, we feel it is important to note that the movie was lacking without Paul Walker’s presence as Brian O’Connor.
Fast and the Furious will always be criticized for having outrageous action and no clever plot or acting. But if you think about it, what major film franchise is not at least a little ridiculous? Star Wars obviously offers much more by way of storytelling and acting than a movie like Fast 8, but if you step back and observe from afar, a world in which there are characters like Jabba the Hut and Chewbacca is quite absurd. James Bond movies clearly revel in ridiculousness, too. For instance, is it really conceivable that a person can jump off a cliff and track down a pilot-less plane, and then steer it out of the crater of a mountain range? Ahh….no. However, this absurdity has helped make franchises like Star Wars and James Bond some of the most popular and successful ones to this day. And the Fast and the Furious films really are not much different, despite how over the top they have become.
The good news for people who have enjoyed the previous films is that more absurdity is not necessarily a bad thing in this case. Seeing The Fate of the Furious was a blast, regardless of how stupid it was. And while it is hard to imagine that there are more death-defying situations these characters can conceivably find themselves in moving forward, it was a terrific experience to sit back and enjoy one more ride.