The first Fast and the Furious film after the death of Paul Walker changes speed, and I’m not saying the series jumped the shark, but the speed has changed from fast to ludicrous. The cast is huge, with some big hitters in supporting roles, including a wonderful cameo appearance by Helen Mirren.
We learn that the mastermind behind the villainous capers in the previous films is Cipher (Charlize Theron) and while Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are in Cuba, she blackmails him into walking away from his wife, and his team to work with her.
We are left, for a short time, without knowing why, but the revelation is fairly solid, and happily we know that despite the fact that Dom is now working with Cipher he must have a plan of sorts so we just have to buckle up and hold on. And almost everyone shows up, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Shaw (Jason Statham), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) to work to stop Cipher and Dom, as they get their hands on an EMP weapon (that seems to work directionally and not quite the way they actually work, or as well) and are readying to steal a Russian nuclear sub, with missiles that they have the launch codes for.
So we’ve come from street racing all the way up to some next-level spy shit, with a lot more gunplay than the series started with.
Chris Morgan who has written all of the Fast and the Furious films from Tokyo Drift on, so there’s a wonderful sense of continuity, but he seems intent on upping the ante with each film, and introducing fun and beyond believable moments, and enjoyable characters. And speaking of enjoyable characters, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is back, and he’s brought along a new recruit, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood, who really looks like his dad in this one).
There’s a lot of great locations in this film, including New York, Germany, Iceland and Cuba (!) and the visual and practical effects continue to be top-notch, and there’s some great camera work which sees cameras actually on vehicles through some of the solid stunts and visuals.
Both this film, and the previous film lack Justin Lin’s enthusiastic shooting style though James Wan’s efforts were great! and Gray definitely imbues his with a sense of over-the-top fun and character beats that resonate because of how far we’ve come with the characters.
But like I said, it’s way beyond ludicrous at this point, but damn, if the series isn’t fun. I didn’t like this one as much as some of the previous entries, but it was a helluva ride. And while I wait now for F9, which sees the return of Justin Lin, but without a script by Chris Morgan, I still have one more entry to watch in the universe, the spinoff film, Hobbs & Shaw!