Eschewing its fantastic American title The Fate of the Furious for an aggravatingly dull bog-standard title, Lee and Shane bite down their disappointment and return to the world of fast cars and furious people in their reviews.
The highlight series of the ‘so bad it’s good’ times we live in, forever riding that grey area of taste and creative necessity for still higher returns in laughter at its gormless, hap dash form –The Fast and the Furious series is one beyond ridicule, as it wears parody like a bulletproof vest. A broad crowd pleaser too, as it plays stereotypes and one-liners into as diverse and inclusive a world as they come (at least as far as Hollywood’s concerned), so everyone’s at fault; everyone’s a joke.
Still, there’s a scale for these things – comedy comes with spectacle and absurdity, but also benefits from a complementary story that keeps the jokes coming. Action’s all well and good too, a fine padding to keep the viewer’s attention while you quietly let them catch their breath for more jokes, but if it’s going to form the crux of your film you better hope you have a good set-up and some solid scenes in mind.
Thankfully, the brilliantly titled Fate of the Furious (known in the UK by its terrible title Fast and the Furious 8) has, on paper, one of the best set-ups the series could have hoped for, and some of the best set-pieces to capitalise on that story. This time around, Dom Toretto plays turncoat on his vigilante gang, forcing the team against themselves as they struggle to maintain that ‘family’ distinction they wear so proudly. The government gets involved, which gives us more Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell, and there’s a shady organisation pulling the strings led by Charlize Theron – on paper it’s wonderful. We take the established strengths of the preceding narratives, turn them on their head, bring back some familiar faces – it’s like a best-of compilation of silly opportunities and over-the-top showcase explosions.
In practice, however, the film furthers the glaring issues of the previous movie by being way too long and often way too boring. Scenes with the gang freaking out, quipping at each other – good. Scenes with cars crashing out of buildings – excellent. Scenes with submarines and sci-fi gadgetry – bizarre and hilarious. Scenes with hostage negotiations, bad guy monologues, government exposition and scheme planning – not so good. Exposition and planning make up roughly a third of the movie, and it’s a shame as it pushes the runtime well-beyond reasonable for an action movie, especially for information your average viewer will neither care about or pay attention to.
It kills the mood between scenes, and rarely offers up enough jokes or moments to make light of to really make it worth the hassle. It’s especially a shame because the concept of Dom leaving the gang is ridiculous in its simplicity, and so should have been backed up with a simple plot, rather than a convoluted story of hackers and conspiracies. We can forgive the film many things, including having Dom explain why he can’t just tell his gang why he’s evil now, or why EMPs don’t appear to affect the main characters at any point, or that the plot resolves itself in a string of the most incoherent revelations ever to pretend to be clever in the history of cinema; we simply cannot forgive boredom.
Still, the highlight reel is certainly worth your time, with moments so memorable you’ll probably forget entirely that you spent half the movie bored out of your mind waiting for more good stuff to happen. Recommended viewing: with you closest, funniest friends at home. This is a film you’ll want to laugh at as much as you’ll want to laugh with, and the cinema experience just isn’t made for people chiming in. Wait for it to come home first, and enjoy in the leisure of your living room.
Favourite scenes: Jason Statham, baby-guarding assassin. Who cares if this loses half the audience that takes this stuff seriously, this sequence deserves its own spin-off.
The Fast and the Furious series, much like Ed Sheeran, spews out something awful every couple of years that’s so devoid of depth that humanity can’t help but be thoroughly entertained despite itself. The only difference is I’m not a fan of Ed Sheeran.
We could go on and on about the total lack of character development, the plot that’s so lost for a genuine reason to blow up cars that it actually is forced to rob the last few movies of their own plot setups, we could do that. But, at the end of the day, The Rock punched a torpedo into a Russian Separatist 4×4. God Bless America.