Here we are, the 8th installment of the hit series is here (I know, that’s crazy that we’re there’s 8 of these) and I’m happy to say that it’s just as fun and crazy as the past films, while surprisingly, having a very gripping and human story that truly felt the stakes were raised with this one. As someone whose a huge fan of this series, I’ll be the first to admit that while I care and enjoy these characters, the story isn’t the draw to these movies as say the crazy over the top set-pieces which oh boy does this have some great ones. But, I was very drawn into Dom going against his family (oh yes, you get your over abundance of the word family in this) and discovering the reason as to why which was definitely not what I expected.
So Dom (Vin Diesel) has gone rogue and is working for the villainous hacker Cipher (the always wonderful, Charlize Theron). This leaves Dom’s team confused and scared as they are awestruck that Dom, a man who preaches the importance of family, would betray them. As there are fun surprises throughout, I don’t wanna ruin it but lets just say when you find out why Dom is doing what he’s doing, you immediately understand why and feel his internal struggle.
The gang’s all back in this one, of course minus Brian O’Connor. Paul Walker’s presence and charisma is definitely missed and newcomer Scott Eastwood is there to be an almost replacement as Kurt Russell’s character, Mr. Nobody’s by the books protege and while he doesn’t necessarily fill that void, I did by the end enjoy his character and will look forward to him working with the team in the next one. As for the other character’s, if you’ve seen the other ones which by this point, I doubt you’re going to see this movie if you’re not already invested in these characters, you know that you’re getting a fun team dynamic, Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson) comedic relief which is always timed perfectly, Tej (Ludacris) being like the coolest tech guy ever and a lot of close-ups of underbutt. Something that was added and I hope is pushed even farther in the next one is the hate-hate dynamic between Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The chemistry these two have steals the movie and for Shaw being a despicable foe in the previous installment, the way that he is implemented into the team and the fact the team works with him surprisingly worked really well and the way the film kicks off this dynamic with one of the best and most badass prison breakout scenes in a movie that I’ve ever seen, I’m on board with these two being a fun dynamic the way Tej and Roman playoff each other. Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, he is in this installment more so than the last few and I couldn’t be happier. He is literally a face smashing quote machine. I love Hobbs and every time he’s on scene, I just can’t get enough of him. Charlize Theron has so much fun and feels like a Bond Villain that was ripped out of a Bond and put into here. In all honestly, comparing her to Blofeld in Spectre, I actually prefer Cipher to Blofeld. The way the film uses this character both goes as far back to the first installment and definitely intrigues for what’s to come in the “final” two installments, as this is the beginning of a finale trilogy.
F. Gary Gray handles himself very well behind the camera, directing some crisp and fun action sequences that both look really badass and are coherent and not choppily edited. I could definitely see his style with the vast locations faded into the environment every time it cuts to another locale while still keeping that F&F formula and charm we all know and love.
Now, I’m not gonna sit here and say that this is the film that finally can change even the most hateful of this franchise into fans, which honestly, I doubt anyone even expects that. By this 8th installment, you’re either on board or you’re just avoiding these. While Fast Five is still the best of the series, I’d say this is slightly better then Furious 6 but a little under Furious 7. Still, If you like the other ones and go in knowing what to expect which is over the top setpieces, the word family muttered an outrageous amount, fun characters and just a movie where you sit in a theater and stuff your mouth with popcorn, you’re going to have the time of your life. That’s exactly what I did.