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I have a confession to make. Charlize Theron's villainy in the eighth segment of the very fast and fairly furious franchise didn't scare me one bit. She is way too beautiful to be intimidating in any irrevocably evil way, even when she threatens to kill an adorable little baby.
And when we see her playing with her computer to nuke-destruct civilisation, we can only say, 'Baby, you can do it better with your killer looks.'
Fast & Furious 8 is a curious blend of wish fulfilment and fantasy play. It's partly froth and partly filth, like, junk food for the soul.
You know this is an fiercely formulistic con- game with appalling acting even by Oscar winners like Theron and Dama Helen Mirren who appears as Jason Statham's mom wearing too much makeup and looking out of place. From Shakespeare to Dwayne Johnson is like being caught between The Rock and a hard place.
But Dame Helen can claim solace in the company she keeps. Every character, big or small, appears ridiculous at some point in this irresistibly high-powered homage to the roar of the engines as they scrape roadways that have seen better days. The only actor who manages to create a credible character is Jason Statham. He takes the goings-on seriously and actually imparts an edgy enthusiasm to contempt-spewing lines thrown at Dwayne who seems to be happy just snarling his way through the storm.
Diesel actually sheds lengthy teardrops rolling down his chubby cheeks in a sequence that dares us to laugh.
The plot could have been written on toilet paper while the writer was daydreaming on the potty. It's one helluva heroic joyride for Dominic who while honeymooning in Havana (the city's aerial shots at the start of the film are a touristic delight) is accosted by the stunning villainess. The plot disbands the F & F gang only to bring them back together in unexpected ways when Dominic(Vin Diesel) turns traiter. But wait. Don't judge the Adude by his cover. He has a reason for bowing down to the bad woman's evil intentions.
Some of Theron's attempts at being mean are unintentionally hilarious. When Diesel's wife Letty (Michelle Rodrigeuez) is watching Theron catches hold of Diesel and smooches him on the lips.
Theron's character Cipher has never shown any romantic interest in Diesel in any part of the narrative. So why the kiss? We may well ask and by extension, why the film at all? Well, the answer to that lies in the velocity and vivacity with which the narratives gambols from stunt to stunt.
Fast & Furious continues to possess the power to surprise, shock and embarrass us, sometimes all together in a whoop of muddled emotions to go with the mixed martial arts that the characters throw at each other like kids pelting popcorn at a screening of Godzilla Goes Bananas.
This is a film that audaciously extends the parameters of its pyrotechnics, taking wild leaps of a faith and not caring about minor details like logic rationale and continuity. You will see a character at the beginning of the film racing his swanky car with Diesel's rickety van. You know that character is meant to appear somewhere again. But the writers just don't know where to put him.
But that's okay. There is room for everything and everyone in this baggy after-thought including a cute baby who is part of the film's climactic stunts. The baby, named Brian after the late much-missed Paul Walker, has a ball.
We do too. We don't miss Walker. There is no pause for nostalgia here.