It’s called Fast & Furious 8 here in the UK. Seems to be Fate of the Furious in other markets. Misleading; there don’t seem much fateful or furious about this joint. We open in Cuba, I guess the lifting of the embargo has made it the new hot place for films to visit. It is populated by young attractive people in bright contrasting clothing, is this America’s new romantic Cuba? Is the animosity so easily vanished? Stephen F. Windon’s camera moves among them with an easy male gaze, his title is shown superimposed over a close shot of some juicy butts.
Dom and Letty are on honeymoon, they walk the streets, a local invites him to check their ride. Dom notices the engine has been replaced, the new one salvaged from a boat. ‘This is true ingenuity.’ he states, clapping the man on the back, ‘We are brothers now.’ his eyes say. A tatooed man arrives, loan payments are outstanding, the car is his. Dom preaches the gospel of personal responsibilty, a mediating element, until the man has the poor sense to insult his beloved. They race.
Elsewhere in the world, Luke coaches an all girl soccer squad. It’s the final. He gives a rousing speech. Then as the teams face each other, that point where they would usually shake hands, he leads his team in a haka. Shouting tactics from the side of the pitch, while fending off the admiring mothers of his wards, a suited man approaches. There is a government job needs urgently doing, Luke retorts that if his team loses he’ll be in far more trouble than the US goverment currently is.
Somewhere else aside, Deckard sits in a prison cell, he’s probably waiting for someone to fill the one opposite. His biting cockney tounge and cheerful cynicism are wasted here, he bides his time, there’ll eventually come a chance to escape.
From the shadows two white guys: an older funnier white guy; and a younger, immesurably blander, white guy, sit back. They ain’t too good at their professional spy jobs. They need help from some radical and unconventional freelancers.
And above, in the skies, a mysterious woman rides aboard an untracable plane. She carries a dangerous cargo and a darstadly plot.
Dom is played by Vin Diesel, Letty by Michelle Rodriguez, Luke by Dwayne Johnson, Deckard by Jason Statham, the two white men by Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood (me niether), the mystery woman is Charlize Theron. There’s not much to the film other than that. Sure, other members of the family come out of whatever cryogenic storage chamber it is they spend their time in when not required by the plot, but most of the fun comes through winding up our beyblade characters and dropping them all into the same world.
I’ve got a brother. His favourite film is Rush Hour. He says that films need action and comedy: Rush Hour, he says, is about a 9 in action and an 8 in comedy. I have never been so enamoured with the franchise. Watching these most recent Fast/Furious joints has made me more receptive to that point of view. They’re these frictionless machines, designed to glide effortlessly through the world leaving as minimal an impact possible, they want to have action, and they want to be funny.
There’s this one point where the film forgets itself for a moment. A woman is killed in cold blood. Everything about that moment feels so wrong. In our earliest scenes the two leads surround themselves with children, physical embodiment of their open hearts. Even the drama, Dom’s much vaunted turn to the dark side, is undercut by his family’s steadfast belief in his virtue. Then a woman gets shot, then she gets forgotten about. The whole film ashamed of the action that it just took. An abused woman was never executed in Rush Hour.
Aside from that it’s easy sailing, there is nothing in F. Gary Grey’s direction that would really give a moment’s pause. Michelle Rodriguez puts in some good work as the woman scorned. The action scenes are fun and vary, as always, from the derivative (a very Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol jail brawl) to the inventive (Statham shooting his way out of a plane with precious cargo.)
It’s fine. I wish I could be more enthusiastic. It’s just fine.
It doesn’t carry me.
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures