Haters love to complain that this increasingly barmy petrolhead action series has reached its eight episode with no sign of stopping. But would the same argument apply to, say, a decades-long TV soap opera? Deep down, that's all the Fast & Furious franchise is – it just happens to be on the big screen, cost millions of dollars and feature souped-up sports cars jumping over submarines.
The villain this time is Cipher (Charlize Theron), a platinum blonde criminal mastermind (aren’t they all?) with a cunning plan to bring Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) back to the dark side. But Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the rest of their ever-expanding crew of wiseass jalopy jockeys have no intention of letting Dom go. He’s family, goddammit!
So begins the obligatory globe-trotting free-for-all, as our heroes abandon their bolthole in Havana and head briefly to Berlin, followed by a wild time on the streets of New York and a sub-smashing showdown in an Arctic shipyard. Of course, there are strays to pick up along the way: Scott Eastwood’s buttoned-up military man, Kurt Russell’s shady government fixer and – gloriously, hilariously – Helen Mirren as Jason Statham’s drawling, nicotine-stained Cockney mum.
The action scenes are competently handled by ‘Straight Outta Compton’ director F Gary Gray: there’s nothing here to rival the tactile intensity of series peak ‘Fast Five’, though the New York sequence has its share of OTT grip-the-handrest moments. Overall, there’s a sense that ‘Fast and Furious 8’ knows exactly where it wants to go and won’t bust a gasket getting there: you might ask for a little more character work here, a few more plot surprises there, but on the whole this rattles along just fine.