Remember when these guys were just ghetto street racers who could barely rob a semi-truck? When exactly did they become The Avengers?
That being said, this is the eighth installment in The Fast and The Furious franchise. All of the crew who are alive (both in universe and reality) are back for this latest adventure. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has betrayed his family and begun working for the elusive Cipher (Charlize Theron). So now the crew of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Chris Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) must team up with former enemy, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to find and capture Dominic and his new cohort. What does Cipher want? What any generic bad guy from a cliche action movie wants, the nuclear codes. Will the team be able to stop her and her plans? What’s up with Dominic who only cares about family?
If that sounds like a lot, that’s exactly what it was. The film is seemingly two movies mashed into one and makes something of a mess. It is hard to get into the specifics about Dominic’s half of the plot as it is spoiler heavy. But let’s say that it is dark. It would seemingly be fine in any other movie. But it does not mesh well with the other half of the movie with the exploits of the other characters. That half is what you have come to expect from the more recent Fast and Furious movies. Machismo up to the max, corny jokes, and over the top and nonsensical action.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham save this movie. They seem to be the only ones who know what kind of movie they are in and play it to their strengths. There have always been rumblings about spinning off Hobbs into his own movie separate from the others. If they could add Statham to that mix, then that is a movie I would watch. There is a jailbreak sequence with the two that is one of the strongest set pieces in the film. Jason Statham also has a great action scene on an airplane that is something absurd but fun. Now why is Statham suddenly on the side of good while in the previous movie, he was a cold blooded murderer? That is another one of the film’s convoluted messes.
The other cast members do not fare so well. Tyrese Gibson as Roman is just buffoonish in this movie. Constantly yelling, making dumb jokes and doing frankly dumb things. Why anyone would take a Lamborghini to a mission in the Arctic other than to look “cool” is beside me. This is an actor that the director really needed to reign in. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel are fine in their roles as the hackers but there is nothing really to them either. Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood as Mr. Nobody and Little Nobody are just fine as the government types. I’m positive that they give Eastwood’s character an actual name but I could have cared less. Charlize Theron as Cipher is serviceable if generic as this terrorist/hacker. She plays the character with icy coolness that sometimes comes across as her just coasting. The biggest problem in the cast is Vin Diesel himself. Despite being the star, his character is just boring. He has not changed since the first movie and the whole grumbling/low talk/constant talk of family thing is running thin. The same goes for Letty and these two seem like relics who don’t really belong anymore.
F. Gary Gray is the director of this film but there’s really nothing about it that makes you think he left his mark on this franchise. Justin Lin who direct the third through sixth films of this series left a permanent stamp that ultimately can’t really be changed at this point. The action scenes are great but how much of that is up to Gray or just his second unit director. It really does feel like he could have chosen a better project to do instead of this one especially after Straight Outta Compton. But I’m sure the paycheck was nice and I can’t fault someone who wants a nice paycheck.
If you’re a fan of these movies, I’m sure nothing I’m saying will change your mind. This series is set in stone as to how it’s going to be. Continuity overload to previous films/talk about family/action scenes that make no sense, etc. I really find it increasingly hard to write these films off as “dumb fun” especially when it tries to play it both ways with some of the drama elements. If the series just shifted to Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham then I would be okay with it. But other than that, there are too many nonsensical elements that just take me out of the movie and I’m someone who can buy a super soldier fighting with a big green monster. The movie is fine but nothing to write home about.