Vin Diesel’s street racer turned special agent Dominic Toretto has declared he’s “not on call any more”, but with Charlize Theron’s cyberterrorist Cipher still at large, and in pursuit of a mysterious satellite device with the ability to “reboot the world order”, he might not have much of a choice. Worse still, his estranged little brother, Jakob (John Cena, “the useless one” to Dom’s golden boy), has teamed up with self-declared “spoiled rich prick” Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) and is after the device too. Grainy flashbacks to their father’s death in 1989 create context for their bitter rivalry.
Prior acquaintance with the eight previous instalments of this colossal action movie franchise isn’t necessary for enjoyment of this one – the film’s muscle cars and maximalist approach continue to serve it well. A set piece in the fictional Central American country of Montequinto, involving exploding landmines and an unlikely voyage across a rickety rope bridge, is a wild ride, but subsequent car chases in London, Edinburgh and Tokyo provide diminishing returns, stalling the almost two-and-a-half-hour running time. There’s a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the silliness of the series’ death- (and logic- and gravity-) defying stunts. “How are you still alive?!” gawps tech whiz Tej (Ludacris) as buddy Roman (Tyrese Gibson) emerges jelly-legged from a car wreck. It’s a question I’d also like to ask after their trip to space in a modified Pontiac Fiero.