When Dominic Toretto is forced to turn on his family by the mysterious Cipher, his old team chases around the globe to stop him. But how far will any of them go to stop the other?
The Fast and Furious franchise has long since morphed from films about street racing to globe trotting, all out action films. With the tragic death of Paul Walker, Furious 7 became a much more poignant film than anyone ever expected. However the franchise marches on (due in no small part to a box office take of over $1.5 billion from the previous film alone) and so we get to see the further adventures of Dominic Toretto and Co.
Fittingly, but also not for the first time in this franchise, most of our major players are contented, happily living normal (well, normalish) lives. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are in Cuba, enjoying the culture, the weather, and the beauty of the island. Dom still finds the time to help out his cousin, who loses his car to a loan shark, so Dom races the loan shark and reminds us just how good a driver he is.
At the same time Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) has found a new way to use his motivational skills and tactical acumen – coaching his daughter’s football team. He is approached by a Government agent with some intelligence about a plan to steal an EMP weapon, and although it will be off the books (“if it goes wrong, you won’t just get burned, you’ll go to jail”), he agrees to take on the mission to get the weapon before it falls into the wrong hands. He knows just the team for the job.
In Cuba however, Dom has been approached by a woman asking him to work for her. When he refuses, she shows him a video, and he is forced to make a choice. As the gang is getting away after successfully stealing the EMP, Toretto deliberately crashes into Hobbs and takes the EMP for himself, abandoning his family and working for Cipher (Charlize Theron).
As Toretto’s old gang is confused at his betrayal, Hobbs meets an old adversary in jail – Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The two of them spar verbally, and finally get the chance to fight face to face when Hobbs’ door is mysteriously opened, leading to a riot. The two are stopped by Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell), who along with his protege (Scott Eastwood), offers them a chance at freedom if they agree to track Toretto and stop Cipher. With Toretto’s old team they set out to try and find him, but not before Toretto and Cipher steal the God’s Eye tracking software from the previous film. Can they all work together long enough to stop Cipher’s plans? What does Cipher have that made Dominic Toretto turn his back on his family? And will Hobbs and Shaw throw down?
The Fast and Furious franchise has continually upped the ante film on film, and the addition of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in previous installments really pays off here. They are the definite highlights of the film, as they blast their way through inmates, guards and each other in one spectacular sequence. In fact, this feels like a Johnson/Statham film with the Fast and Furious characters in the background. Charlize Theron also comes into the fold as well as the psychotic Cipher, and although she doesn’t get to bust out her badass Furiosa side, she is a very good, and different, antagonist for Toretto to deal with.
However I don’t think anyone would ever have predicted that Dame Helen Mirren would be part of this franchise. Even with her turns in RED and RED 2, she would seem to be above this sort of fare, but she really gets stuck in as Shaw’s mother. The same should be said of Kurt Russell, who although not exactly stretched by the role does bring some gravitas to it.
Having previously worked with Vin Diesel in A Man Apart, and coming off the back of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray steps into the directors chair, and ramps up the action to an almost comic degree. There’s a scene in New York with literally a thousand cars in a chase that makes The Blues Brothers look restrained. However there’s also an extended fight scene with Statham later on that is definitely played for laughs, so at least you know that the makers are aware of how preposterous most of the film is.
There will be some complaints that this is moving away from what makes (even the later films in the franchise) Fast and Furious films really tick. But this is undeniably entertaining, outright fun, and they’ve even reeled in the sleazy, ogling nature of the earlier films. Sure lots of it doesn’t make sense (Toretto could tell his team to stay away from him, Cipher could get his whole team rather than just him, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are far more interesting than Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson), but like the Mission Impossible films, this does a great job of balancing an ever increasing roster of names, and giving them time to shine.
Turn off your brain and enjoy. Otherwise you’ll have to answer to Hobbs and Shaw.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Interested in buying Fast & Furious? You can buy all seven films at this link for just £19.99