Furious 7 Review

Review #108

Furious 7 movie posterSynopsis
After the events in London, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge for his brother against Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). A government agent calling himself Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) makes an agreement with Toretto to help him if Toretto and his crew rescues the hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) from a group of terrorists led by Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).

Review
I have been anticipating Furious 7 for some time. Not because of Paul Walker, but because I’m a fan of the direction the series has been moving since Fast Five. While the franchise started out as a guilty pleasure, over the last several entries, it has become a series with a lot of heart mixed with the mindless action it started with. Furious 7 keeps the action going and is a great farewell to Paul Walker.

For the most part, each of the previous Fast movies have been located in one spot. Furious 7 on the other hand, breaks the mold and goes to several locations throughout the course of the film. Each one even more beautiful than the last. This change in scenery every few scenes makes the movie’s pace feel quicker. Not to mention it gives a variety of different driving set pieces. Scenes include, but are not limited to, winding mountains, city streets, desert, and even buildings.

Some of my favorite scenes from the series since Fast Five are the ones that display the relationship between Tej and Rom. Chris Bridges, better known as Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson have such great chemistry. They are always poking fun at each other that always bring a smile to my face. Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody is a fun addition to the cast. He is no Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) when it come to witty government agents but he still offers some good humor.

Over the course of the franchise, we have seen Brian O’Conner grow and evolve. He went from cop to fugitive to FBI agent to bank robber. This movie showed him dealing with the next step: building a family while at the same time missing the excitement of his old life. His growth to building a family in this movie was the direction the series was already heading anyway, so his exit feels organic and not something that was forced due to the passing of Walker. There is a tribute to Walker at the end that is beautiful and emotional.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to Furious 7‘s action. On one hand the chase scenes are thrilling and exciting. With actors like Jason Statham and Ronda Rousey, the fight sequences are top-notch. And there were some cool camera effects, like the camera spinning with the characters getting thrown around (there is an example in the trailer involving Statham). But on the other hand, there is a lot of shaky cam. It is not as bad as most action movies but is still bugs me.

Another problem I had with the film is how long it took to set up. The movie spent the first forty minutes or so bringing the different groups together before it really took off. The franchise’s flimsy timeline didn’t help either. A lot of the set up had to deal with the Shaw brothers, Han (which included used footage from Fast and Furious 6 and Tokyo Drift), and the fallout of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) losing her memory after Fast & Furious. It was necessary in order to finally bring all the pieces together but may make it more difficult for viewers who haven’t seen some or most of the previous films to follow.

Taking the series’ core theme of family into overdrive, especially in the wake of Walker’s death, Furious 7 is the most heartfelt of the series. Of course there are also exciting action scenes, a variety of beautiful locations, and good new additions to the cast to keep it in line with previous Fast films.

Rating
4/5

Favorite Quote
Dominic Toretto: I don’t have friends, I have family.

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftFast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
James Wan – Director
Chris Morgan – Writer
Brian Tyler – Composer

Vin Diesel – Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker – Brian O’Conner
Jason Statham – Deckard Shaw
Michelle Rodriguez – Letty
Tyrese Gibson – Roman Pierce
Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges – Tej
Nathalie Emmanuel – Ramsey
Jordana Brewster – Mia
Dwayne Johnson – Hobbs
Kurt Russell – Mr. Nobody
Djimon Hounsou – Jakande
Tony Jaa – Kiet
Ronda Rousey – Kara

Movie Quote of the Week – 4/3/15

Answer to MWL 4/1/15: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) – The Fast and the Furious

Dominic Toretto: What are you smilin’ about?
Brian O’Connor: Dude, I almost had you.
Dominic: You almost had me? You never had me. You never had your car. Granny shifting, not double-clutchin’ like you should. You’re lucky that hundred-shot of NOS didn’t blow the welds on the intake. Almost had me? Now me and the mad scientist gotta rip apart the block and replace the piston rings you fried. Ask any racer, any real racer. It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and congratulations to the following people for answering correctly:

Kim (Tranquil Dreams)
Andrew (Monster’s Movie Mayhem)

Fast & Furious 6 Review

Fast & Furious 6 movie posterSynopsis
After their successful heist in Rio, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Ludacris), have all gone into hiding. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is investigating the destruction of a Russian military convoy, brought down by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Hobbs approaches Toretto and asks for his help. Dom initially refuses but reconsiders when Hobbs shows him a recent photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) , currently a member of Shaw’s crew.

Review
The Fast & Furious series has been an interesting one. It started out alright in The Fast and the Furious, then took a dive with 2 Fast 2 Furious, but has slowly grown in quality since Tokyo Drift, culminating in the fantastic Fast Five. Fast & Furious 6 maintains most of the elements that made Fast Five so entertaining while taking the franchise in a slightly new direction.

Most Fast & Furious movies have done well setting up the rest of the movie with the opening scene. This film starts with a montage consisting of scenes from every previous movie in the franchise. This does great to give you an idea of the history of the series, but also becomes more fitting as the movie goes on because every previous Fast & Furious movie is referenced. For those who have watched them all, it’s very gratifying. Even if you haven’t seen the other films, the story is still easily followed, you just won’t have the same rewarding experience.

Gibson has been the comedic relief of the series since he first appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. He had a few funny moments in Fast Five but mostly when he was bantering with Ludacris. However, he steals the spotlight this time around. He had many one-liners that were hilarious, particularly during the first half of the movie. Johnson was more humorous, too.  Johnson can be funny as long as he has someone to play off of, which was missing in Fast Five.  Now that he had Gibson opposite, he is much better.

For a series whose original premise was car racing and chases, Fast & Furious 6 has really moved away from that focus. There are still car chases (it wouldn’t be an action/Fast & Furious movie without them), but definitely fewer and more spaced out. The action is balanced between several types of action scenes, instead of mainly cars. Car sequences are used as a tool, rather than the central focus.

The climactic scene is one epic set piece. Few scenes come to mind that are as intense as cars chasing a plane on a runway while several fights are happening inside the plane’s cargo bay. On a side note, I know that movies tend to exaggerate, but if that runway existed in real life, I’m pretty sure it would have stretched from one end of Europe to the other.

Hobbs was such a great adversary for the gang in Fast Five. He had both the resources and stature to be a valid threat to the entire team, particularly Brian and Dominic. But as an ally, he doesn’t have the same appeal. It was great because Johnson and Gibson could riff off each other, but other than that, the character wasn’t as interesting when he is working with Dom and his crew rather than against them.

Fast & Furious 6 steps even further away from the series thin plot roots and offers a more character-centric story. Gibson shines as the comedic relief and Johnson’s humor is better since he can go back-and-forth with Gibson. Hobbs was much better against the team than with them. The final, climactic scene was one of the largest in recent memory and is an explosive ending befitting any great action movie. Fast & Furious 6 shows that it isn’t afraid to move away from the series simple origins and offers an experience unlike any in the series.

Rating
3.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Furious 7.

Fast Five Review

Fast Five movie posterSynopsis
After Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) break Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of a prison transport bus, they rendezvous with Vince (Matt Schulze) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, they are hunted by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), one of the FBI’s toughest agents. At the same time, the most ruthless crime lord in Rio, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is looking for Dom and Brian. In order to gain their freedom, they call in some old friends to pull of one last job: a heist worth $100 million.

Review
I was skeptical to see Fast Five. The previous movie, Fast & Furious, started to show the potential of what the series could be. It gave a shot of adrenaline into the franchise, so what I was interested in seeing was if this film could carry the momentum started in Fast & Furious. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the franchise after 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, because Fast Five was more than I anticipated and kicked the franchise into a whole new level.

Dwayne Johnson is a strong addition to the cast. There is an underlying humor when he delivers his lines that makes it very enjoyable to watch him on screen.  However, he doesn’t have anyone to play off of like in some of his other movies, so some of playfulness fades quickly.  Hobbs as a character is a great adversary for the gang. He is physically strong and can match Dom punch for punch, and a federal agent, to make it personal against Brian. Add in Johnson’s wit and charm and you have one of the best antagonists in the series.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is how well the character relationships were displayed. The best moments were when Tej (Ludacris) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) were bantering. Tego (Tego Calderon) and Rico (Don Omar) had some great back-and-forth moments too.  What wasn’t explored that well were the relationships between characters that haven’t interacted before. Tej and Roman were together in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Tego and Rico were part of Dom’s crew in Fast & Furious.  Other than when the entire group was together, characters from the different movies rarely interacted one-on-one.  I think this was a missed opportunity and could have made for some of the more interesting moments in the movie.

I think what really made this movie for me was that at Fast Five maintains the essence of The Fast and the Furious, but it is primarily a heist movie. In the end when they finally do the heist, it is probably one of the greatest robbery chase scenes I have seen. Dom and Brian are towing a vault behind their cars. It made for a wild ride and some pretty serious destruction.

Most of the more memorable characters from the previous Fast & Furious movies return in Fast Five. One of the characters who returned didn’t have much screen time and seemed to disappear during most of the movie just as quickly as they appeared. Then, they became a casualty to give the team some more motivation. It felt like the death was unnecessary. I loath when characters are killed off simply to give gravitas to the situation. The character could have remained alive without greatly affecting the story.

Fast Five continues the energy that began in Fast & Furious. Johnson is a great addition to the cast and offers up humor to the character and a great foe for Dom and Brian. The character relationships were fleshed out, but only among those who appeared together previously. Fast Five is a great heist movie, but at its core, it still has all the elements that made the original The Fast and the Furious so entertaining.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

 

Fast & Furious Review

Fast & Furious movie posterSynopsis
Five years after leaving Los Angeles, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is hiding in Panama City after his new crew, which included Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Han (Sung Kang), Leo Tego (Tego Calderon), Rico Santos (Don Omar), and Cara Mirtha (Mirtha Michelle), disbanded. However, when his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) tells him Letty has been murdered, he returns to LA to find the killer. Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), now an FBI Agent, is tracking down a mysterious drug lord known as Braga. Toretto’s and O’Conner’s searches bring them together once again as they travel to Mexico to bring down Braga.

Review
I have stopped having high hopes for the Fast and Furious franchise. The first movie was good, but the second and third installments I found lackluster. They had the cool car sequences that mad the The Fast and the Furious so enjoyable, but they lacked anything worth caring about. However, Fast & Furious looks like the franchise is back from its slump.

For one thing, there is an actual resemblance of a plot this time around. Although it is still just used as an excuse to show off fast cars and furious driving (heh, I made a funny), there was less focus on the cars and more on the characters. There were a few parts where I had to think about what was going on, something I didn’t expect I needed to do with this movie, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Fast & Furious goes back to its roots and begins with an exciting highway heist. This explosive opening set the tone for the rest of the film, just like in The Fast and the Furious. I think the absence of a thrilling starting sequence in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift failed to set the tone they were looking for, so the expectations were set low early on. However, you know right away the mood for the rest of this film.

Brian O’Conner is the main focus of the movie. There is a lot more character work than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing. The film centers around the concept of is Brian a good guy disguised as a criminal or a criminal pretending to a good guy? It makes for an interesting dynamic in the film and is a much better character study for Brian than 2 Fast 2 Furious. Because there is more of a character focus, there aren’t as many car sequences as previous entries. There are still plenty, just not as much as frequent as before.

Fast & Furious brings the series out of its decline in quality. O’Conner’s character is at the center of the movie, which takes away from some of the action, but it’s a fair trade-off. An actual plot helps to set it above the previous films, and an exciting opening harkens back to the series’ past. The franchise is in good shape so long as it can continue the momentum started here.

Rating
3/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

Lighting Review: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift movie posterSynopsis
After getting in trouble for street racing, Sean (Lucas Black) moves to Japan to live with his father (Brian Goodman). However, his obsession gets him involved with Tokyo’s underground world of drift racing. After getting horribly defeated by DK (Brian Tee), the best drifter in Tokyo, Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and teaches Sean the art of drifting. He’s going to need all the help he can get when he falls for Neela (Nathalie Kelley), putting him in DK’s cross-hairs.

Review
After the dip in quality between The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious, I didn’t have high hopes for the series’ third outing. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift keeps with the quick action, great car sequences and shoddy acting. Honestly, I think my biggest problem with this movie is Lucas Black. He is monotonous and doesn’t show much emotion. The other actors, such as Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, and Brian Tee do much better, but when the lead actor is the weak link, your movie has a problem. The action sequences are still pretty good, especially a race throughout the streets of Tokyo between Han, Sean, and DK about two thirds through the film. It was refreshing to see a different setting, as well as a different style of racing. There is a cameo at the end that makes up for a lot of the missteps throughout the rest of the film. Tokyo Drift continues a series of fast action and thin plot, but has a different tone than previous entries, making it the most unique of the Fast and Furious films.

Rating
2.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.