April 15, 2017 -- The enormously popular Fast and Furious franchise, which has been building in momentum since the fourth film in the series (Fast & Furious in 2009) is able to achieve the seemingly impossible: To make each film larger in scale, more elaborate, with more outrageous stunts, and with more spectacle than all the earlier films. It seems like the phrase “over the top” was coined with the Fast and Furious movies in mind.
That the climax of this film should be an attack submarine chasing cars across a frozen lake, should come as a big surprise to nobody. What's next? Hot rods versus alien spaceships? It is mindless action (as if a Lamborghini can't easily outrun a submarine) but it is fun mindless action, with a healthy dose of humor, along with a “oh come on, don't take this seriously” attitude. Well, there is one serious scene.
In this film, a lot of stuff from the past catches up with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) as he goes rogue, stealing an electromagnetic pulse generator as part of a plan to blackmail the nations of the world using stolen nuclear weapons. In this case, the past includes his former lover, Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) and past enemies, brothers Deckard and Owen Shaw (Jason Statham and Luke Evans) all of whom are played by actors reprising their roles from previous films in this series.
A new character, Cipher (played by Charlize Theron of “Mad Max Fury Road”) is a computer hacker behind the plot to control the world with stolen nukes. She is holding hostages in order to control Toretto. Shadowy government operatives known as Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood, son of Clint) recruit Toretto's team, Letty, Roman, Tej Parker and others, as well as the computer hacker Ramsey, Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) Deckard and Owen Shaw, to try to stop Cipher's plot.
All of these characters have been in previous films in the series and all (except for Cipher who was not seen in the previous films) are played by the same actors who originally played these characters. Another new character arrives at a key moment in the movie to help Toretto in his hour of need.
The film opens in Cuba. This is said to be the first major movie to have major scenes filmed in Cuba in many years for political reasons. There is a car race in Havana between vintage American cars, resulting in Toretto's car being engulfed in flames. From there, like a James Bond movie, the story is a travelogue, with segments taking place around the world from New York to Siberia.
While the audience learns pretty quickly what Cipher has on Toretto, his team is unaware of why Toretto is working against them until very late in the film, but they have faith in him anyway, especially Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) Toretto's wife. Cipher's top minion is the stone cold killer Rhodes (played by Kristofer Hivju of “Force Majeure”).
Although the catch phrase “family no more” was used to promote this film, it is still all about friends and family, as well as fast cars and hot women in short skirts. Cold killers and warm sentimentality is an odd mix, but it is a winning formula in the Fast and Furious franchise, and it pays off again in this episode. While it is not quite as good as the previous two films in this series, it is still solidly entertaining. This film rates a B.
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