Eight laps into the Fast and Furious franchise, there are several signposts that fans like me look forward to – Vin Diesel's matte or metallic black Dodge Charger in various souped up forms, Tyrese Gibson's baffled reactions and one-liners, the villain from a previous film becoming an ally, and of course (my personal favourite), you. Or, more specifically, whomever happens to have won the latest Sexy Race Starter position from a casting process I can only dream about.
You're not just a face, or an ass, or a body (though there are tightly defined prerequisites for each). You actually need to be able to speak. In a crowded market place with countless lookalikes, you need to hold back insane levels of horse power, command everyone's attention, and then signal the film's most put-upon race sequence. All this, while quickly proving your worthiness of such a lauded and lusted after position in the spotlight. And in that sense, you embody the very spirit of the entire Fast and the Furious franchise: incredible eye candy that comes out of nowhere with boundless energy, unbridled confidence, and a winking sense of humour.
Be honest, you know that skirt's ridiculous. But damn if you don't sell the hell out of it.
Your big moment comes, as they all do in the new crime-fighting iteration of the series, very early in the film. Dominik Toretto has taken refuge in the antiquated streets of Havana, and gets into an old school, chest-thumping, gear-grinding showdown with the city's Big Man. His assertion that races are won by the driver, not the machine, is put to the test when he's assigned a rusted out jalopy (fitted with nitro boosters, obviously). You give him and the audience a big wind up and a wink, and we're off to the races, without any doubt how this race or any other chase will all turn out. But we didn't come into this wondering what would happen, or even why. It's all about how. How are you guys going to live up to what's come before and still get our blood pumping?
The answers come via a wrecking ball, a submarine, and a hundred car pile-up in Manhattan. Plus a dozen familiar and welcome moments handled by brawny men and buxom women who take vehicular spectacle to new heights and speeds.
It almost seems pointless to pretend my mind is even processing these films anymore. They are closer to an I.V. of adrenaline straight through the eye balls and eardrums. I could complain about the relatively low stakes in this film compared to the meta-emotional wallop of Furious 7, or the on screen consequences of Fast &Furious 6, or the lack of bar-raising , compared to the game-changing entry in the series, Fast 5. Yet between Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and a few surprise appearances, there was still more than enough energy to carry this film past the finish line.
Waving you on,