Can the Fast and Furious franchise keep its head above water without Paul Walker?

The Fate of the Furious is the eighth instalment in the high octane Fast and Furious franchise. A series with its humble origins way back in 2001, tales of flashy cars, street racing and girls have evolved to include modern day tech and spec-ops to rival those of even a Michael Bay film.

F8 opens with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on their honeymoon in Cuba, and things quickly spiral out of control when Dom meets Charlize Theron’s Cipher – the world’s most powerful hacker. She’s got a motive that will force Dom to join her team and leave behind the one thing that matters most to him – his family.

Understandably, the others – Letty, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Chris Bridges) – don’t take too well to Dom’s betrayal, and when he steals an EMP the team worked together to retreive, set about hunting him down.

Newcomers to the series are buddy cops Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood; the main players in an agency working to help Letty and her team reunite with Dom, find out what went wrong, and quell Cipher’s plan for worldwide fear mongering.

Long-time fans of the franchise raised their eyebrows at this film’s trailers – Dom would never betray his family, surely? – but in true F&F fashion there’s one hell of a reason behind it – and it’s gonna take plenty of beautiful cars and absolutely ridiculous stunts to get to the bottom of it. Yeah, we’re talking more insane than the runway scene in Fast 6. Expect a few appearances from extended family members past and present, too.

For the first film without Paul Walker as beloved buster Brian O’Conner, F8 does a wonderful job of retaining the feel of family, and doesn’t completely write him out of the plot, which is a nice touch. Throw in a henchman role for Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju, an amusing yet small role for the one and only Helen Mirren, and some impossibly unbelievable action, and this winds up a full-fledged Fast & Furious film, and one that rates among the best of the lot.

In cinemas: April 12, 2017
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron
Directed by: F. Gary Gray