This is the eighth film in the ever chart topping successful Fast & Furious franchise. If you suspected this would mean they slow things down you are absolutely mistaken. They manage to top the previous film’s action and also manage to tell a compelling story while doing so. To that end I say without reservation that story-wise this film is by far the best written film in the franchise. It almost perfectly sets up the dominoes to fall just right. Notice I said almost. With just one writer on this film it is a minor flaw to most, but as you read on below you will suddenly question the rest of the film and perhaps see it as a major flaw in writing.
Here come the spoilers.
This film kicks off with an old school street race on the streets of Havana. It’s really gritty and starts the story’s foreshadow of Dom’s desire to have a child. The next day Dom crosses paths with a woman who has something on him that will make him choose to betray his team; surprising, as the last few films in the franchise have clearly made a strong theme of family. This woman, played with cold steel malice by Charlize Theron, is a mysterious super hacker named Cipher who has covertly amassed money, die hard mercenaries, super hackers, weapons and bleeding edge technology to keep her untraceable and allow her to fly around the world undetectable by any nation on the globe. Remember this for later.
Jason Statham’s character, Decker, is back and the scenes in the prison with Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs are superb. He also has a spectacular action sequence on a plane towards the end of the film which really lets Statham shine. The races and actions sequences are fast paced and expertly executed. The stakes are raised appropriately and all seems lost with no hope for Dom Toretto or his team. Or is it? Luckily Dom had a plan from the beginning. Of course he did. With all of these dominoes lined up action-wise and story-wise the audience is in for a thrill. But wait. The first domino is crucial to fall before the rest can. Now it’s time for me to reveal the films smallest, yet most crucial flaw – communication.
The film does a great job revealing what Cipher has on Dom. His former lover, Elena, and his son, who he didn’t know about until a couple days prior when he met Cipher, is being held hostage by her. The film did have a quick scene of Dom soldering something right before getting the call from Hobbs to bring his team to Berlin for a mission. Later it is revealed he was soldering a tracking chip to his cross in that scene. Oh wait I am not done with that scene. The chip protrudes out the back of the cross and has a flashing LED. Let me repeat that; a flashing LED. Dom was just seeing Cipher’s reflection in the glass wall as he was visiting Elena and his son. A red flashing LED would be far too noticeable. Yet that isn’t the flaw. The next gen plane is evading all radars, satellites, etc so therefore it must also have sensors to detect rogue signals coming in and out of the plane. Especially signals that would allow it to be tracked. Still not the flaw…stay with me. This plane also would have tightly controlled communications systems given a super hacker is running the operation. She has a mic and video surveillance on Dom 24/7. Even before she meets Dom it can be safely assumed she had all of his communications tapped, and, after he is on her plane all of his devices confiscated. So what’s the flaw? How did Dom arrange to meet Deckard’s mother, get the Cuban guy from the race at the beginning of the film to be where he needed him to be with the moving truck, identify all of the cameras in that area to know exactly where to drive and park the car? None of this is possible without communication. There is simply way too much information to pass along to accomplish all of these tasks – especially under the ever watchful eyes of Cipher and her team. Not to mention the plane would quickly detect any rogue communications coming from the plane. Let that sink in a bit.
The film includes some flashbacks to reveal that Dom didn’t kill Deckard, Deckard meets with mother, the Cuban guy helped Dom, two other guys from previous films pose as medics, and his cross tracker leads Deckard and his brother, the villain from the 6th film, to the plane to retrieve Dom’s son. Even if we suspend all disbelief and assume he did all of this communication before he got on her plane, how did he know New York was next? Oh, and one last cherry on top – he used the God’s Eye on Cipher’s plane to track Deckard’s brother who is locked away in an unknown secret prison. Again something Cipher would have detected and shut down. Unless she isn’t as good a hacker as the film wants us to believe.
Now how can we fix this movie wrong with writing? I admitted in the start of this review that it’s the best written story of the franchise so far and with just one writer I am very impressed. It isn’t easy being a writer and sometimes things get left out, unaddressed, or unexplained. Sometimes you don’t need to explain everything, but given that you put a super hacker as your main villain you have to do better to show how a non-hacker like Dom is going to take her down. The only way to right this movie ‘wrong’ is to insert a flashback showing how Dom managed communications under the nose of Cipher. Just not plausible.
In conclusion, the writing just needs to fix the first domino of communication for Dom. Then the story sticks a solid landing for the rest of the dominoes to fall in a perfect adrenaline pumped action film with a high stakes, great tension and a plausible plot.