Furious 8…the Verdict

I first watched Fast and the Furious when I was 11 years old. 8 movies in and I saw the latest release at the age of 27 and I saw it before you did! Well, I see a lot of movies before you do but many movies are terrible so I don’t brag about it. Furious 8, however, was something to brag about seeing. in the 17 year time-span since the first film, MXiT came and went, we’ve had 6 seasons and a movie of Community and drunk an average of 178 liters of pure alcohol per person (That’s no lie…do the math!) in South Africa.

So let’s get the obvious questions out of the way:

  1. Yes, Letty is still gorgeous;
  2. No, Dom never puts more than one hand on the steering wheel;
  3. Jason Statham!!!;
  4. No, the plot is not predictable as predictable as Toy Story was from the previews when I was five years old;
  5. No, it’s not a Netflix and chill kinda film; and of course…
  6. JASON STATHAM!!!

Now, let’s get the more serious things out of the way:

  1. If you’d like to see the Rock do the Haka with a bunch of prepubescent girls, watch this film;
  2. If you are a fan of things going (((BOOM))), watch this film;
  3. If you are depressed and need to outsource your awesomeness for 2 hours and 16 minutes, watch this film;
  4. If you’d like to see a baby being thrown around a flying plane in an epic fight, watch this film;
  5. If cars flying out of buildings and into submarines amid typical single syllable banter do it for you, watch this film; and of course…
  6. Jason Statham…so watch this film!

I was actually taken aback. This film still pales in comparison with the greats and even some of it’s predecessors but it’s certainly watchable without being disappointed. In fact, there are many elements that are actively entertaining. You’d think that by the 8th installment, the franchise would have become stale but not so.

Sure all the expected elements are there, from fast cars, to Don Omar music, to Ludah being the underrated master brick that holds the cast together and Tyrese Gibson being his usual typecast idiot self. While we’re talking cast, some changes in character are evident, Vin Diesel becomes more badass as he becomes more emotive than in the previous 7 installments. Kurt Russel gets a rookie which gives him more ammunition to be even more of a cool dick and the Rock actually puts more than two sentences together for some surprisingly engaging dialogue.

I must, however, talk to Charlize Theron’s performance which I’m struggling to determine whether I liked or not. I can sum it up as follows: Her Hollywood acting career blossomed in around 1997 which was just 2 years too late for her to act in Hackers. I suspect she’s bent up about not being in an awesome sci-fi hack-the-world kinda film and now that she’s been given the opportunity, she seemingly overdoes things. Then again, it is Charlize and she’s great regardless so I can forgive the overacting in parts…or perhaps she’s just not capable of being THAT much of a hardass…though I do now buy the Shortstraw line, “Charlize, Keanu is better than you” and I hope that they cast Keanu Reeves in the next film.

If you haven’t gotten the idea that I’m a mad Jason Statham fan yet, I’ll just let you know. Me, I love me some Jason! Typically this means that I’ll watch any film that he even cameos in but it’s also risky. One bad performance and I’ll be unable to continue to justify my Stathamphilia. Ergo, Jason had to bring it in this film and he did! Just thinking about his 2 major fight scenes in the film is enough to get me off this chair and hit the gym and start punchin-…

Okay, I’m back from the gym now! With a budget of $250 million, it would be difficult to make a ballsup with the cast. Fortunately, no such ballsup was made. The explosions were great, the crashes believable and Jason Statham even gets shot!

The writing strikes a good balance between maintaining the action you’d expect, adding action you wouldn’t expect and ventures into dialogue that, at times, is palatable. Credit to the writers for making a film that I can still enjoy in my late 20s despite having watched the first film when I was 11. Therein lies the rub, attracting new fans while retaining old ones becomes any franchise’s major difficulty and Furious 8 navigates those waters diligently and delightfully.

Sure, not everybody is going to enjoy this film but if you had to hedge your bets, this is the film that most likely going to entertain maximum people for maximum time. If there’s only one film that you watch this year, it’s probably not this one but if you’re able to indulge in two movies, make sure that Furious 8 is one of them.