All y’all know Furious 7 was my first watched of the franchise, and this eighth installment was drift partner’s first. But when we saw a trailer that included Charlize Theron dramatically intoning “There’s thousands of cars in this city and now they’re all mine” we knew we had to go. Opening weekend. To a theater where we could purchase alcohol to consume while we were watching.
And boy howdy, were we not disappointed. This movie, like its predecessor(s?), is incredibly stupid but in the most delicious way. I was trying to give drift partner what little background I could beforehand and the best I could do was a couple of anecdotes and character facts followed by “they’re like the Suicide Squad but of cars.” And, obviously, much better than the actual cinematic Suicide Squad.
I, drift partner, had sort of idly been intending to see these movies based on recommendations from friends, but this trailer dangled the idea of crazy Charlize AND ridiculous car chases in front of me and I am powerless when presented with crazy Charlize. I will watch crazy Charlize Theron do basically anything. I knew I was in for a treat when the first scene of this movie involved Vin Diesel stripping off the doors and trunk of a VW Bug in order to soup up the engine for a race, in such a way that it made it literally LIGHT ON FIRE at one point. I am not a car person, I have no idea what he did, but it was glorious. And then when he won the race, his opponent tried to give Vin Diesel his car, as per their agreement, and said Vin had his respect. Vin Diesel said, “Keep your car. Your respect is good enough for me.” It was so ridiculous and batshit and I loved it. I don’t think I stopped smiling for longer than about two minutes.
Here’s the thing that we’ve come to realize, that has doubtless been realized by many before us. In effect, these movies are the goofy action stupidity with a heart of gold. As they said probably no less than one hundred times, they’re about family. (The trailer alone says this word enough that if you were doing strong enough shots every time they said it – which we intend to do sometime with all of the movies, although with sips rather than shots – you could be blitzed by its conclusion.) It’s this big, ridiculous found family full of characters capable of kicking anyone’s ass any day who all work together out of their continued love for each other. Never mind that most of them have criminal pasts while Hobbs (The Rock) is FBI and Brian (Paul Walker), who obviously isn’t in this film although they didn’t kill him off they just said “we can’t bring Brian into this we promised we wouldn’t” and left it at that, has been an undercover agent as well. Never mind their different backgrounds, or the fact that Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) isn’t even a car person but a hacker, or anything. They’re family. That’s all there is to it.
Naturally this means that the conflict of the film is a question of that. Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a hacker thought to be, even by Ramsey, a conglomerate, blackmails Vin Diesel’s Dom to work for her. Why? Well, this is kind of revealed, sort of, eventually, in a casual recontextualizing of past movie plot points. He upsets his family by doing this, which Hobbs describes very gravely as him having “gone rogue,” and they spend the rest of the movie working against Cipher’s evil plan while also sort of trying to get Dom back to the side of good.
There are a lot of perfectly golden moments in this movie, but some just have to be seen to be believed. Some we feel comfortable alluding to are:
- Somebody is shielded from an enormous explosion by a protective circle of cars.
- At one point, a car is drawn and quartered.
- As if in answer to the cars coming out of the moving airplane in the last film, a car goes into a moving airplane.
- Helen Mirren is Jason Statham’s mother.
- Ramsey spends virtually all of her non-hacking/non-plot-forwarding time rolling her eyes at machismo bullshit and/or flirtatious comeons. Also, she wears a vest.
- Jason Statham plays the Chipmunks Christmas album for a baby to drown out the noise of him fighting bad guys.
- Hobbs’ daughter’s soccer team, which he coaches, performs the haka before their game.
- Someone drives a tank. Literally a tank.
- Someone uses a car door as a shield and a sled, at different points.
- Someone jumps over a submarine in a car. Yes, a submarine.
- The Rock weightlifts a concrete bench and uses a concrete wall as a punching bag.
- Much like he removed a cast on his arm by flexing his muscles in the last movie, he removes handcuffs the same way in this movie.
- Charlize Theron speaks entirely in cliches, and makes lines that are not naturally menacing sound vaguely menacing.
- As seen in the trailer, Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty literally shouts at Dom “are you gonna turn your back on family?” and… then he literally turns his back on his family and exits.
Drift partner just classified this franchise as “chaotic good.” Yes, exactly.
–your fangirl heroine.