Very few film franchises reach an eighth instalment, but the Fast and Furious movies have never really looked like slowing down.
What started as a series that paid homage to fast cars and introduced a likeable bunch of characters has slowly turned into an action series that isn’t afraid to speed beyond the realms of possibility.
Love it or hate it, very few non-superhero films bring the action like the Fast and Furious crew – and slice number eight is possibly the most bombastic yet.
The first film not to feature the late Paul Walker, Fast 8 feels (amazingly) like the start of perhaps a new trilogy within the massive series.
It introduces a new uber villain in Cipher (the always excellent Charlize Theron) and changes the status quo in a way fans of the series would never have expected.
That’s right, lead character Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) betrays his “family” this time around – a fact the trailer made absolutely no secret of.
He joins up with hacker queen Cipher (for reasons you’ll have to discover for yourself) to help her perform a host of dastardly acts, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.
Naturally, Kurt Russell’s super-agent Mr Nobody wants Dom’s old team of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) to hunt them down.
They’re joined by arch enemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and agent in training Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) in what turns into the typical thrill ride across locations that include New York, Cuba and Russia.
The story, as always, is easy to follow. But, with Dom switching sides, it’s packed full of more emotion than usual, which makes for some great scenes.
By now, Diesel’s Dom wouldn’t seem out of place in The Avengers. He’s essentially become a super soldier who can perform impossible, death-defying acts of bravery (and stupidity).
Similarly, Johnson and Statham have some stellar action sequences of their own, including a show-stealer from the latter (on a plane) in what is the character’s best moment in the series so far.
The rest of the cast are their usual selves, with the banter between Tej and Roman as funny (and relentless) as ever.
There are some great cameo appearances too, including a series debut for Helen Mirren, who steals every scene she’s in.
As for the action, it’s all hi-octane stuff. Be it a wave of cars wrecking Manhattan, or a submarine firing missiles at our heroes, there really is no time to take a breath.
That’s the beauty of the Fast and Furious series for me. Sure, it can be cheesy as hell and largely unbelievable at times.
But, if you’re willing to leave your brain and logic at the door, few films are better on the big screen.
If, like me, you’ve grown to care about the characters, Fast 8 is simply more of the same awesome action you’ll be accustomed to.
But, if the series hasn’t impressed you to date, I can’t say that you’re going to change your view this time around.
Directed by Straight Outta Compton’s F Gary Gray, this is a non-stop thrill ride that is guaranteed to be followed by at least one more film.
There’s plenty more they can do with this set of characters and I’m excited to see what happens next.
That’s because, in the Fast and Furious universe, anything is possible.
And that’s surely an outlook any film fan can get on board with.
Voice Verdict: 9/10 (reviewed at Boston’s West End Cinema)
+ Awesome, relentless action
+ Dom’s heel turn
+ Typically strong cast, including the excellent Theron
+ Sets up Fast 9
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, April 21 to Thurs, April 27)
**GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 (12A)
3D – Midnight screening Thursday night/Friday morning
**GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 1 AND 2 DOUBLE BILL 2D (12A)
**THEIR FINEST (12A)
12.40pm (Sat/Sun/Weds), 3.20pm (daily), 6pm (daily), 8.40pm (daily)
FAST AND FURIOUS 8 (12A)
11am (Sat/Sun), 2pm (Sat/Sun/Weds), 3.20pm (Fri/Mon/Tues/Thurs), 5.15pm (daily), 7pm (Fri/Tues), 8.20pm (daily)
GOING IN STYLE (12A)
3.20pm (not Sat/Sun), 8.20pm (not Tues/Thurs)
THE BOSS BABY (U)
2D – 10am (Sat/Sun), 2.40pm (Sat/Sun), 4.20pm (not Sat/Sun), 6pm (daily)
3D – 12.20pm (Sat/Sun)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (12A)
12.30pm (Wed), 2.20pm (Sat/Sun), 5.25pm (daily), 8.15pm (daily)
PEPPA PIG: MY FIRST CINEMA EXPERIENCE (U)
10am (Sat/Sun), Noon (Sat/Sun)
SMURFS THE LOST VILLAGE (U)
10am (Sat/Sun), Noon (Sat), 2.10pm (Sun)
Sat/Sun 10.15am – Ballerina (U)
Wed 11.30am – Going In Style (12A)/ One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest (15)
Tuesday 4.20pm – The Boss Baby (U)
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED