Director: F. Gary Gray
And so to FF8, FOTF, or as it’s described on our ticket the intriguing Fate of the Fur. Sadly it turns out not to be a PETA documentary but Vin, The Rock, Michelle and the others in cars again. The franchise is rapidly mutating into a US car-heavy version of James Bond, with the US government seemingly happy to entrust (with plausible deniability from Kurt Russell) the fate of the free world to Ludacris in a Lambo. He may in fact be in a Bentley but I need this for the alliteration.
This was a family movie choice, keeping teenagers and adults just about enthralled and excited.
There’s a pre-credits sequence which focuses on actual racing, set in Cuba, which is pretty straightforward, then it’s onto a Mendes-style incomprehensible plot set-up involving Charlize Theron as hot hacker Cipher. She’s got one over on F & F mainman Dom, who as ever in these films is just trying to settle down when people step to him. She invites him into her private stealth plane (stolen from Agents of Shield), and blackmails him into stealing nasty stuff for her so she can….well do something vaguely wiki leaks ish about holding governments to account.
So that’s the plot, which moves to New York and finally to some separatist-held nuclear sub base in the arctic. Having gone all-in for Bondish action the writers then have to square the circle of setting up secret agentish crises than can only be solved by….a team of good guys driving sports cars very fast. The New York section puts a nice twist on this – Prius owners look away now – and the final chase across the ice is gloriously preposterous. Future episodes may see our gang tackling problems such as Frexit (driving cars really fast through the Channel Tunnel), and taking down Kim Jong-Un through driving cars really fast along the DMZ while Kim fruitlessly expends their entire nuclear arsenal firing it at Vin’s Dodge. Speaking of which, apart from the Cuban section there’s precious little petrolhead porn. No stripping down, boosting up or customising sequences – suggesting that the producers are trying to broaden what was a pretty broad customer base out even further to those lacking interest in the fine grain of turbocharger or nitro boost builds. Its get nice car, drive nice car, crash nice car.
As ever in these films the fun is on the sidelines. Nathalie Emmanuel has to sadly waste her RADA vowels on advancing the hacking plot with lines like ‘I’m in’ or ‘I’ve been locked out’ , but the other Brits are a hoot. Jason Statham reprises his Transporter/Mechanic persona – ok his only persona – to good effect, with an excellent sequence balancing modern man duties such as child-care and offing bad guys. Helen Mirren gets a pension-fattening cameo to try out her Pat Butcher as his mum.
I have to admitting to missing out on all previous FFs except the rubbish one in Tokyo and the bank robbery swingy safe one. So FF lore – such as ‘Family’, why The Rock hates Jason Statham, and why the name Brian is so important(ok I did know its Paul Walker’s character’s name), did pass me by – unlike the noisy crowd which whooped and hollered at the backstory bits.
It evaporates like so much exhaust smoke the second you get out of the cinema, but is a welcome relief from men in tights and Star Wars (really there is only so much Star Wars you need in your life) in the blockbuster stakes. I would recommend finding the biggest and loudest screen you can, if only to squeeze in all of Dwayne Johnson’s pecs.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Top Gear, as it is basically petrolheads save the world. Um…the kind of films with something for everyone. And it doesn’t take itself so seriously.