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|The Fate of the Furious|
|aka Fast & Furious 8|
dir F Gary Gray
scr Chris Morgan
prd Neal H Moritz, Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell
with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Elsa Pataky, Kristofer Hivju, Helen Mirren
release US/UK 14.Apr.17
17/US Universal 2h16
Dastardly duo: Theron and Diesel
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This franchise gets exponentially ridiculous with each episode, adding A-list cast members who jostle for screen time amid loudly vrooming cars and fantastical vehicular carnage. That said, this eighth movie is marginally more grounded than the last few instalments, playing with emotive family issues and indulging in more raucous comedy.
Now living in Havana, Dom and Letty (Diesel and Rodriguez) find their life interrupted by the mysterious Cipher (Theron), who whisks Dom away to pull a series of elaborate heists. Meanwhile, Hobbs (Johnson) is trying to be a soccer dad when Mr Nobody (Russell) and his new sidekick Eric (Eastwood) drag him back in to stop Cipher's nefarious plan, whatever that may be. They also draft in Letty and the team (Gibson, Bridges and Emmanuel), heading briefly to Berlin before recruiting hothead Deckard (Statham) and diving into more havoc in New York and Arctic Russia.
The plot is preposterous, relying on unspoken motives, surprising revelations and random acts of mass violence. It plays out like a videogame, as brutally dispatched goons are knocked down and stay down while protagonists advance through increasingly epic levels. It's a carefully orchestrated series of set-pieces: heist caper, military siege, fistfight, road chase, demolition derby. In the Manhattan sequence alone, thousands of cars are flung into the fray, while the filmmakers ignore collateral damage.
As a director, Gray offers gritty dramatics, which lets the actors add intriguing angles into their performances. Theron is a superbly tenacious baddie, and she has terrific purring chemistry with Diesel, who anchors the film like a favourite uncle and gets some amusingly emotional moments all his own. Likeable meatheads Johnson and Statham lock horns in a barrage of insults that's genuinely hilarious; both infuse gleeful energy into their action sequences. As the token enjoyably awkward newcomer, Eastwood holds his own.
The film is so much fun that it's pointless to argue that several sequences feel like padding, slowing down momentum as they add nothing to the story. The urgent filmmaking style combines hand-held camerawork with breakneck editing. So there's never a dull moment, as the mayhem only rarely pauses for breath (and plot exposition). And it's of course designed to kill off scores of faceless side characters while the principals miraculously survive to deliver another punchline. But most of all, we want more of Mirren's Cockney diva. Give her an orange Lamborghini and get out of the way.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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