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Review: Fast and Furious 8 overdoes the stupid and gets stuck in the slow lane

PUBLISHED: 09:24 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:24 20 April 2017

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Charlize Theron as Cipher in Fast and Furious 8. Picture: Universal

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Charlize Theron as Cipher in Fast and Furious 8. Picture: Universal

© Universal Pictures

The eighth instalment of the action franchise fails to make the most of the action sequences and is overstuffed with recurring chracters and Helen Mirren as a cockney mum.

Fast and Furious 8 (12A)

**

Are you still curious about the Furious? Probably, but this eighth outing may well be the moment when that starts to wane.

The appeal of these films has always been the cast and the stunts. The cast were always this ragtag bunch of losers and no hopers who got lucky. Being in the audience was like happening to be in the bar when a lottery winner announced the drinks were on them. You shared their joy, but at the same time got to look down on them because they still had to demean themselves making F&F.

Now some proper actors have started poking their noses in and they spoil the fun; they are like grown ups trying to join in the party games and talking down to the children.

Watching Helen Mirren play an old cockney mum going on about nice cuppas is meant to be all a right big larf, but it isn’t, it feels very much like we’re being mugged off.

It’s also an issue that every sequel dredges up more cast members and it is now overstuffed with familiar faces turning up to do their bit. And none of them are much fun, not any more.

Of all the cast, nobody has it worse than Michelle Rodriquez. The plot has her husband Vin Diesel being seduced away by evil Charlize Theron and turning against the family (but not really) and she is the one who has to pretend that there is some kind of emotional investment in these films, which really is demeaning.

The film opens in Havana with a bit of street racing that is moderately entertaining. Diesel has to customise an old banger to a potentially explosive degree.

Justin Lin, who made parts 3-6, isn’t much of a director but he can really shoot car chases. In constrast director of this instalment F. Gary (Straight Out Of Compton) Gray has learnt to do aerial shots that sweep over a procession of moving cars but he otherwise fails to make the most of the action sequences.

Jason Statham has a sequence with a baby that is a poor shadow of one John Woo did in Hard Boiled 25 years ago, while the epic car chase across an ice field is vast and overblown yet somehow far less effective than the one that climaxed the Harry Palmer adventure Billion Dollar Brain, a film directed by Ken Russell 50 years ago.

A lot of F&F 8 is taken up with braggadocio and macho squaring up. Overall the problem with the film is that it overdoes the stupid.

These days just-turn-your-brain-off-for-a-couple-of-hours escapism doesn’t look quite so much fun anymore, mostly because it doesn’t seem like an escape form the real world, just more of the same.

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