Universal Pictures 136 minutes PG-13
Strap yourself in for this one. It’s over the top with creative cartoonish action the characters in this cast could not possibly survive. Sit back and get ready for another Fast and Furious ride. The audience giggled at some of the outrageous stunts, but the actors take it pretty seriously. This time they get chased by a Russian submarine.
Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, music videos for so many big names) put his stamp on this one with screenwriter Chris Morgan (Fast and Furious series). The previous installment of this franchise, Fast and Furious 7, broke records with $1 billion at the box office worldwide. This is on the fast track, too. It’s takes the action to Cuba, the first movie to be shot there since the 50 year embargo was lifted.
Gray was well suited to get the usual suspects up and running again. This is the first film in the series without Paul Walker, but he’s not forgotten. There’s Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, “Ludacris, and Jason Statham. Statham is back as the good bad guy. Gray had already worked with Statham and Charlize Theron on the 2003 Italian Job. (We saw that premiere driving our own Mini Cooper, which we still have, through an obstacle course)
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and Scott Eastwood as Little Nobody, are Government agents who provide just enough comic relief. Russell is mostly bluster but looks good in his sunglasses. Eastwood is mainly the clueless young agent who learns to respect the team. The formula is followed to the letter. And we wish we could have seen more of Helen Mirren on screen. She is a stitch in the movie, but so underutilized.
It feels like all of the actors are each in their own movie. They don’t seem to be interacting much with each other. Dom and Letty (Diesel and Rodriguez) are supposed to be madly in love, but the steam seems to be rather cool in this romance. It’s not a big part of the story. Their love for cars hurtling in air is much hotter.
We also understand that there was some tension between “the Rock” and Diesel. Apparently they don’t like each other, for real, and they don’t have many scenes together. Maybe that was for a reason. Wonder if they’ll both be in the next one.
The interesting part of this plot is that Dom and Letty are supposedly on their honeymoon and Brian and Mia have retired. The rest of the crew has been let off and are living their own lives. But when Theron seduces Dom with a plan he can’t refuse or get out of, she makes him turn on his own “family” and trouble ensues. Of course, it includes mega vehicle chases, crashes and explosions, and a race against time to keep the nasty villain Cipher played by Theron from blowing up the world with a nuclear armed submarine. She has another trick up her sleeve, too!
Ludacris and Tyrese are fun playing off each other, but the plot is pretty ludicrous otherwise. No matter. This film has enough action shot hand held to keep you ducking in your seat, and enough cars being destroyed and fire to keep the sizzle going.
Theron is a good villain who puts the screws on Diesel She never fires a gun or throws a punch but devastates all opposition with computer key strokes. She's low key and absolutely chilling. She’s the most convincing of the bunch.
Having the sub act as a battering ram is as big as you can get. But how a sub can catch up with vehicles traveling 100 mph is pretty unrealistic. It’s just a massive piece of weaponry to fill up the screen.
That said, you don’t go to these films for realism. It is cartoonish non-stop action that tries to interweave the theme that these friends are more like family. Believable or not, it runs 2 hours and 15 minutes, but there’s so much action, time flies like the cars.