Back in 2001, a low budget film called The Fast and the Furious was released onto a mostly indifferent public. It wasn’t a sequel or remake to either the 1939 mystery comedy film directed by Busby Berkeley. Nor was it a sequel to the 1955 American film noir starring John Ireland and Dorothy Malone. It was instead such a pallet swapped carbon copy of the 1991 cult classic Point Break that I’ve always been slightly confused as to why the lawyers never got involved.
The series pottered on for a few unremarkable sequels and then, one dark evening and probably after a small amount of ‘Columbian inspiration powder’ some executive somewhere Frankensteined this nearly extinct car franchise with Michael Bay and Several series of Top Gear, threw in a cast of varying genders, ethnicities and levels of acting ability, laughed madly as the lightning flashed and the (at time of writing) 9th highest grossing franchise of all time lurched from the table and out into the world.
Back to the 8th film in the franchise (numbers nine and ten are due to be released in 2019 and 2021 respectively) I paid my money, deactivated the parts of my brain that like developed charterers, logic, the laws of physics, gravity, the amount of damage the human body can take as we currently understand them, plots that make sense and why on Earth Dame Helen Mirren would be told to do her best Barbara Windsor impersonation. Or why Snake Plisken would be wasted as chief exposition and plot mover instead of as an actual character. And so hyped on on coke and popcorn I was…..
Lets start with the big issues, all of the big WOW moments in the film were spoiled in the trailers, meaning that when I did see them I was waiting to see what else the film had up it’s sleeve instead of enjoying the carnage on screen (According to insurance company InsuretheGap.com, the damage done onscreen through the stunts of the franchise would total more than $514 million across the first seven films.)
And when the film does have a fun car chase shot so competently that at times I could almost tell what was happening, the film would slow down for a dialogue scene giving the audiences time to catch their breath which sadly also means that we can start thinking at which point this film falls apart. This franchise works best when the audience is so drunk on spectacle and sugar highs that they can’t question almost every aspect of the film and leave with a good feeling. And that just doesn’t happen here.
It also doesn’t help that I could have removed every car chase/race out of this car racing racing franchise and it wouldn’t have impacted the film in the slightest. It would have trimmed the run-time down from 136 minutes to maybe 120 but that’s no great loss.
Mind you, I did like the fight scenes and laughed more at the frankly ridiculous dialogue and characters moments than I have in some comedies. But the film never quite came together for me. It felt like a spy film with a few chases in rather than a car racing franchises.
Speaking of which, Charlize Theron plays an amazing villain in Cypher a computer hacker who can do everything with computers that scriptwriters from 1994 thought that you could do with computers. She’s cool, calm, collected and is probably the best villain James Bond has never fought. She’s completely wrong for this franchise but she’s a really good villain in her own right.
Is Furious 8 a good film? Not really. It has too many slow moments, trying to develop characters that we don’t really care about who spout terrible dialogue whilst struggling to act. Its stunts have been seen too many times in trailers to be impressive. And even then, this franchise has done better It’s too long and despite a budget of 250 million feels like it somehow needed more.
My Score- Skip It.