After a number of impressive, genuinely entertaining entries, the long-running “Fast and the Furious” series derails a bit in this eight (!) entry. On paper, having Charlize Theron join the cast as the villain sounds like a good idea: After all, Theron doesn’t shy away from franchises or genre entries, and she brings a significant amount of cache with her. Unfortunately, she’s entirely miscast: She takes the role dead seriously, which is admirable but also robs the movie of its entertainment factor. Whenever she’s on screen, the movie forgets its semi-serious, banter-heavy roots and instead becomes a serious action thriller, and is all the more tedious and forgettable for it. The usual crew is here (sans Paul Walker, who passed away while shooting the previous entry), but this time Vin Diesel is blackmailed by Theron onto the villain’s side, and it contributes to spoiling the familial and familiar vibe established by the other entries. Mind you, the climax is crazy good in all its glorious, over-the-top excesses, but after more than two hours, the resolution can’t come faster (and it’s hard not to notice that not much is resolved by the end, which robs the audience of a cathartic conclusion following so much unpleasantness). Helen Mirren pops up a few times as Jason Statham’s mother, and while the movie gets a lot of mileage out of her incongruity, it’s not enough to rescue the overall experience.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)