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Review: Fast and Furious 8
Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent
Way back in 2001, the high speed thrills and butch Drama of The Fast and The Furious entertained a huge audience and birthed what would become a blockbusting franchise. The immediate sequels seemed to suggest the formula was on its way out until something really bizarre happened. In 2011 the fifth instalment of the series, Fast Five, abandoned the gravitas in place of the embraced largeness and inherent silliness, and do you know what, since then, the franchise has not really steered wrong.

So it is we arrive at Fast and Furious 8 and in the tradition of this series' last few entries, this next joyride in the F&F Saga goes bigger and even more over the top and, once again, is a knowingly preposterous and riotously entertaining crime caper.

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The film catches up with the team, who have become a family over their wars and battles together. However everything is about to be turned upside down when the unthinkable occurs and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) turns his back on his friends and family and joins forces with cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), which forces the stunned group to make some unlikely alliances of their own.

Logic, sensibility and indeed gravity, go out of the window here and this series is all the better for that approach. The set-pieces are massive and the plot brazenly presents itself as a Borne/Craig Bond cyber Thriller, with lashings of macho energy and petrol-powered insanity on top. The script offers some consistently funny moments alongside the mental metal bending action sequences, that are so defiant to the laws of physics that they'll give scientists a headache.

This film is - like parts 5, 6 and 7 - beef jerky blockbuster entertainment that realises what the audience wants and that's a good time. Yes, it is not masterful cinema (dodgy moments of editing, dialogue and some of Diesel's lines are indecipherable) but it never claims to be and the reviews calling it too much are rather escaping the point of this franchise, which aspires to go bigger with every movie but not lose the sense of fun and humour.

However in our acceptance of these movies being what they are, we should not devalue the strong moments they have had (think back to the genuinely poignant tribute to the late Paul Walker in Furious 7) and this latest offering is the same. The plot, while wildly overstuffed, actually attempts to tell a different story from the franchise norm and has its share of thrilling sequences. While Gray and his team capture the sheer madness of the action and despite the constant "family" drama stuff that people often mock, you are never bored, and even in the illogical moments, are never less than entertained by the frenzied explosion of loyalty, hustle, betrayal, muscles, ass kicking men and women and muscle cars!

Diesel is the focal point of the film and he does his thing as franchise regular Dominic but his character is not exactly the most charismatic on display, that would have to be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Luke Hobbs, who is fast becoming the reason this franchise is flourishing even more! Johnson is just like a tank in human form, tearing through proceedings with a smile and shoulders like a titan. Meanwhile we have Michelle Rodriguez doing what she is best at as Letty, Tyrese Gibson being an infectious goofball as Roman and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel as Taj and Ramsey being the brainy ones of the group, while the legendary Kurt Russell turns up once again as the cool customer intelligence operative "Mr. Nobody".

However the scene stealer really is Jason Statham, who is back as Deckard Shaw and harnesses his real comic energy (see the brilliant aeroplane shootout) and shows why he truly is one of the best action stars in years and has this real on screen presence and some under appreciated comic chops (remember how great he was in Paul Feig's Spy?!). While the best character in the film is Charlize Theron's venom-dripping villain Cipher, who would not be out of place in a 007 feature, with her dark philosophical monologues and cold, violent, menace. Theron truly owns the role. And then there's a certain Oscar Winner who harnesses her inner Eastenders and has a ball in a role that is both hilarious and joyously OTT!

The fact the film has recently broken worldwide opening records should be of little surprise, in the past this series seemed like it was running on fumes but since Part 5, this acceptance of silliness and fun continues to pay off for this series.

Ridiculously large and largely ridiculous...and they know it, Fast and Furious 8 is unashamed of what it is, straight up enjoyable vehicular insanity.

12A
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson
Release Date: Out Now

Review: Fast and Furious 8, 19th April 2017, 9:14 AM