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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Paul Walker

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Can automobiles be family?

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has been living the good life since the events of the last film. He’s practically on vacation and thinking about starting up a family with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). But somehow, he turns to the dark side after an evil, somewhat vicious criminal mastermind named Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up and demands him to do all sorts of crimes for him. Obviously, it isn’t just Letty who feels betrayed, but also Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), and the rest of the gang. So, in order to stop Dominic from going any further into the dark, seedy world of crime and murder, they team back up with the government and try to stop him all at once. But this time, they’re going to get a little assistance from someone they haven’t been too fond of in the past: Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the man who hasn’t yet forgiven the family for what they had done to his own brother, but is willing to let bygones be bygones for the time being, just so that he can take down Cipher.

Uh oh. There must be a jabroni somewhere close by.

The last three Fast and Furious movies have been some of the best action movies in the past decade or so. They’ve upped the ante by becoming more and more ridiculous by the installment, while also never forgetting that what makes them so much in the first place is that they don’t ever try too hard to take themselves too seriously – the last movie definitely verged on getting way too dramatic for its own sake, but that was only because it was put in an awkward position of having to pay tribute to its star, Paul Walker. And from what it seems, the franchise will only continue to get more and more successful, the more and more insane it pushes itself to be.

Which is why the latest, Fate of the Furious, is a bit of a mixed-bag.

Don’t get me wrong, the action, the ridiculousness, and the sheer stupidity of it all is still here and in full-form, but at the same time, there’s something else keeping it away from being quite on-par with the past three installments and that all comes down to story. For one, no one goes to these movies for their well thought-out, interesting, and complex plots – they come for the action, the silliness, and most of all, the cars. People don’t care about who’s betraying who, for what reasons, and what sort of lessons can be learned from it all.

Of course, this being a Fast and Furious, it makes sense that we get a lot of lectures and discussions about family and what it means to stand by one another, but that’s to be expected and that’s not he problem. The real problem is that the movie takes way too long to get going, and when it does, it constantly starts and stops without ever knowing why. At nearly two-hours-and-16-minutes, Fate may be the longest installment so far (although, it could have been over two-and-a-half-hours, as previously reported), and at times, it feels like that; there’s so much downtime spent on plot and poorly-written sketches of characters, that it’s almost unnecessary. Having something resembling a plot is fine, because it’s what the past three have done, but Fate takes it up a notch in that it tries hard to give us a plot that’s harder to pin-down and far more detailed.

What a power-couple. Make it happen, real life.

But it didn’t have to be. We know it’s stupid and all filler, and so do they. So why are we getting all of this?

A good portion of that probably has to due to the fact that in lead-villain role, Charlize Theron gets to have a little bit of fun as Cipher, even if her character is so odd and random at times, it almost feels like anyone could have taken on the role. She’s your stereotypical villain in that she does bad stuff, for no exact reason, other than she’s a bad lady and can’t messed with. Once again, I’m not expecting anything more in a Fast and Furious movie, but the movie spends so much time on her, as she plays these silly mind games with Dominic and the gang, that it’s almost like director F. Gary Gray and writer Chris Morgan themselves don’t even know the material they’re playing with.

Same goes for the rest of the ensemble who are, as expected, just a bunch of punchlines and a few paragraphs of things resembling characters. But hey, it’s fine, because they all work well with the goofy material and make us realize that it doesn’t matter. Is it odd watching without Paul Walker? Most definitely, but the gang more than makes up for the absence, by doubling down on the charm and excitement, with even Statham himself proving to be having the biggest ball of everyone.

Oh and yeah, the action’s still pretty great, when it happens.

Everything before and in between, honestly, is a bit boring, because it’s all a build-up, but when it does actually get there, it’s still wild, insane, and highly unrealistic, but who cares? Almost all action movies, in some way, shape, or form, take place in some fake, mythological world where real-life issues and consequences don’t matter, and nor should they. These are the Fast and Furious movies, not Shakespeare.

I just wish somebody told everyone else that.

Consensus: A little long and slow, Fate of the Furious still gets by on its crazy, hectic action, as well as its talented ensemble who prove to be perfectly equipped with this goofy material, no matter how far-fetched it all gets.

6.5 / 10

News team, assemble!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Furious 7 (2015)

People can be violent, but cars are nearly worse.

The gang’s all back, but this time, it’s personal! Soon after their buddy is killed by a notorious thug by the name of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) – a brother of one of their former foes – Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) realize that it’s time to get vengeance in the only way they know best. But before doing so, they get a proposition from a special agent (Kurt Russell): Help him retrieve a piece of spy software from a terrorist (Djimon Hounsou) and he will more than make sure that Dom, Brian and the rest of the crew get that sweet taste of revenge that they’ve been clamoring for after all of this time has passed. However, there are other problems going on from within the group where Dom can’t seem to get Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to remember their past together for what it was, nor can Brian seem to tear himself away from the wacky, wild life of crime that’s always attracted him for so long, even if he’s know settled-down with a wife (Jordana Brewster) and kid. Will the crew stay fast? Furious? Or neither?

So yeah, already going into this installment, there’s plenty to be discussed. With the tragic passing of Paul Walker nearly a-year-and-a-half ago, everything that was initially planned for Furious 7, from the release date, to the plot, were all scrapped and made anew. Which makes total sense. Walker wasn’t some sort of bit player in this franchise that showed up every so often to utter some witty line that would get the whole crowd laughing at how likable he is; he was, literally, the heart and soul of this franchise. Without him, it probably wouldn’t have gone on for as long as it has, which is both a blessing and a curse.

And they're not beating the hell out of each other, because.......?

And they’re not beating the hell out of each other, because…….?

A curse because the movie’s are dumb, over-the-top, ridiculous, and represent everything that is wrong with American’s society of masculinity. On the flip-side, though, it’s also a blessing because these movies, at least in the case for the last three installments, are so much fun, seem to never lose sight of just how illogical they are, and hardly ever apologize for it. Fast & Furious movies aren’t supposed to be taken seriously, and that’s where the real charm lies.

Hence why Paul Walker, all of his acting talents aside, was perfectly-suited for this franchise, no matter what it threw at him, or where it threw him.

With that being said, Furious 7 is a pretty raucous time. While I may not be saying anything new that hasn’t already been uttered by millions and millions of people from around the world, there’s still something interesting to note about a franchise in which the movies seem to constantly get better and one-up the one that came before it. Fast Five started this trend of the franchise going towards more action-fare, rather than just making it all about hot cars, hot men, hot women, and hot bodies, and the sixth film absolutely went for it all and, for the most part, came out on top.

While Furious 7 may not be better than the sixth movie, it’s still pretty damn close because it never forgets what it is: A mindless piece of action-fare that audiences will pay dozens of dollars for. Though this sounds easy (because, quite frankly, Michael Bay’s been doing it for the past two decades now), looking at some films, it’s actually not. Last year’s utterly forgettable and boring Need for Speed tried so desperately to pull-off the same sort of magic that the Fast franchise has been pulling off for quite some time and it failed miserably. That movie wanted to be silly, insane and ludicrous beyond belief, whereas the Fast movies are exactly that, but they don’t ever seem to be trying.

Not to mention that they actually do feature a dude a named Ludacris.

But because Furious 7 knows what it’s all about, it doesn’t try to pretend it’s something it isn’t. Though there are a chock-full of scenes dedicated to these thinly-written, one-dimensional characters breaking down all sorts of barriers and getting dramatic with one another, these scenes are quickly dismissed as soon as they show up. Also, too, it makes sense that we need at least some sort of character-development to help make things seem fully rounded-out and not just *crash*, *bang*, *boom* all of the darn time. While this would have been fun, let’s be realistic here: No movie franchise with its seventh-installment is going to totally shelve its characters for their beyond-nuts action sequences.

Just get used to it and move on. That’s what I did and it worked well.

It worked well because, once I realized that every problem these characters had didn’t really matter much in the grander scheme of things, the action just got a whole lot better and more exciting. Though you’d think these movies would have already run-out of ideas on how to set-up action sequences and still, somehow, be able to utilize automobiles in some sort of fashion, director James Wan proves you damn wrong. With scenes depicting cars flying through the sky with parachutes and even scenes where cars go flying through three buildings, this franchise continues to give us something new and fun to feast our eyes and ears onto.

Not a Rock Bottom, but it'll do.

No Rock Bottom, but it’ll do.

And honestly, the sky is the limit from here on out. No matter how many times this movie tries to break actual science, it won’t lose any bit of respect because the rules have already been set-in place: There are no rules. Cars can literally fly through the sky; people can literally shoot their guns till the cows come home and never run out of ammunition; jets can literally glide around downtown LA without there being hardly any interference from the Army of any sort. Literally, anything can happen in these movies and because of that, they never lose an ounce of momentum; they just continue to build up and up on it some more until it feels like, you know, we may have had enough adrenaline for one day.

And really, the same rules apply to the characters, as well. Like I said before, none of these characters here are inherently interesting or well-written, but they exist in a universe that loves them all so very much, that it’s hard to look down upon them for being “types”. Like the movies they exist in, you just accept them for what they are, let them do their thing and move on.

It’s quite easy, really.

Meaning, when you accept them, you have to accept Vin Diesel’s garbled growling; Michelle Rodriguez’s resting bitch face; Dwayne Johnson to be wearing Under Amour every time he is on-screen and trying so hard not to break kayfabe; Jordana Brewster just being “there”; Ludacris and Tyrese to be the goofy sidekicks that everyone can rely on for comedy and not really anything serious to contribute to the plot; and, most of all, Paul Walker’s ability to just be the “everyman” in every scene he’s in. Because even though newcomers to this franchise like Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Kurt Russell, and especially, a deliciously evil Jason Statham all acquit themselves perfectly into this movie, strut their stuff and show us what they’re more than able to bring to the creative table, it’s Walker who still leaves the most lasting impression. He isn’t trying to, either – he just is.

And somehow, there’s a small bit of beauty in that.

Consensus: Like every other installment of the franchise, Furious 7 is as ridiculous and nonsensical as you can get, but still a whole bunch of fun, treating fans to everything that they could ever want with one of these movies, and then some, especially with the emotional tribute to Paul Walker – the one true face of this franchise.

8 / 10

Ride on, brotha.

Ride on, brotha.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Brick Mansions (2014)

Though parkour got determined “uncool” once everybody jumped ship to this whole YouTube thing.

In a dystopian Detroit (aka, present-day Detroit), numerous abandoned brick mansions have been left for all sorts of criminals to stay, linger and just do what it is that they do best: Commit illegal activity. But since they’re separated from the rest of middle-class society, it doesn’t really matter, which is a strategy the Mayor clearly takes pride in, even if its with rather demented intentions. Regardless, inside these brick mansions lies drug-lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA) who has been looked after by the FBI for quite some time, in particular, undercover agent Damien Collier (Paul Walker). Reason being? Well, let’s just say that Tremaine had a little bit of something to do with the death of Collier’s death; which is exactly why he doesn’t say “no” to a raid that would include Damien taking him down, once and for all. The only hitch is that he has to go in there to detach a bomb, but also, to get a better feel for the ragged, musty apartments he will soon be venturing into, he has to go with someone whose lived there for quite some time. Enter Lino Dupree (David Belle), a parkour champion that wants to get his woman, as well as his respect back, even if it may come at a price by teaming-up with a cop.

It may be no news to anyone out there, but I’m going to restate it again: Paul Walker did in fact pass-away last December, and he left behind this movie as his last, fully-filmed piece-of-work. Sure, he has some scenes in the upcoming Fast & Furious installment, but apparently they’re doing some weird stuff with his brother or something that I’m not too sure will work, but either way, that’s only a few scenes; this right here, Brick Mansions, is a full movie. So for that, it should definitely be seen.

That's not Rick Ross! So don't get your panties all up in a bunch about how RZA's "turning to the darkside".

That’s not Rick Ross! So don’t anyone get their panties all up in a bunch about how RZA’s “turning to the darkside”.

And of course, in most cases, some movie being some person’s final film wouldn’t mean diddly-squat in whether or not it should be seen, but in the case of this, it actually deserves to be seen more for what it does, rather than who is in it.

See, even though this is a movie that is downright, utterly idiotic in every way, it knows it is. So, rather than just trying to go for a heavier-meaning and be something that it’s not, the movie just sticks to the basics: Be fast, fun, exciting and don’t linger too much on the over-the-top plot. And for the most part, the movie does all of that so well that I never cared how preposterous this story got. For instance, there’s a nuke in this that gets directed towards Detroit for no other reason other to than just kill a whole bunch of people. It doesn’t make any sense, and even the villain himself, doesn’t really fully believe in it. But it’s a movie, so why the hell not!

That’s why you can’t go into a movie like this and expect something life-changing or thought-provoking, just go into it expecting to have a great time and not even worry about what else is going on with the world around you. All there is to a movie like this, is what’s in front of you and how well-done the display is. Sure, the camera does get a bit frigidity at times and the dialogue more than often sounds like somebody taped a person’s lips moving, only to then add their own voices in at a later-date (Especially whenever David Belle has to deliver lines), but still, it’s all meaningless stuff that’s easy to get by. So basically, just enjoy the damn show is what I am trying to say. As simple and easy as that.

However, like I was talking about before, the one aspect surrounding this movie that’s a bit hard to get past is the fact that yes, Paul Walker is gone from our world, and even worse, is gone because of a car-crash he was involved in. Which, yes, if you love to be “that guy”, is ironic, but also in the front of your mind when watching something like this, considering he has about one or two scenes where he, and the car he’s driving is in the process of being involve with a crash. Heck, he even screams in absolute fear at one point, if only to make us feel even worse for what we’re watching.

Pssht! I could do that if I wanted to.

Pssht! I could do that if I wanted to.

Though that’s only one or two scenes of this whole nearly-hour-and-a-half-movie, it should be noted that it does make you think about his death and how really sad it is, even if he wasn’t always the best actor out there. But talented actor or not, the guy was fine with what he did, which was just staring into space, delivering a tough-guy line every so often, and doing whatever silly, over-the-top action-stuff he was told to do, with precision that made it seem like he could do that type of stuff for the rest of his life and never get bothered with it. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see that actually happen, but it’s nice to see a movie like this that shows us what he did so well in the first place and why, even though he wasn’t necessarily an “acting legend”, was definitely the kind of guy you could get for this type of movie and actually count on to give you 110%, each and every time.

Yes, I know that some may be wondering if this is actually being written from me or some sort of Paul Walker-sympathizer, but nope, this truly is Dan O’Neill and I am truly sad about the passing of Paul Walker. He wasn’t amazing, but he was able to do whatever somebody threw at him. And in the world of film, that means a lot. A whole heck of a lot, actually.

Consensus: On the outside, Brick Mansions is incredibly dumb, and on the inside, it’s even more dumb, but it doesn’t matter because of how much fun it seems to be having with its B-grade plot, special-effects, action and idea of not wanting to last in your mind long enough, but just wants to give you a good enough time. Also, it wants you to remember Paul Walker, and the talent he was, even if he wasn’t all that flashy to begin with.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Oh, Paul. You were such a hunk. You will be missed.

Oh, Paul. You were such a hunk. Even while carrying a deadly-weapon. You will be missed.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

A Hijacking (2013)

The days of Jack Sparrow sure have changed.

MV Rozen, a Danish cargo ship, is going about it’s usual coast and features little to no problems whatsoever. Back at home, C.E.O Peter Ludvigsen (Søren Malling) is cutting deals with other companies in order to make so money, while also being able to tell them that the ship will be on deck shortly. That all changes once a bunch of Somalian pirates take over and demand over $10 million. Everybody back at the company freak out, so obviously they feel as if they have to get a professional on-board to help them negotiate a deal with these dangerous-beings, but nope, Ludvigsen will not have it. It’s his ship, it’s his crew, so therefore, it’s his responsibility. However, the man realizes the limits of responsibility once he becomes more and more connected to this ransom deal, as well as the cook aboard the ship (Pilou Asbaek).

This is one of those movies where it feels like it could have taken the easy way out, gone one way, came out another, and been as conventional as you could have gotten. However, writer/director Tobias Lindholm is better than that. A lot better than that and he knows how to build a story filled with suspense and all sorts of drama, without ever diving into the over-the-top theatrics that a similar film to this, Captain Phillips, looks like it might just take. However, I have yet to see that movie and have only seen this, so less talk about that movie, and more about this gem.

Something tells me his facial hair would be a lot longer. And a lot more grungier.

Something tells me his facial hair would be a lot longer. And a lot more grungier.

What I was alluding to up there, is that this flick could have easily been all about how this big corporate-head, and how he stops at nothing to get the ship back, at any means necessary. That means he could have been one of those dudes that didn’t care about the stakes, the human life, or the fact that the families out there are worried to death for their loved ones, and that the only thing on his mind the whole, entire time was making his co-workers/bosses happy and save his company some money. May not sound too bad and out-of-reason for some corporations out there, however, this flick is not like that and nor is this character.

Everything here is played to the utmost subtlety, especially when we see certain character’s real motives and ideas come out of their systems. Then again, nobody really has any sort of hidden agenda here. They are sort of just sticking true to themselves and hoping that whatever happens, is for the better and not for the worse. That said, the flick isn’t so subtle that we don’t even we feel anything at all. In fact, I’d say that this flick is surprisingly tense, but not in the ways you’d expect it to be and hell, might even take you off-guard.

Take for instance, the fact that we don’t even see the initial-raid of the ship. What we do see is the corporate-head getting a distress call from the ship, him rushing to the phone, and figuring out what’s going on. Cut to the next scene, and we see a bunch of Somali pirates holding guns, demanding stuff to happen in whatever language they’re speaking, and all of a sudden throwing you into something that’s among the lines of a thriller, but without the most thrilling part you’d expect to see in the whole movie. It robs you of that set-piece, but it doesn’t feel like manipulative or deliberate; it’s just sort of how this movie paints it’s story, without adding any secret-meaning underneath it all or anything. It’s just as straight-up with you, as you are with it. It’s sort of like a friend you meet, talk to, get to know, and develop trust with over time, as you can both see that your both being honest and real with each other.

Stupid alliteration, I know. But hey, it’s all I got right now. Please stick with me here people.

The movie does switch back-and-forth from the ship to the corporation building where they are trying to figure out what to do with this deal, how to let it settle in, and how to have it complete without any blood on anybody’s hands, and that does provide some frustration at times. Especially one part, probably the most tense of the whole one where we hear something, but we never see it. There are plenty of phone calls in this movie, but rather than pulling off a trick like split-screen or fast-edits to make it clear and possible to hear both ends of the conversation, all we have is the conversation on speaker-phone that can be as tense as ever. Well, except for that one moment where they don’t go back to the ship for awhile and we really need to see what the hell has happened aboard. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to be as vague as possible, but then again, maybe it’s just me who felt that way and nobody else.

Yup, that’s probably it. I’m a dick.

Why all that money, when you have yellow-colored walkie-talkies at your disposals?

Why all that money, when you have yellow-colored walkie-talkies at your disposals?

Although, I do have to say that I was glad to see that not only did this flick seem to treat it’s protagonists with enough respect and care to shake a tail feather, but also it’s antagonists as well. Believe it or not, the movie isn’t really making these pirates seem like terrible people. Granted, they are bad, they do bad things, and aren’t the nicest dudes you want to meet up with in a bar if it’s just you and 15 of them, however, they’re given some moments of slight humanity where you see them for people with feelings and emotions, and not just a bunch of grimy criminals that hold guns to people’s heads and demand a ransom. Even the leader of these pirates, who always lets everybody know that he is not actually a “pirate” per se, and more or less just a translator for these fools, gets a bit of bright and shiny spots where we see him for a reasonable guy; one that you couldn’t see killing anybody, even if he had to. Then that all changes once you see him get any bit of pissed-off and it’s all downhill from there, and you automatically crap your pants.

That was nice to see in a movie like this, just like it was nice to see a sympathetic hero that isn’t trying too hard to seem like “the man above the rest”, but more of just a guy that does what he needs to do, without trying to hurt anybody at all. I wanted more development with this character of Ludvigsen, but Malling’s general iciness and cold-stare, made it worth watching, even when the flick didn’t seem to have anything interesting to show or say. He reminds me a bit of a Bond villain, with the exception that this is a good guy, who does good things for the people who trust him. Hope to see more of him around in the States, just like everybody else in this cast, especially Asbaek who’s fairly solid in a role that could have gone nowhere and been as bland as Paul Walker. Just think of what could have been people.

Consensus: The questions it raises don’t really seem to come out clear, or at all for that matter, but A Hijacking is too subtle and too smart for that type of heavy-handed preachiness, and just tells it’s story the way it’s meant to be told without any added gimmicks or tricks thrown in.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Pirates? Like the one of the Caribbean?"

“Pirates? Like the ones of the Caribbean?”

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

It’s the year 2013, and yet, still no Hamster Wheels getting involved with these street-races!

Where the last thrill-ride ended, this next one begins with the one and only Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of the clan having to team up with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to stop a highly skilled criminal outfit (lead by Luke Evans), all in the hopes that they will earn themselves legal pardons. But to make matters even worse for the situation, it seems as if Dom’s old-love, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is alive and walking, even though she CLEARLY, FUCKIN’ DIED IN THE 4TH MOVIE!!!

Wow, I am really shocked by this. I was never a huge lover of the franchise, but as time went on; I started to grow fonder and fonder of what it could do, if it just allowed itself to have more fun, outside the world of street-racing. Of course, there’s still illegal street-racing going on and whatnot, but there’s more to this movie than just that. We got brawls; guns shooting; babes looking like hot tamales; shit being blown up; and now, we even got tanks to show up and do their thang. To say that this franchise has definitely improved would be an understatement, but to say that it’s idea of changing itself up a bit, evolving with the times, and giving itself more meat to chew on; is just about perfect.

Why? Because this movie is freakin’ awesome, and I never thought I’d be saying that about a movie starring Paul Walker. Never!

It’s a shame that Justin Lin won’t be coming back for the 7th installment, because the dude honestly seems like the perfect fit for these movies. Not only does Lin seem to enjoy being around all of these characters and watching them mess around with one another, but he also loves the whole idea of blowing shit up, and having fun with it. The dude revels in material like this, which may sound a bit off-putting in a way, but no need to worry because all of the fun that he’s having, is essentially brought out onto us and never leaves. Not even until that post-credits is off the screen (by the way, that’s what tops it off to be “freakin’ awesome”).

"You blinked first!"

“You blinked first!”

And that’s exactly what most action movies of this nature: unabashedly fun. Of course the movie is completely and utterly stupid with it’s over-the-top stunts that seem to not only cheat gravity, but lie about what the human-body can, and cannot do. But unles your some speed-junkie, who needs to jump off of things, and dare put yourself to near-death, just so that you can have; then you have to worry about seeing this. But if you’re just a normal, lax person that likes to have fun, and likes to see other people having fun while you join in on it; then this movie is the type of party you want to go to. Hell, even if you want to bring a couple of party-favors for you and your companion to join in on and have fun with, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you get caught and arrested, this site does not exist. Just a fore-warning.

But the question for me, myself, and I, is: how the hell did I become so fond of this franchise that I not only gave this the highest-rating of all, but how the hell do I find myself ranking the next one on top of my list to see next year? I honestly have no clue, but considering it’s the summer, it’s hot outside, and my brain has been turned off since last Friday when I filled in my last circle on my last final, then maybe that has something to do with. Speculation of my brain aside, this movie does not beg you to have a brain in order to watch it and enjoy yourself, all you need to know is what you’re getting yourself into and let the magic take it’s hold from there. I want to say check out the rest of the franchise before scoping this out, but coming from a person who didn’t much care for every other movie (except for the miraculous fifth one), I don’t know if it will do much help. Every addition seems to get better and better as the years go by, and it’s only a matter of time until we have Fast & Furious 30, gunning for the Oscars.

However, I highly doubt on that short-list for a nomination will be the acting of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. No offense against the dudes, because the script is idiotic, but these guys really lost all type of personality that made the first one such a dumb, but easy-to-watch gem. Diesel is always staring at people, grumbling his monologues that seemed to have been written by a 10-year-old who just got the “okay” from mommy and daddy to curse from now on, and always challenge people to either race or fight. It doesn’t matter what the hell the guy may be having a casual-convo with another person about, every time, it seems like they all end with him either ready to brawl, or ready to rev-up that beauty-of-an-engine of his. Then of course, we have Paul Walker here who’s as wooden as he can be (which is not saying a lot), but at least he’s not painful to watch. Since this is an ensemble piece where everybody gets their slice to chew up, Walker is thrown to the back a lot and giving a couple of chances to show how bad-ass he truly can be, even if it is just him driving around and looking stunning. I’m not gay, but has that guy aged at all? Seriously, his hair has just turned from dirty-blond to brown, and that’s about it. Oh, and some scruff too!

Anyway, returning as Hobbs is Dwayne Johnson who absolutely seems like he’s having the time of his life. The dude is tough, rugged, ready to find out what the hell’s going on here, and not taking no as an answer one bit. Johnson loves these types of roles where he pokes a bit of fun at his own image, but at the same time, still gets to show us the people’s eyebrow and how much ass he can truly kick. Joining his gang of criminal-busting, is Gina Carano who seems to have the same look and act going on here that she had in Haywire. Yes, she can still do all the flips and the ass-kicking that she’s been known to do, but when it comes to acting and actually giving us somebody that’s memorable in the least bit: she ultimately fails and gives the same look the whole movie. But hey, at least she’s using her own voice this time and not somebody else’s.

Rounding out the rest of the crew of “good guys” are the usual crew that we’re used to seeing and having fun with. Tyrese Gibson is apparently the poorest out of everybody who got their fare-share in the last heist, and can’t stop bringing up how he needs money for certain things; Ludacris always loves to bust his chops about it, as well as making fun of his big fore-head (apparently he did and just nobody noticed or cared enough to say anything in the first place); Jordana Brewster doesn’t do much other than stay-at-home and watch her O’Conner’s kid (who I feel bad for already, considering he will not past his driver’s test once); and Shea Whigham also shows up a bit, and does the role he was most known for in the 4th one (aka, getting his ass kicked), but it’s still nice to see him and hopefully he got a nice Jacuzzi cover out of the ordeal.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it's nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it’s nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

As for the “bad guys”, well, they too are okay, if a little dumb. The problem Luke Evan’s character, Shaw, isn’t that Evans gives a bad performance or anything, it’s that the character he’s playing is so loud, so obnoxious, and so blatant with the bad shit that he’s about to pull, that it makes almost no sense about how people continue to say that he gets away with stuff because he’s so secretive and so mysterious. I call bullshit on that for the reason that one of his tactics of showing his “evilness” was to take over a tank on a major highway and see if he could get away with it. Yeah, a tank. Good going, buddy! You’re definitely going to last long.

And as everybody knows (and if you couldn’t, just look up-top at the plot-synopsis), Michelle Rodriguez returns to show us her feminist-ways as Litty, the ex-lover of Dom Toretto who is a welcome-back to the franchise. I’ll admit it, when Litty (actually) died in the 4th movie, I didn’t care too much and felt like it was one way to just create more drama that wasn’t needed to begin with, and heck, even once she showed-up in that post-credits scene in the last movie, I didn’t care much neither (except I was pissed as shit). However, seeing Rodriguez back in her comfort-zone, watching as she acts all confused and questionable, while also being able to throw-down with the best of them, made me happy that the gal was back and ready for more fast cars. The explanation they give us for her surviving the death that we all presumed she had is dumb as hell, but I was willing to drop down some of my nitpicks about logic and simple-reasoning with a movie like this. Obviously.

Consensus: For those who find these movies as stupid and idiotic as ever, may be a bit pleased with what they see in Fast & Furious 6 because it keeps the energy and momentum going at a fine pace, without ever really diving into melodramatic-theatrics or plot-points that don’t matter. It’s just a fun ride from beginning-to-end, and rarely ever loses you, no matter how smart or dumb you are.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's NOT Henry Cavil.

Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s NOT Henry Cavil.

Fast Five (2011)

Everything you would expect from a car-racing movie: except for the cars.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are back together again but this time, are hiding out in Rio de Janerio after breaking out of prison. However, they still want to pull off that one, last heist before they head-out into the sunset forever. Problem is, they got one man standing in their way: a tough, and rough federal agent, played by Dwayne “Don’t Call Me Rock” Johnson. It’s everybody’s favorite group of illegal street-racers, versus the police in a knock-out brawl to the end to see who can get the money, who can pull off the job, and who can drive the fastest car.

When you go out to see a Fast and Furious movie, you know you have to expect loudness, cars going “vroooom!”, people skewing out terrible lines, and plenty of moments where men just stare each other down in a deeply sexual, but tense way. It’s what we come to know with this series and so far, it’s been okay considering every one of these movies seem to continue to kick ass at the box-office. Somehow though, they decided that maybe, just maybe, cars aren’t really what’s the most interesting thing for when you do an action movie. Thank the lord for that realization.

Director Justin Lin doesn’t do something that’s by any means ground-breaking, original, or life-changing with his direction, but what he does do is actually inject some energy and fun to a series that quite frankly, needed it in order to it to continue breaking records. In order to broaden up the audience of this flick, they steered (teehee) away more from the whole car-culture aspect of these movies, and made it more of an action/adventure type of movie full of guns, shooting, babes, and heists. In all honesty, it was a great decision because it really keeps the adrenaline going and allows there to be more exciting action scenes, rather than just having two guys go head-to-head in CGI cars.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it's going down.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it’s going down.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any driving in this film, because there is, but there’s not a whole lot to the point of where you feel like the next time you hear a car turn on, you’re going to blow it up yourself. Lin adds just the right amount of car racing fun into this movie, while still allowing all of the craziness of the other action to follow in and quite frankly, kept my eyes on the screen the whole time. Do the scenes defy logic? Totally. Do they look as if they could never, ever happen in a real world we have a little thing called “gravity”? Of course. However, does that make it a whole lot more fun and entertaining to watch? Hell to the yeah! Lin seems like he knows what he’s doing with action scenes and it makes me feel a bit safer knowing he’s taking over the franchise now and not giving it to Ghetto-lover John Singleton. Honestly, why the hell did the guy do that movie?

Despite all of this insane amount of fun action that goes beyond just cars and racing, there’s still a part of this movie that drags and drags on pretty long, too. The opening scene starts things off perfectly and gets you pumped right up, and the ending does the same thing, but there’s a middle-act here that just doesn’t do much with itself other than feature a bunch of people talking about what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do with it their heist. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t action every little bit here and there, but for the most part, it seems like they may have ran out of money or just edited out one big action sequence, and saved up all of their time for the last 20 minutes. Not to say that’s a terrible thing, but it did have me yawn every once and awhile, something I would not be expecting from a big movie that is in fact named after fast-ass cars.

But since this movie is from the same franchise that gave us Cole Hauser as an evil kingpin, you have to expect this film to not really be the intensely smart and witty script we’d want with something of the same nature like a Tarantino or Kevin Smith movie. However, you don’t also want it to be this bad. There’s cheap one-liners here that are unintentionally hilarious, characters who come out to say something stupid and meaningless to the plot or certain situation they are in, and melodrama that’s supposed to really enhance the tension and emotional-factor for this story, but just feels like a cheat to tack-on more time the audience has to spend with these characters. It just goes to show you that sometimes parents don’t need to get on their young kids’ cases about not having jobs, because they can always apply for a screen-writing job for these Fast and Furious movies. Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

But where the fun and charm really lies within this flick is the fact it has the whole gang back (with the exception of Michelle Rodriguez, who is supposed to be dead!!!!), and they are all fun to watch. Vin Diesel does his usual stoic, scary-looking big guy act as Dom Toretto and can practically play the role in his sleep. Actually, sometimes it seems like he is doing just that but it doesn’t matter because the guy can still nail the same notes with this role, as he can with any other piece of shit script that gets tossed right at him. Paul Walker is also here making all of that cash money flow from his pockets by appearing in another one of these movies, when in all honesty: he does barely anything for them. The guy that stands in the background and always has to look serious just for the sake that his character is so damn stern and compelled by what is happening. If there is anything I have to give the guy, it’s the fact that he is quite the natural at it, almost as much as I am a natural at winning pong while I’m drunk. It happens, I forget about it the next day, and live my life. That’s about it in a nutshell.

"Hey, we said no head-starts!"

“Hey, we said no head-starts!”

Also, the side characters that you may, or may not, remember from those other flicks are here to just do their thang and have fun. It’s fine to watch them as they all fight with one another, give their own two cents on what the next best plan would be, and whether or not they should drive fast cars. It’s all stupid and unneeded, but hey; at least it’s fun to see old friendships reconvene, and new ones be formed right in front of your own very eyes. It’s sort of like my Sweet 16, without all of the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs in the background. No, I was not the DJ, for the record.

Even though everybody’s pretty good with what they’re given, the one who really stands out the most is probably Dwayne Johnson as the angry, federal agent that just wants to take these racing-mofos down. As soon as Johnson pops up into the movie, you can tell the guy is ready to do some business and he gives that type of serious, tough-guy role that made him so popular in the first place with wrestling fans all-over-the-world. He’s dead-on serious with all of his lines, but it isn’t distracting in the least bit and somehow works to his, as well as the rest of the movie’s advantage by giving us a real dude that seems like he could actually take down each and every one of these illegal-racing bandits. Another side you could take on his performance, is that it’s pretty surprising how it shows us that maybe this guy isn’t going to be one of those crooked cops we always see in movies like this, and actually just does his job because it’s what he feels is right. Maybe I’m looking a bit too deep into this obvious character, but I know one thing that’s for sure: Johnson kicks some ass with this role and I look forward to seeing him take this role on longer and longer as this franchise goes into it’s 100th movie in the year 2099. Yes, it most likely will go on that long, as you can see by what’s coming out this Friday and what’s already being discussed. Everybody will be quite fast, and furious, even until the day they day. Even when cars are practically extinct for cool gizmos like this.

Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

Consensus: Stupid, loud, and terribly-written, Fast Five is exactly what you would expect from a movie in this franchise, but it’s still fun, entertaining, filled with life, energy, and a bunch of charming performances that makes this the best offering of this whole franchise.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be "ok'd" by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be “ok’d” by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Pleasantville (1998)

Black, white, orange, yellow, red, green, etc., their all the same thing.

Geeky teenager David (Tobey Maguire) and his popular twin sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), get sucked into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV sitcom called “Pleasantville,” and find a world where everything is peachy keen all the time. But when Jennifer’s modern attitude disrupts Pleasantville’s peaceful but boring routine, she literally brings color into its life.

It’s hard to believe this but with The Hunger Games and Seabiscuit, I have now seen all of Gary Ross‘ films. Now I know that’s not saying much but with the three films he’s made, he’s very impressive and I hope he goes on and on to do more.

When I first was about to watch this film, I was expecting a nice satire on 1950s culture from the fashion to the TV and that’s what I got with plenty of laughs. The screenplay is very funny and there are plenty moments where I think Ross hit the nail right on the head with how he shows just all of the “too good to be true” moments and cliches that we usually see in old school television shows from the 50’s. I mean you got the temperature that always stays the same, the fact that these kids think they are so bad and dirty when they just hold each other’s hand, how every single kid on the b-ball team absolutely rocks and makes every single one of their shots, and just about everything else that made me laugh at just how much Ross makes jokes about. We all know that episodes of “I Love Lucy” are cheesy as hell now but back then, they seemed so cool and hip and it’s always fun to poke jokes at that especially since Ross isn’t doing it in a mean way either.

However, as much of a satire as it is, there is still more to this film than meets the eye. The whole film is one big insightful speech about how we should all stick up for ourselves and that things shouldn’t be as narrow-minded as they once were back in those days. If people didn’t like something back then, they just stuck by it because there was nothing else to do but honestly, who is that helping? You have to stick up for yourself and sometimes it’s not so wrong to change things up a bit rather than just doing the same old crap day after day. Ross brings a lot of this up and it’s also great to see how he is able to show contrasts between the 50’s and 90’s just through this one general theme.

What really struck me right away though was the way it looked. Ross uses black-and-white for the majority of the film but as the town starts to change, so do the colors. At first, we get little glimpses of red, or yellow, or pea green, but then the colors really start to pop-out at us and it mixes in well with the original black-and-white look it had in the first place. It’s pretty impressive how Ross was able to mesh these two art styles together but it’s also even more impressive how he made things such as a tree on fire, or a leaf falling, or even rain pouring down from the sky seem so much more beautiful than they actually. Well, that is Hollywood’s job to do (make simple things in everyday life seem so much more beautiful) but its add so much more to the film’s look and the story itself considering everything here is caused from the colors changing. It’s a very beautiful film and one that will probably make me look at everyday occurrences a lot differently now.

My problems with this flick though was that by the end, everything get’s a little too obvious. We know that this flick is making a statement about the 50’s lifestyle and how people just repressed their negative emotions towards their everyday life but Ross is aiming other places too. Ross draws a lot of comparisons to racism at that time as well and shows how the town doesn’t want anything to do with people who have color at all, and they even go so far as to call them all “coloreds”. It’s pretty obvious that Ross is trying to draw some ideas from this as well but it’s too in-your-face and can get very annoying at times. May seem like a dumb complaint but by the end, you’ll start to notice some preaching.

Tobey Maguire isn’t really playing anything new from his usual “lovable but geeky dude” role he plays but his performance as David is good because he’s able to seem like a real teenager that finally gets a chance to change a world that he though he never could be apart of in the first place; Joan Allen is also great as his TV mommy, that finds out about sex and then her whole life is changed which provides some of the better scenes of this film; Jeff Daniels is goofy but charming as the strange dude who works at the restaurant, Mr. Johnson, but when isn’t he playing anybody strange?; William H. Macy is good as David’s TV daddy and provides plenty of funny scenes when he tries his hardest to cope with the fact that his wife just won’t be around all that much after this sexual awakening in her; J.T. Walsh is good as the mayor, Bob Bob, playing his usual villainous character that we always see him in; and Reese Witherspoon isn’t in this as much as I would have liked even though she started this whole change in colors fiasco in the first place, but she’s still pretty good with what she does. It seems like with all of his films, Ross is able to assemble a great ensemble cast and give them all shots to strut their stuff, even if that person does include Paul Walker who probably gave his best performance ever here. You better be thankful for Gary, Paul.

Consensus: Some of it starts to get preachy by the end, but Gary Ross keeps Pleasantville just exactly that, pleasant, with great performances from the ensemble, funny satire, and themes about how we should all stick up for each other and change things up every once and awhile because going on in life so narr0w-minded, isn’t doing yourself or anyone else any good. Or at least that’s what I got from it.

8/10=Matinee!!

Take Shelter (2011)

Why can’t people just accept that he has a dream!?! Well, a very effed up dream to say the least but still.

Curtis (Michael Shannon) believes strongly that a huge storm is approaching and will destroy everything on a massive level. Rain from the sky begins to look like motor oil, multiple tornadoes are forming, and huge flocks of birds begin to navigate in weird patterns. He also has a history of mental illness in his family and his visions may be from his paranoid schizophrenia.

The “crazy guy who sees things” premise has been done time and time before but there’s something different that writer/director Jeff Nichols brings to it. Maybe it’s just the fact that this guy is actually very good at everything he does. No, that’s exactly what it is.

The one thing that Nichols shows that he definitely is a force to be reckoned with in the next upcoming years. He does a great job with the direction here because the story has this sort of horror flick feel to it but even when all the freaky and scary stuff isn’t happening, he lets everything calm down in order to give us some very rich family drama. Nichols gives a lot of these dream sequences this dazzling look and feel that has you so taken aback by them that even though you do know that they are just hallucinations and not real, for some odd reason you start believing that they are despite what this story is telling you. The CG effects are pretty good, some better than others, but I’m just really impressed that they were able to make any type of huge storm look realistic, given the meager budget they have working with here.

The film’s script is also very well-done because it captures two things at once. You know that this guy is just having dreams and imagining stuff but after awhile, the sense of impending doom starts to take over and you can’t help but start to think that this guy is right after all and you’re just waiting along with him for it go down. You feel hooked right away and it doesn’t stop for the whole two hours that this film has you for, but it’s not just that which got me going. The whole family drama aspect of this film works greatly as well because its very subtle, quiet, and genuine. Everybody hear speaks like a normal person would and their reactions to this guy’s dreams and actions feels very real in the way that people wouldn’t just beat around the bush, they would get straight-up in the dude’s face and call him a loony. The characters all feel real here and even though I can’t say that I know anybody that would actually be as nutso to build a storm shelter himself for the apocalypse, I could say that if I did meet one, I would be pretty up-front about how crazy I think they are.

My only complaint with this film lies within the whole metaphor this film is trying to throw on by our faces. The whole idea that there is a storm approaching not just in real life but also in his head seemed a little obvious for me in the way that I just knew what this film was trying to say. It’s not that this ruins the film by any means necessary it’s just that once you get the hang of what this film is trying to say, it’s pretty much over-done.

The main reason as to why this flick does work though is because of the man they call Michael Shannon. Shannon is finally getting his first lead role as Curtis and he makes every single second work and count like no other. This guy looks nuts and has elements about him that would make him rather nuts but he’s just an ordinary working-class family man that is starting to dream some pretty scary things and it starts to take over his mind big-time. He never goes around yelling at people, preaching about how the apocalypse is coming, instead he just keeps it all to himself without ever letting anybody, even his wife, know what’s going really going on in his crazed mind. Shannon is perfect for this role because even as crazy as he may be going he never seems violent and never seems like the type of dude that would kill his family because a big old cloud in the sky told him to. He feels like a dude that loves his family but also has a lot going on in his mind that he shows very subtly only getting worse through time. Shannon doesn’t let loose until one part where he just can’t take it anymore and just lets you know how much power he has for a performance like this and even when it’s over, you can’t help thinking that this is truly a weird dude. Shannon deserved a nomination for this performance because he’s great and handles every scene perfectly but something also tells me that we will be seeing more of him in leading roles now.

Also, I think that Jessica Chastain will be proclaiming that 2011 was the greatest year of her life considering she has appeared in about 7 films last year, including this one, and she’s great in just about each and every single one of them. Chastain plays his wife, Samantha, and gives you this feeling that she really does love her husband and is trying her damn hardest to really connect with him and help him through this very rough time in both of their lives. It’s also great to see Shea Whigham working again considering the last time I saw him was when he got rocked by Paul Walker in ‘Fast & Furious’.

Consensus: Take Shelter is a powerhouse of a flick with arresting visuals, a perfect performance from Michael Shannon, and a direction and script from Mike Nichols that makes you feel the impending doom that could possibly happen, as well as feel the true emotions that run behind all of these characters motives.

9/10=Full Price!!

Fast & Furious (2009)

Sometimes, car explosions never do get old.

Fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) must team with his old nemesis Agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and take on a common enemy in the latest full-throttle installment of the speed-racing franchise. Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster reprise their roles as Letty and Mia, respectively.

This is the fourth film of the ever-so popular series about illegal street-racing, and it’s considered an inter-qual. Which means it takes place in between the second and the third, so if you’re following along with this story line, you won’t give much of a shit either.

Director Justin Lin brings a flair with editing to this film that really does work. The car chases look very cool and some of them may actually be very new, because a lot of the things they do here with the cars, is astonishing. Lin keeps the camera moving rapidly all-over-the-place, to give you the havoc feeling that these car chases would give, but you can also tell what’s going on, which is totally different from other car chases in films. Also, that GPS they have in here sounds like Stephen Hawkins hot sister, and had me laughing just about every time.

However, as usual with these films, the writing ranges from decent to bad. I’ll give this film some credit because it actually does try to be more character-driven than the past films, but the problem here is that it doesn’t work because all of the lines said here are either cheesy, or predictable. This is a more talky film than any other of the series, and I wouldn’t have minded if these characters didn’t sound like they were reading cue cards from 1980 action films. Although, when I look at it this film is called Fast & Furious, not Smart & Thought-Provoking.

The cheesy tag-line for this film is “New Model. Original Parts”, and those original parts have been sitting on the shelf doing nothing for the past few years. Vin Diesel brings back that sleepy-eye gaze, those huge biceps his V-neck can’t even contain, and that extremely likable bad-boy image to the character of Dom Toretto, and commands this story. It’s good to see Diesel doing what he does best, and it seems like this act never gets old for him. Paul Walker is his usual character as Brian O’Conner, and nothing is really wrong with that. Jordana Brewster who is bangin’ I must add, doesn’t really have much to do here as Mia. She’s in there just looking worried, angry, or some combination of the two. Michelle Rodriguez is in this film, for as about as long as I’m in the film, and it’s a little bit awkward since I think from the 22 DUI’s she’s gotten, she’s not actually allowed to drive, so she’s forced to just ride on trucks. John Ortiz does his best as the main bad-guy here, but the cheesy evil one-liners take over his character, to the point of where he becomes a laughing stock.

Consensus: The plot may be ludicrous, and the writing is the usual cheesy and predictable fare we have come to known of these films, but director Justin Lin brings back the old gang with awesome action sequences, and a different style of telling this story.

6/10=Rental!!

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Same as the first basically, but with a bald black dude instead of a bald white guy.

It’s a major double-cross when former police officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) teams up with his ex-con buddy Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) to transport a shipment of “dirty” money for shady Miami-based import-export dealer Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). But the guys are actually working with undercover agent Monica Clemente (Eva Mendes) to bring Verone down.

So after reviewing The Fast and the Furious, I thought to myself: “Why the hell not!”. Then, I realized that I have to stop watching these films before I become a crazy fanatic about street-racing.

I still don’t know how John Singleton, the director of Boyz N The Hood, got a hold of this, but I have to say that he does a good job here with this direction because it does what the first one did, and that’s make the action sequences very fun to watch. There’s a lot of slickness to these scenes as usual, and it will keep you excited when their going on.

However, the main problem with this film that the first one had, but not as bad, it’s that the script with this one is even worse. Granted there’s more danger with this premise, but the script tries way too hard to be cool and hip, which just ends up being dumb and corny. When these characters were talking, I couldn’t help but laugh at everything everybody was saying, because they all seemed like one-liners you would hear in a video-game, or a really bad B-Movie. Still, you don’t watch a movie like this one for its contribution to the advancement of the cinematic art, you watch it for the shiny cars, the fast cars and the crashing car, all three of which you get in spades.

Paul Walker is alright again as Brian O’Conner, and even though he isn’t doing anything different here, he didn’t do from the first, he still owns the determined leading action man. Tyrese Gibson is the next big bald guy in this film as Roman Pierce, who has the cheesiest lines to say, and I guess they wanted him to seem gangster so they gave him lines that had the word “man”, ending every sentence. Gibson is alright in some films, but here, he was just annoying. Cole Hauser is our main villain, who’s that usual cheesy bad guy, but he still does a good job at it. Eva Mendes is very hot and sexy, that always steals the show with her looks, and does an OK job here too. There’s also some nice spots from Ludacris, James Remar, and the always gorgeous, Devon Aoki.

Consensus: 2 Fast 2 Furious may be entertaining and have the same slick look the first one had, but the script brings this film and it’s cast way farther down.

5/10=Rental!!

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The one that started all the car-craze nonsense.

Aptly named Vin Diesel stars in this high-octane action-adventure as Domenic Toretto, a Los Angeles street racer suspected of masterminding a series of big-rig hijackings. When undercover cop Brian Spindler (Paul Walker) infiltrates Toretto’s iconoclastic crew, he falls for Toretto’s sister (Jordana Brewster) and must choose a side: the gang or the LAPD.

So looking at this film as a whole, The Fast and the Furious is about street-racing, and let me tell you there is a lot of that.

The one thing about this film is that it’s mindless entertainment, and doesn’t try to be anything else. The stunt-work is awesome, with a lot of crazy scenes here that almost reminded me of 90’s action thriller classics like Point Break or Speed, so even when the story is pretty bad, they can still rely on these awesome action scenes that will really have you entertained. This is what a B-Picture is all about: fast cars, big action, loud music, and every single awesome action sequence kicking more ass than the last one.

Now the main problem with this film is when all the racing, cars, and sexy girls are gone, the film starts to become unintentionally laughable. This film has a lot of, and I do repeat, a lot of cliches here. I mean there are certain lines here that I have heard before, and what’s even worse is the characters themselves. Each and every one of these characters are cliches themselves. You got the undercover cop who ends up loving what he was assigned to do in the first place, the bad-ass leader, and of course the sexy chick that comes in between it all. I have seen this all before, and nothing here is any different except for the fact that the action is pretty awesome.

Even though these characters are all pretty paper-thin, somehow the cast tries their best. Vin Diesel is good as Domenic Toretto who uses his scary look to his advantage. Even though Vin gets a lot of shit talked on about his acting, I still think he’s good because he is actually able to make his character seem even more scary by the emotions on his face. Paul Walker is a lame actor, but he’s OK here as Brian Spindler, the cop who’s torn between love and doing the right thing. So so so cheesy. Jordana Brewster is hot, but also good as Mia, but some of the lines she has are just so bad that I couldn’t help but laugh. And of course, what would an action film be without Michelle Rodriguez here being the bad bitch that she is in every film. Poor girl, she can never be a doctor in a film now.

Consensus: Loud, aggressive, dumb, stupid, and ultimately entertaining, The Fast and the Furious may have huge problems with its script, but it will keep you excited the whole time with it’s B-Level thrills to give you the ultimate guilty pleasure feel.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Takers (2010)

Your average heist film, with cooler people.

With their collective eye on a huge payoff, a motley crew of bank robbers (including Paul Walker, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen) get busy planning out their next heist. Their former colleague, Ghost (T.I.), convinces the boys to target an armored car carrying $20 million. But a detective (Matt Dillon) who’s obsessed with his work is just as obsessed with making sure the thieves never pull off their scheme.

This is has been a film that for some reason I have wanted to see for so long, even despite it being terribly reviewed, and basically looking terrible from the start. But I’m actually surprised that I didn’t hate it like everyone else did.

I think the one reason many people had a problem with this movie, was because it wasn’t that original when it came to its plot. There are plenty of shades of other crime films in here such as Dog Day Afternoon, Heat, Point Break, and the list goes on and on, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. For me, I enjoyed this film mostly for it’s action scenes, and how they kept me watching. The action scenes are all filmed in a shaky-cam with very frenetic editing, that works well for this film because it keeps you in this very fast-paced setting. The stunts they use in this film are cool to look at, as well as the heist scenes cause you can tell they put a lot of effort into it.

A problem with this film is that it’s writing is not so good, as well as it’s story. There are obvious, and pretty cliche lines here that you will just sigh after hearing them here, cause you know you have heard them time and time again from other, and better films. There are also some laughable subplots here that involve a crooked cop, a couple that’s about to get married, and a really random one about a drug-addicted sister, do nothing but take away from the action, and focus more on the story which really wasn’t working out. Even though I could tell at times where this film was going, I still was on the edge of my seat, because by the end of the film it does become somewhat unpredictable.

Another problem with this film was that the characters are all pretty two-dimensional. Yeah, we kind of get to know them through their charms, and cool way of saying certain lines, but we never get to know each and every one to the point of where we’re cheering them on till the end. I liked the cast and how they got all these big-budget names and mixed them with some rappers, but they aren’t really put to good use except for a little bit of show.

For the most part, the cast does alright even though I do think some of them could have done better, if given a better script. Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez who play the cops, are the two best here and play off each other very well. Idris Elba is also the one worth noting, since he takes a lot of his scenes and does a very good job with them, as I always expect from him. However, the rest of the cast doesn’t really do much, mainly because the script permits them from really doing anything. Chris Brown, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, and last, but certainly not least, T.I. Now let’s just savor for a moment that not only does this film have T.I. in this film, but he is the main reason why this story happens, and therefore he is in it a lot and a lot. I would not have a problem that he was in this a whole lot if he was actually good at what he did, but the fact is that he is so annoying here. I don’t know if it was his delivery, or the writing, or just his character, but I really wanted to kill T.I. in this film. Also, the beautiful Zoe Saldana is in this for a total of 10 minutes, while T.I. has half of the movie to himself. Congrats on a waste of talent!

Consensus: Many films are copied from in here, and the characters as well as script are cliche and lame, but the constant energy this film gives off, and some entertaining set pieces had me actually having a relatively good time with Takers. But as always, it could be better.

6/10=Rental!!