About 16 years ago, Hollywood churned out a film about Los Angeles street-racing modeling it after a hit ’90s action flick going by the name of Point Break. It starred Paul Walker and Vin Diesel with Walker playing a moonlighting cop in pursuit of the fugitive Dominic Toretto, as so memorably portrayed by Diesel in The Fast and the Furious. Who knew that this cool, vehicular action-thriller grew up to become a cash-generating blockbuster franchise that eventually sported an enlarged scope, and a scale that is bigger than it ever was? Now, 7 films later, we get a supposedly more epic installment that excitedly wants to crank up almost everything that we ever loved about this franchise.
What do we get? Fast & Furious 8 – also known as the film in the series that unintentionally makes fun of itself without even knowing it. It’s indirectly, and unconsciously a satire, but it’s not a good one either. Making a check-list of everything Fast & Furious, and ticking them off one by one with all it’s got, it’s hard not to see how much it renders the dearly efforts of the last one as a warm finale as useless. It goes on and on, kicking off a new phase to explore, seeming like as if it’s trying to make every little action movie feel jealous because of its dumb enormity. Writer Chris Morgan could take the biggest blame here, as he tries to fire up an engine that is already quite rusty by encircling characters in extreme conflict. All of that may sound and look ambitious to the senses of many, but to ours, they definitely aren’t. To begin with, the dialogue written on the wall for the actors to read feels so off that they just mawkishly deliver them with the intention of making us laugh even if it’s clear to see that they plan to strike with dramatic intensity stemming from forced emotions. The family dynamics that had been sitting since the series’ humble beginnings is nudged with a storyline so contrived and complex yet so non-discernible that you won’t just care for its twists anyway since it throws your focus off of it in favor of the explosive spectacles afoot. Since it wants to show us how far these films had gone, it treats us to all the goods, and blows them up in our faces with no remorse. Most notably, the high-budgeted set pieces comprised of maximum absurdity will melt your brain, but nonetheless, will keep you entertained for the time being. That is, if you try to switch it off and not let itself take its course in analyzing every single glaring flaw present in the area. Because we’re so accustomed to Justin Lin’s sleek direction, and James Wan’s nuance, those who are looking for that exact same feel will only be bugged off by F. Gary Gray’s floundering takeover that narrows down to the shortage of genuine fun and thrills. There’s almost no sense of organization to every scene that he makes, and that is part of the many reasons why it drags so insufferably that it makes time seem like an illusion the moment you get your gears grinded in its dreadful confines.
The characters that you’ve been with before are only shells of their former selves, while the actors that play them look desperate to keep us impressed as they banter weakly for a paycheck. An exception to that though is Dwayne Johnson’s and Jason Statham’s throwing of hilarious lines which turns out to be one of the few things in the film that is worth embracing next to Charlize Theron’s arrival as a menacing albeit outrageous villain. Aside from all that, there isn’t a lot to look out for. Action? It’s abundant in that. Story? Eh. Characters? Pass. It’s all dull, bloated, and foolishly “bold”. It isn’t worthy of the “glorious” namesake of the franchise, and could’ve been any other film created for the sake of “entertainment”. Directed by F. Gary Gray of Straight Outta Compton fame, Fast & Furious 8 revs up, and races to the finish line making the loudest noise possible – probably so loud that it almost becomes disorienting enough to drive you literally insane. It exchanges simple logic for melodrama, fun for rambunctiousness, and it is anything but ultimately rewarding. Evidently, the driver behind the wheel couldn’t handle the heavy load that this vehicle carries, and as a result, it meets its fate in a cliff of oblivion. Action fans could have some of it, and fans might or might not be gratified, but to lay it down easily, let’s just say that, it’s about time that this vehicle got wrecked completely since it’s just running on fumes anyway.
- Fast & Furious 8 opens in Philippine cinemas on Black Saturday, April 15. Also available in IMAX. Distributed by United International Pictures Philippines.