Fast & Furious 8 (aka “The Fate of the Furious”) (2017), kicks off with ‘Dom’ (Vin Diesel) getting blackmailed into betraying his much-loved “family” by a boring-ass cyber-terrorist/second-rate-Bond-villain named ‘Cipher’ (Charlize Theron). I really don’t know what the Oscar-winning actress was going for here, either in terms of her performance or her character’s distracting “hair-don’t”, but her scenes are a real snore-fest. I also think it would’ve made for a much more suspenseful/engaging flick if we (the audience) hadn’t seen Dom being reluctantly coerced into switching sides, and were actually led to believe that he’d hooked up with Cypher for real… though obviously that would have meant far less screen-time for Diesel (as the supposed “villain”), so it’s unlikely he would have signed-off on that! Meanwhile, we got what I’d describe as an “adequate amount” of ‘Letty’ (Michelle Rodriguez), in the sense that she had enough to say and do to keep me watching, but none of it was very exciting or memorable… especially compared to her epic stunts and fight scenes in previous instalments. It’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “perfunctory”. I will admit to feeling a little ripple of emotion when she and Dom got back together at the end, but I think that’s purely because I’m so fond of M-Rod already, and like to see her happy.*
Meanwhile, the only other female characters were Dom’s old squeeze ‘Elena’ (Elsa Pataky) who was being held hostage by Cipher along with her baby (which many commentators have pointed out is far too young to actually be Dom’s child, considering how much his nephew aged between F&F6 and F&F7)… and ‘Ramsey’ (Nathalie Emmanuel), who contributes very little beyond a typically hilarious “competitive hacking” scene, in which she and Theron randomly mash computer-keys while staring intently at their respective screens and commenting aloud about how tricky their opponent is being. Tee-hee! Oops, no, almost forgot Helen Mirren’s uncredited cameo as ‘Magdalene Shaw’, the (“cockney”?) mother of ‘Deckard’ (Jason Statham) and ‘Owen’ (Luke Evans), which added plenty of (intentional) comic relief, but was also kinda confusing in terms of the plot… in that it’s not immediately obvious how Dom got from his car to the bar where he meets her… or how/why he arranged for the Cuban baddy (Celestino Cornielle) from the opening scene to be the one who blocks Cypher’s view of this vanishing act. Shrug.
There were a couple things I enjoyed here though: The opening car race was good, dumb (psychics-defying) fun, and the prison breakout scene was a real blast, even if it seemed to suggest that ‘Hobbs’ (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard are straight-up super-humans now! I really don’t think they did enough work to sell/earn the latter’s redemption, but Statham’s such a charismatic performer, and they gave him so much funny stuff to do, that I really don’t care. Dude stole the whole movie with that “rescue-the-baby” run-and-gun on the plane! Also, after complaining about Letty only being allowed to face-off against female opponents in past chapters, I have to give them credit for letting her beat-up a dude this time around… even if he was just a random, anonymous goon.
As for the extras: I hate to say it, but director F. Gary Gray’s commentary track is a bit of a chore to get through, because he has an unfortunate habit of simply describing what’s happening onscreen at the time, or teasing upcoming plot-twists as if we hadn’t already seen the whole movie! That said, he’s very upbeat and effusive about getting the opportunity to work with all of the cast members, especially Mirren who he repeatedly describes as “the queen”, and he lauds M-Rod’s acting choices (highlighting the scene where she nabs the “nuclear football” case from Dom in particular), as well as the history/chemistry between her and Diesel. He also gushes over her action scenes, hailing her as “kick-ass”, “hard-core”, and “such a really great talent”, before declaring “I love her, she’s awesome”, so clearly the man has great taste! Apparently Gray also fought hard to include the penultimate scene where Dom introduces his newly-discovered son to Letty and seeks her approval, with the director insisting that it shouldn’t be a foregone assumption that she’d accept this unexpected “blessing” into her life, and I’m definitely with him on that one.
* Apparently she gets a bit more screen-time in the “Extended Director’s Cut”, but they didn’t bother including that on the disc (or any disc anywhere, as far as I can tell), so I can’t really comment. There’s a digital-download-code for it included in the case, but the “Ultraviolet Library” where you’re supposed to redeem it went bye-bye last year, so that’s a bust. Gah! Apparently, there was also an Asda-exclusive DVD version with a bonus disc boasting another 30-mins of extras, but at this point in the lockdown I don’t really have enough spare energy or cash to bother hunting that down…