If you had said 16 years ago that one day Fast & Furious would be presenting its eighth cinematic endeavour, and that Dame Helen Mirren was part of the cast – I would have laughed in your face. And yet here we are. Overstated, cheesy and downright absurd for the most part – it’s a series of movies that offers an unapologetic, pure sense of entertainment, and it’s this very formula that has allowed for the franchise to flourish.

So why would you change a thing? A notion the filmmakers are evidently aware of, for this latest instalment is in line with the tone and fabric of these endeavours. Sometimes it’s Hollywood’s duty to give people what they want – and eight films down would suggest this is exactly what they’re after.

The only real thing that changes from movie to movie is the narrative, albeit one that abides by a familiar structure. In this instance, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) finds himself seduced into a world of crime by the elusive Cipher (Charlize Theron), meaning he has to turn his back on the crew, and family, he holds so dear. His wife Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) is struggling to determine what has influenced this betrayal, but they haven’t the time to hold a grudge, as they must put a stop to Dominic’s endeavour, as he appears to be manufacturing a nuclear war. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are hot on his trail, even looking to former foes to assist their mission. But Dom is not an easy person to stop – and they know that better than anybody else.

fast-and-furious-8Directed by F. Gary Gray, and introducing the likes of Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell and of course, Helen Mirren (who plays a returning Jason Statham’s mum – naturally), there’s an obligation of sorts for every passing movie to outdo the preceding feature. Though this could backfire tremendously, it’s something the filmmakers have pulled off yet again, as this title is bigger, it’s bolder and its batshit crazier than anything we’ve seen from the franchise so far. This is particularly notable in the indelible, breathtaking action sequences, featuring stunts and special effects which are just insanely good – transcending the more irreverent aspects of the feature, and ensuring this is an adrenaline fuelled ride from start to finish.

The screenplay is, as always, verging on the terrible, with no wit to the plethora of contrived one-liners, so badly construed it’s as though they’ve been written by a seven year old. But the flaws are endearing, and part of the charm in many ways. Had this been any better it may actually have ended up a worse movie.

Though an archetypal actioner that follows, albeit affectionately, a stringent formula – there is something progressive about this franchise too, for it gives women power, with multi-faceted creations, playing both the protagonists and antagonists, while there’s a refreshingly diverse cast that doesn’t adhere to stereotypes. So while eight films may have seemed somewhat excessive, with this ineffable sense of enjoyment that derives from this movie, and the whispers of more to be added (even reaching double figures, apparently) – all we can say is good, bring it on.

Fast & Furious 8 is released on April 12th.