FF8: A Rip-off

I like watching movies and I rarely felt that I got ripped-off after I watched one. There’s always something to learn from, something to be inspired by from every scene I see, but FF8 was just as confusing as it could be.

This movie is a total rip-off, of my money and my time. I don’t know about what anybody else thinks, because, hey, this note is only a personal opinion of mine. Complimenting FF8 for being a great movie is overrated, if the comment is not meant as sarcasm.

Let’s skip the summary of the movie plots and how they somehow were probably forcibly still related to FF1 to FF7. The first scenes of the movie were shot in Cuba. Cameras soon depicted the extreme differences between Havana and most cities in USA. Young energetic people were swarming the streets with minimum clothes on their backs. Was the first race Dom was involved with happening on weekend/public holiday? I didn’t know. If it had been on weekday, it would have been uncanny to have almost the whole city cheering for the impromptu racing between Dom and the self-proclaimed ruler of the island.

Now, let’s start the review with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Did I miss anything from previous franchises? Since when did Dom join government secret agency to perform secret missions, ones which couldn’t be traced back to the government of USA? Ever since Hobbs came into the screen, FF8 started to feel like a crossover between the original FF and XXX (whose cast was Vin Diesel. Surprise, surprise). Johnson’s priority lay in his daughter, but it didn’t sound, look, or seem convincing enough. He’s still the same Rock from The Mummy, all the way through G.I. Joe, right until FF8. That bulky body of his was his strength, but not his acting. As for Vin Diesel, yeah it’s the same difference with Johnson. The only time I was emotionally moved by his acting was when he saw his son for the first time (maybe it was because I was reminded of the cuteness of my own son). By the way, their attachment and constant wearing of tight and body-hugging undershirts made me wonder: what year is it? Is 2017 still the year of cute boy bands like *NSync with their slender and fit bodies? LOL.

The only reason I wanted to watch this movie was Charlize Theron. I was curious about how the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty portrayed the self-proclaimed world’s best hacker. My question was followed by another question after Cipher kissed Dom: o my queen, why hath thou abandoned thy throne? For her caliber, portraying Cipher was like a short slide to a career turn-off. She didn’t give distinguishing characters between the evil queen she portrayed in 2016 and the hacker she portrayed this year. Amazingly beautiful, checked. Cold and aloof, checked. Smart and manipulative, checked. What else? Nothing. Even her supposedly philosophical monologues when she was describing (or guessing, I couldn’t tell) Dom’s original natures sounded flat. I almost forgot how good she was in “Italian Job”, and how vulnerably romantic she was in “November Rain”. After seeing her in FF8, I’m not too excited to see her in the upcoming “Atomic Blonde”.

As for the government agents, Mr. Nobody was representing himself well. He’s a nobody, an unimportant and unforgettable character, to be honest. The rookie agent? I had to agree with Roman that he looked like he was recruited from a boy band. Tej and Roman’s interactions and jokes could have been developed further, but the movie timeline didn’t allow them to happen. If only they had reduced Dwayne Johnson smashing things and people in the jail scenes, Tej and Roman could have delivered more interesting dialogues. The female hacker with fake British accent, blah, not memorable at all. Dom’s wife? Same difference.

Now let’s get to the thought-provoking ideas in this movie. FF8 displayed the truth of our current world. Cameras are installed everywhere and we’re all connected online. A facial recognition of a face in Russia can be performed anywhere in the world as long as the internet is available. It gave me shiver that we can’t really hide from anything in this wholly-connected world. Even the cameras from traffic lights and ATM can be used to trace our whereabouts. In this movie, Cipher hacked the systems of self-driving cars and moved every car she could find in her radar to attack her operation target (Russia’s Ministry of Defense). I could imagine confused drivers having no control over their own vehicles. I could see chaos happening in the streets. Cipher also turned on the self-driving cars parked in high-rise parking lots, and made them all falling down to the streets and causing damage on the properties and the people. That scene gave me goose bumps, because it was possible to happen, it was very likely to happen sometimes in the future. A foolproof should be available if a machine fails to serve its original purpose. And the most important thing is man should have control over machine, not the other way around. If the other way around happens, we’re in a big trouble.

The only thing entertaining from FF8 was Jason Statham. Seriously, who would have thought that he’s such a cool Brit with gorgeous accent and intriguing sarcasm? Watching him speak was like watching Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear show. It was incredibly amusing. I never remembered Jason Statham to say much in any of his movies. His acting comprises only of his hand-to-hand combat skill and gunfight skill. But in FF8, wow, I must say, he was such a nice surprise. Ever since he was throwing insults to Hobbs’ face, I was like, yay, Team Deckard. He portrayed such a cool guy, much cooler than the supposedly main stars of the movies. I was a bit disappointed when he was pronounced death sometime before the movie ended. But then he came back with a bang. He was fighting the bad guys while protecting Dom’s son (literally carrying the car seat around while he was shooting at Cipher’s army). I literally cheered when he came back to the screen with his brother!

This movie was closed with everybody gathering around a dining table on a rooftop somewhere in New York. In his speech, Dom said something that made me frown. He said, “Thank you for not turning your back on me (family).” Err …, from what I saw throughout the movie, his friends lost their trust in Dom, turned their backs on him, and fought him with all their power. Aside from his wife, Letty, I didn’t see any loyalty implied between Dom and his team members, Hobbs, Roman, Tej, and Nobody. Not even slightly. They didn’t demand his explanations; which he didn’t seem to care to give either. I just didn’t get it; there were so many holes in the movie plots. It’s like the movie makers kind of underestimated the logic and intelligence of FF8 viewers.

The closing scene was a cliché with everyone living happily ever after. Dom was back in the gang. Letty instantly got a baby she was thinking about having. Cipher was nowhere to be found. Perhaps she would show up again in the next FF and this time would take Dom’s and Letty’s child as a hostage, ha-ha! It’s a perfect ending for everybody. At the very end, Dom introduced his son to everybody as Brian. I saw it as a kind remembrance of the late Paul Walker. That scene was nice. It made me forget a bit about wasting almost two hours watching (hopefully) the last installment of Fast and Furious.

PS: Don’t expect much information about car brands, engines, and racing techniques conveyed in FF8. Fancy cars here are just accessories, some kind of jaw-dropping eye-candies. They’re not the spirit of the movie like it used to be in FF1.

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