OK, first things first, yeah? If the testosterone fuelled, physics mocking, rubber burning, super-franchise that is the Fast & Furious universe still isn’t your thing then you might wanna knock a few stars off the above rating right now, because this really ain’t for you.
For everybody else (considering that this film has made all of the money, that must be the majority) it’s business as usual.
Sweaty biceps, screaming engines and roaring fireballs continue to be the order of the day with a few changes.
Firstly, it must be said that what really sells this instalment is the expanded roles of three of the more savvy actors of the rapidly expanding cast.
Kurt Russell, riding the crest of yet another career resurgence, returns as the perpetually perky government spook Mr Nobody, peering at his ludicrous surroundings through shades, thoroughly amused at the craziness swirling around him. One suspects Russell didn’t have to act much.
The second MVP is The Stath. Upgraded from villain to team member this time round thanks to some serious ret-conning that virtually breaks it’s back in trying to make him a misunderstood good(ish) guy. The fact that he murdered a member of their team a while back isn’t even properly broached, but his snide sneering at the white hats and a fantastic late in the day riffing on John Woo’s Hard Boiled during the climax makes his shift to the side of the angels welcome, if utterly baffling.
The third and final great point is, of course, Dwyane Johnson’s hulking supercop Hobbs. Whether flexing rubber bullets of his massive pecs or ripping up a concrete bench to keep up with his reps, Hobbs is the perfect poster boy to how awesomely stupid this series has become. The double act he has going with Jason Statham not only plays up to both their physical and comedic strengths (Statham in particular is as funny here as he was in Spy) but produces the best action set piece to boot. A monumentally entertaining prison break executed with nothing but fists, feet and wisecracks.
The rest of the cast are fine, falling into their regular rhythm in amongst the flames and numerous cameos, although rather worryingly, Vin Diesel seems to be taking all this guff seriously, gruffly stomping from one scene to the next switching from angry to very angry and not much else.
With at least two more episodes guaranteed, it’s curious where the Fast And Furious movies can actually go next. It doesn’t get much bigger than a submarine exploding from the deep and scattering cars like toys or hundreds of remote controlled cars raining from a car park like an auto-vehicle World War Z and unless Diesel and Co. are gonna start drag racing on Mars, I can’t fathom where else the films can go.
However, it’s gonna be fun finding out.