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26May/130

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

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We're a full service Fast and Furious review crew here at Can't Stop the Movies.  Ryan and his friend Ben watched the first four films (Part I and Part II) in preparation for Ryan watching and reviewing Fast Five.Anyone who remembers when this series was about illegal street racingAndrew LIKE BannerThe Fast and Furious franchise has undergone some curious naming changes over the years.  First it was The Fast and the Furious, then 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift, and so on.  It's easy to make jokes at the expense of a franchise as meaty as this one that they just kept forgetting what their films were called but that would overlook that this franchise has managed to keep itself fresh for over twelve years now.  The name change just reflects that, with each film, the creative team has tried to do something a little different.

For a lot of this we have to thank director Justin Lin.  Who else would have thought to go from mixing Lost In Translation and Mario Kart for the third film to a grittier revenge film for the fourth?  Now in the sixth film Lin lets the characters we've spent years watching play off each other in a surprising bit of sentiment.  Sure, this is the kind of sentiment that comes with repeated scene of humans turned into projectiles, giant Erector set ramp cars with jet engines attached, and Dwayne Johnson once again lighting up the screen with that wonderful smile of his.  It's sentiment, Fast & Furious styled, with Lin closing out his neck of the franchise on the highest note possible.

Fast & Furious 6 picks up shortly after the Rio heist that concluded Fast Five with everyone in reasonably comfortable retirement.  Dominic (Vin Diesel) is shacked up on some seaside property with the added benefit of being immune from extradition.  His sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and old friend Brian (Paul Walker) are expecting their first child.  Worldwide the rest of the crew is either taking it easy or continuing on their lives.  Luke Hobbs (Johnson) interrupts their retirement to help catch a similar crew of international thieves led by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and, unusually, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) - who seems to have recovered nicely from that bullet to the head she took in the fourth film.

27Apr/110

Fast and Furious Marathon Journal (2001-2009) Part II

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Click here for part I

We are now starting “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” a movie that stars no one from previous parts of the series and again has a new director; the only connection is has with other parts is it has the same title. I was not impressed with this movie the first time but I have liked what the director has done since this (Fast andFurious, Community episodes) so I am watching the movie with hopeful expectations that it is better than I remembered.

“Tokyo Drift:”

Ryan- 03 min: We have an appearance by Zachary Ty Bryan, who will always be known for his time as the eldest son on “Home Improvement.” This movie came out in 2006 and Bryan is my age, so that meant he was 25 when he made this and was still playing high schoolers, I doubt that is the career he imagined but at least he is working.

Ben- 4 min: You mean to tell me all the quaint charm of cholos, rappers-turned-actors and Asian schoolgirls have been replaced by white-bread, douchebag high schoolers? This is the definition of starting off on the wrong foot.

Ryan- 05 min- Awesome car chase through the new housing complex, although I believe that “Bawitba” by Kid Rock makes everything 20% cooler. Folding laundry, cooking food, balancing a checkbook if you are blasting Kid Rock, you are that much more of a badass. All kidding aside, this scene shows that the director has some talent.

Ben- 9 min: I think they just spent half heir production budget on that car crash. He flips his car and all he has is a bruise and a butterfly bandage on his forehead? I’ve been in fender-benders and come out worse.

Ben- 12 min: Clearly Tokyo is the most logical solution to juvenile delinquency. I shoplifted once and was sent to Saigon for nearly three years.

Ben- 17 min: Apparently it’s Hollywood scripture that any film taking place in Japan has to feature the music of the 6, 6, 7, and 8s. This might be the first time mainstream studios have gotten something right.

Ryan- 19min: Bow Wow shows up in the film; I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, but this movie really needs something to counteract the southern black hole that is our lead.

Ben- 21 min: Must every silence be filled with a soundtrack? I’ve watched music videos with more dialogue and story than this. And why were there more pleated skirts in the first “Fast and Furious” than the film that could legitimately feature Asian school girls?

Ryan- 22 min: The movie finally gives the viewers what they want, the long one shot of people sitting next to their cars. You couldn’t have a Fast and Furious movie without it, that would be like a Jean Claude Van Damme movie where he doesn’t do the splits.

Ben- 24 min: It’s literally adorable to see street toughs in countries where guns about as common than unicorns.

Han, the greatest thing from the third film.

Ryan- 27 min: the introduction to Drifting and our first race in Japan. I have never tried to drift, but it looks very similar to the power slide that I perfected in Mario Kart.

Ben- 29 min: The real lesson here is that parking garages offer less opportunity for legitimate cinematography and are best for rapid-fire edits and blurry shaky cam. While Nos-vision was annoying, it’d be a welcome change here.

Ryan- 39 min: I have been watching “Fast and the Furious” movies for almost 4 and a half hours. I am starting to fade out. I still have one and a half films to get through; this task might be harder than I thought. At least now in “Tokyo Drift,” Han is in the movie, the most interesting guy to be introduced yet.

Ben- 33 min: Cliché counter: so our Generic Southern Douche has nowhere else to go and will live under these rules while in this house. “Tokyo Drift” is shaping up to be “The Fast and the Furious” meets “Officer and a Gentleman” meets every bad after-school from the 80s. I think I need a drink.

Ben- 45 min: Words of wisdom: “I don’t just think outside of the box; I tear it up.” Sadly, none of that creativity was applied to the screenplay.

Ryan- 51 min: We finally had the obligatory heart to heart in the film this time it is between Sean and Han before we segway into a training montage.

Ben- 55 min: The learning to drive montage! For the record, the whisky is not helping nearly as much as I assumed it would.

Ben- 1:04: Unnecessary back-story? Budding relationships? I smell a merciful third act coming; thank God. I know who I should be rooting for, yet I’m conflicted. With Han gone, I’m awaiting a swift demise for everyone onscreen.

Ben- 1:23: The loser of a race leaves town for good? Man, I can’t wait to see who wins! The movie is over when someone wins, right? You know it’s good when you’re ending is ripped from the Professional Wrestling playbook.

Ben- 1:26: Montage! Now we’re talking. If only all of life’s complex tasks could be visualized as a series of edits that make hours/days/weeks/months– we’re never quite sure– of work take a scant few moments.

Ben- 1:34: So the villain is probably dead and everyone cheers? Curious.

 

It is the great tool stare off of 2006

Ryan- Ok I kind of gave up in the film again and stopped doing the running diary. I have realized this movie is not horrible, it is just not my type of film. There didn’t seem to be much plot going on in the film and it was a new version of the fish out of water, sully teenager film that they have been making since the 50’s. The bad guys were weak, the reasons anything happened were slight, and the protagonist was bland. After a few moments of seeing the cars drift, I missed the car scenes from the other films that were much more exciting. Sadly, my favorite part of the film was the Vin Diesel cameo at the end. Next film, thankfully we will get back to what works best in the film series with the original cast.

Ben- When a 40 second cameo from a real movie star eclipses the last 90 minutes, you can be relatively certain that the film was less than stellar. Such is the case for this thoroughly mediocre, moronically cliché tripe.

Ok, we have made the final leg of our journey and we are about to welcome back the original cast who frankly didn’t set the world on fire between this movie and the original. Let’s watch them recapture the magic of the first and best film of the series.

“Fast and Furious:”

Ryan- 00 min: We start out great with an awesome gas truck heist (going after those poor truckers again). We welcome back Dom, Letty and Han who is otherwise known as the one good thing about the third film. Thankfully we are away from cars that drift and back to chases, wrecks and big freaking explosions. The first five minutes remind me of the pre credits sequences from James Bond films and this is not a bad thing to be compared to.

Ben- 1 min: Jacking trucks while cracking jokes. I never thought I’d say this but, Oh, Vin Diesel, how I’ve missed you; you’re the best bald action hero since Bruce Willis. Even Michelle Rodriguez is a welcome sight after the previous cinematic abortion. However, I had no idea a truck could move that quickly while going backward.

Vin, so good to see you again buddy!

Ryan- 07 min: Our credits sequence and first shot of drag racing and hot women hanging out in front of cars. If someone edited all of these scenes from the four films together would there be enough footage for another film.

Ben- 7 min: Ridiculous action sequence. Thankfully, all signs are pointing to big, dumb disbelief-suspended fun.

Ryan-:09 Dom is breaking up the gang, which is not good for Han since he leaves for Tokyo and his eventual death.

Ryan-: 11 min: Welcome back Brian, you apparently turned into a badass since we saw you hanging out in Miami. Just like Dom was reintroduced with a cool car chase, you get a good foot chase. Let me again take the time right here and say how perfect Justin Lin is for this series. He has a good eye for action and makes the action come alive but not in the over-the-top way John Singleton went.

Ben- 14 min: Paul Walker is supposed to be a badass now? I’m not sure I buy it. Running across rooftops looked much more convincing in “The Crow.”

Ryan-15 min: Dom finds out Letty is murdered. He broke up the gang to keep everyone safe but Letty is murdered here and Han sometime in the future, I don’t think he achieved his goal.

Ryan-: 17 min: A known car nut and wanted criminal is back in town and the cops are not watching the garage next to the house. Not the smartest cops on the force staking out the house.

 

Great action in the 4th film.

Ryan- 19 min: Lets get some exposition about the bad guy.

Ryan- 20 min: One of the greatest scenes in the franchise. Dom goes CSI on the film and by seeing skid marks and reside on the ground is able to piece exactly what happened to Letty and who is partially responsible. It is very reminiscent of a CBS procedural, I am smelling TV-spinoff for Vin.

Ben- 21 min: Dom’s visualization of Letty’s crash looks like a combination of “Boondock Saints” and “Criminal Minds.”

Ryan- No one does pissed off and looking for vengeance better than Diesel. The premise of Vin Diesel looking for revenge would probably get me in the theater seat no matter what else is going on in the film.

Ryan- Exactly a half hour in the film and the onscreen couple we are all rooting for are reunited. I don’t know why Diesel and Walker work well together but they really do.

Ben- 30 min: Vin Diesel should be hanging a man from a window in every one of his films; the Disney schtick might pay the bills, but being large, growling, and menacing is what Diesel is best at.

Ryan- 32 min: Brian really did seem to become a badass between movies, quickly kicking the ass of a fellow FBI agent. I think Walker starring in the awesome and underrated film Running Scared did wonders for his ability to “play tough”.

Ben- 33 min: Montage! Remember, kids: a film’s quality is inversely proportionate to its number of montages.

Ryan- 34 min: It has been a half hour since we had a scene with lots of people standing in front of their cars, let’s have another montage.

Ryan- 38 min: Car chase with GPS, something new and it works in a cheesy type of way. I am glad we finally get a drag race in traffic because before this, most races seem to take place on the one deserted street in LA, Miami etc… and once again let me say that the director can stage a cool chase.

Ben- 38 min: I know these movies are centered upon street racing culture, but action scenes in real traffic, with more legitimate stakes, are infinitely more engaging.

Ryan- 40 min: One last question about this chase, does the fact that Diesel gets a awesome old school muscle car vs. Walker’s small little import mean anything deeper?

 

Best thing about 4? No drifting like this.

Ryan- 42 min: Onto the next montage of people in front of their cars with loud music, do they film a different one every time or do they just get reedit the same stock footage over and over again.

Ben- 45 min: “Papa Dwight wants you to take off your shoes. Dwight likes feet.” If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve uttered almost that exact phrase.

Ben- 47 min: Dom is still drinking Corona. Man, it’s that kind of internal consistency I’ve come to love from these characters.

Ryan- 59 min: We have the drug run into Mexico, did the bad guys construct a garage door into the tunnel. Did they find an old bat cave Bruce Wayne wasn’t using?

Ben- 59 min: The tunnels look like something out of a videogame, and definitely not in a good way. It’s times like these I hate CGI; if you can’t do something with practical effects, perhaps it shouldn’t be done.

Ryan- 1:04: I do enjoy watching Vin Diesel kick ass. Why couldn’t many movies figure out how to use him? It shouldn’t be that hard because they sure knew how to do it in the 80’s. The fact that Adrien Brody gets as many high profile action films as Diesel and The Rock shows something is wrong with action films these days.

Ben- 1:07: Perhaps it’s watching these films in order– or perhaps it’s the whisky for the last two hours– but there seems to be actual chemistry between characters. I’m surprised by you, Paul Walker. Pleasantly surprised.

Ben- 1:11: Someday I hope to be able to take a bullet in the should and not only NOT flinch, but to then be able to pound the tar out of someone. Oh, to be a superhuman movie anti-hero.

Ryan- 1:20: Dom is again in the garage while “everyone is looking for him;” maybe the FBI and LAPD should look at the garage next to the house with the lights on.

Ben- 1:26: Gunned down in a church; that’s how I’d want to go. P.S. a lesson for the kids: never get on your knees in front of a Catholic priest; you’re just tempting fate. You know, having the villain funding churches and accepting blessings only adds to the perennial Black Eye of organized religion.

Ryan- 1:32: and we are back in the tunnels, the destruction derby/car chase in the claustrophobic tunnels is different than most of the chases before. The movie brought it’s A-game to the end of this film.

Ryan- 1:35: I thoroughly enjoyed the bad guy getting crushed by a muscle car flying in at 100+MPH and the Vin Diesel line reading of “pussy.” Don’t judge me.

Ryan- 1:39: and the movie is over with the promise of a jail break. After watching the 4 all together, I must say that I think the fourth film is probably the best made and the most enjoyable. I think it has to do with the fact that the cast and director that should have been together finally were. We got great action pieces, Diesel and Walker back into the film and overall a fun time. I know that I am really looking forward to Fast Five, especially since they are adding the Rock to the mix.

Ben- I hate to admit it, but I now want to see where this franchise is headed. Admittedly, The Rock is one of my cinematic guilty pleasures and I’m not looking forward to “Fast Five” much more than I ever thought possible. As long as the latest installment is more “Fast and Furious” and less “Tokyo Drift,” the film should tear up the box office.

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27Apr/110

Fast and Furious Marathon Journal (2001-2009)

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There are a few things in film I genuinely love: cars, men acting tough, explosions and a healthy smattering of Vin Diesel. So it is probably no surprise that I am a fan of “The Fast and the Furious” series. With the fifth movie shortly coming out in theaters– and adding The Rock to the cast– I am getting excited to rejoin the world of fast cars, Paul Walker and crazy action scenes. Because we have a day off and like turning things into events, sometime-contributor to our site Ben Erwin and I decided to watch all four previous films in the franchise in a marathon setting and share our thoughts in a massive daylong journal. Please take this testosterone-riddled journey along with us and– for at least a few hours– live your life a quarter-mile at a time.

Ryan- It is early morning here in my household and while the family is out, I am comfortable in my PJ,s watching the first film with the sound cranked and the film on my 6-foot projector screen. It is time to roll, baby.

Ben– While I am a casual fan of the franchise as a whole, I have to admit I haven’t seen the original two since their theatrical releases, and I have never seen “Tokyo Drift.” I’m not much of a “car guy,” but this may be the only franchise that makes me want to cruise an open highway at top speed.

Ryan- 1 minute in: Right off the bat, the car scenes start and they are at the expense of the franchises’ most tormented people, truck drivers. What does this film have against our truck drivers? They are repeatedly beaten up, robbed and picked on. Come on “Fast and the Furious,” let’s have some respect; truck drivers have given us such great things as “BJ and the Bear,” “Convoy” and the Patrick Swayze/Meatloaf epic “Black Dog.”

Ben- 1 minute: Product placement, ahoy. You know a film is going to be good when the third shot includes 100 Panasonic logos, all in focus and nicely framed.

Ben- 1 min 40 sec: We finally have cars, and they look both Fast and Furious. God, it seems like that took forever. Enough character moments and interminable exposition; I want Hondas with unnecessarily ridiculous spoilers. It took almost two excruciating minutes, but the film’s promise has finally been delivered.

Ben- 4 minutes in: a disclaimer to the kids out there: don’t test your car’s handling near that bluff.

Ryan – 4 minutes in, we are introduced to Vince, the generic muscle head who supposedly has a thing for Mia, but I think he is more jealous of the relationship between Dom and Brian. My third post and I am already finding homoerotic tensions in the film; trust me, we will see a lot more of these type of posts in “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

Ben- 5 min: Vin Diesel is filling out paperwork and glowering menacingly. You know, he’s a decent actor as long as he’s not saying anything or doing anything.

Ben- 6 min: Oooh, who’s the square-jawed tranny with flames on its boots? Oh, wait, just a pre-DUI Michelle Rodriguez. Nevermind. Move along; nothing to see here. The meathead with the awful dragon tattoos calls the wispy guy who is inexplicably wearing a stocking cap in summer “brother.” They’re family. Now that’s what I call showing and not telling.

Ryan- 11 minutes in: we have our first shot of the street racing. Signs that this film is kind of dated, the soundtrack is blaring Limb Bizkit. The guy that plays Jesse in “Fast and The Furious” and Mouse in “The Matrix,” are him and DJ Qualls interchangeable? I mean, would anyone notice if the two switched careers?

 

 

Our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

 

Ben- 12 min: Words of wisdom: “It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car.” Thanks, Ja Rule. How’s that acting-rapper thing working for you these days?

Ryan- 18 minutes: our first race. I think the people in the “Fast and Furious” films use NOS more than I use the little arrows that speed you up in Mario Kart.
Ryan- I love all the oohs and aaahs in the scene where Dom is talking trash in mechanic speak to Brian. I feel like I stumbled into a bad Your Mama episode.

Ben- 22 min: Words of Wisdom: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.” If no one has already written the Tao of Being Fast and Furious, I really want to now.

Ryan- 25 minutes in: we are introduced to the Asian biker gang. The snakeskin pants on one of the “heavies” doesn’t really give him a threatening vibe.

Ben- 27 min: I’m not a physics major, but I’m pretty sure a guy in a car can run over a guy on a motorcycle… especially if the motorcycle’s driver is 5’ 2” and wearing a mesh tank-top.

Ryan- After the biker gang, we are ready for Dom’s house party. Dom insults Vince in apparently the most humiliating way, HE GAVE BRIAN HIS BEER. Vince is not angry, he is just upset because Dom is breaking his heart.

Ben- 31 minutes: Now I know I’m not the demographic for this film. I could care less about any of the cars, but that Zakk Wylde signature model Gibson is a thing of beauty.
Ben- 34 min. Oooh, Brian meets Dom’s sister. You can almost see this movie becoming “Point Break” right before your eyes.

Ryan- 40 minutes in: another clue that the movie is getting old, a loving long shot of them putting a floppy disk into a computer.

Ryan- Vince the scorned lover shows up and disappears again. While we are at a lull in the story, can we think about whether the movie would have been the same without Paul Walker? I don’t know exactly what he brings to the franchise (heaven knows it ain’t great acting) but my least favorite film of the series is the one where he isn’t present. His Keanu vibe really is unexplainable and irreplaceable.

Ben- 45 min: I love that Harry’s is the most popular shop in the world of underground street racing, but there’s always plenty of parking for a crew pulling up all at once.

Ryan- Has there ever been a mystery less interesting or more predictable than who hijacked the trucks. Who didn’t think it was Dom from the beginning?

Vin wants to give you a hug.

Ben- 50 min: For a pack of criminals, these guys drive the most conspicuous cars on the planet.

Ben- 54 min: A “no smoking” message? Really? Of all the things in this movie the police might take umbrage with and it’s smoking?

Ryan- 56 Minutes: we get our first shot of Muscle Car Porn from the series. Does this car seem unnecessary and just there to just to excite the car freak? Yes, but it still excites this car freak.

Ben- 56 min: Oh my God, a REAL car. You know, for a movie about “cars,” this is the first one that doesn’t look like it came out of a cereal box.

Ryan- “I live my life a quarter inch of a time” Does a cheesy line sum up a series of a film so well?

Ben- 1:00: Cue the exposition. Why craft a backstory when you can relay decades of history through a single conversation. P.S. A woman is actually doing something in this film… and it only took an hour.

Ben- 1:02: Montage 2! At least this one has a song by the band Dope in the background. For more on failed Nü Metal acts of the late ‘90s, please consult your local library.

Ryan- 1:06: it’s time for race wars, but not before we have a scene of them embarrassing a Ferrari and Dom and Brian having another heart to heart.

Ben- 1:12: Where the Hell did these guys get a trailer? I’m willing to suspend a lot of disbelief to enjoy these films, but really? An Airstream materializes out of nowhere? I’m mostly shocked no one covered it with ridiculous decals and put neon lights underneath it.

Ryan- It is interesting watching the first film again after seeing all the other ones. I forgot how much the first film was just about race/car culture with the whole crime story just being a secondary piece of the film. Later on in the series the crime aspects become the big draw but The Fast and the Furious cares more about the cars, the racing and the world.

Ryan- I could do without the whole Jesse storyline. Apparently so did the other fans of the series because no character like him has shown up in the series since.

These cars are about to go fast and or furious.

Ryan- 1:21: I love scenes with actual cars and stunt drivers. They are so much better and thrilling than the CG enhanced scenes. The scene is still a great action set piece almost 10 years later. The lack of any music behind the action and just hearing the sounds of the cars and wind really add to it.

Ben- 1:25: For an action movie, this is the first scene in the film with any sense of suspense or actual action. For future reference, car speeding on vacant streets is to action as Dane Cook is to comedy: it’s an adorable attempt, but an epic failure nonetheless.

Ryan- Apparently the guy who played Leon, the one guy in Dom’s crew who had no story or much of a character at all is played by an actor with the name of Johnny Strong. Now THAT is an awesome name!

Ryan- 1:30 Jesse’s tragic end and the world goes on not caring but at least it gets Dom into the badass Charger for the end of the film.

Ryan- I still love the railroad drag race, even thought it ends with them wrecking the Charger.

Ben- 1:37: Nothing has happened for the last hour and they pack all of the action into the last 20 minutes of the film. The death of the Charger is by far the most heart-wrenching in this film.

Ryan- 1:39: and the movie ends with Ja Rule ditty on the credits. One big question I have. Whatever the hell happened to Leon? You see Dom, Brian, Mia and Letty in other films in the series. Jesse is dead and Vince is injured but Leon makes it through the movie unscathed and apparently not arrested. Is he still in LA waiting for Dom to come back and tell him what to do? I am just imagining him sitting by the phone for the last 10 years waiting for him to call.

Ryan- 1:46: After the credits, we see the last shot of Vin Diesel in the series for a long time. Adios Dom, enjoy your time off and we will see you later today.

We are about to start “2 Fast 2 Furious” and we see many changes between the first film and the second. Director Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel did not come back for the sequel, instead deciding to make the horrendous Extreme James Bond film “XXX.” Paul Walker is the only returning member of the cast, and it is on Paul Walker’s shoulders to keep the series alive, which he does. It opened bigger than the first but without as big of legs, and did more than enough to merit a third film. Lets take a look at the film now shall we?

“2 Fast 2 Furious”

Ben- 1 min: Just in case I had no idea what this movie was going to be about, the Universal logo just turned into a tire. Bring on the awesome.

Ryan- What director John Singleton does with the Universal Logo says all you need to know about what “2 Fast 2 Furious” is going to be like. We start the film at one of the patented racing scenes/party. Already I notice that there are a lot more neon colors in this film than the first. The Fast and The Furious was gritty washed out color and now we are in Willy Wonka’s Candy Warehouse.

Ryan- I love films that somehow work the name of their movie into the film but having it being played in the background during a rap song is somehow less awesome.

Ryan- Awesome dialogue, even better if you pretend they are talking about masturbating:

“Thanks for the invite.” 
"No problem at all just remember me when you wax alright”
 “They got deep pockets?” 
“(Laugh) Real deep”

Ben- 10 min: Apparently, it’s incredibly easy to close streets in Florida. Sadly, no one told the filmmakers that low-angle shots, blurs, and close-ups on characters eyes doesn’t actually build tension or suspense. I miss Vin Diesel already.

Greatest title ever? Maybe, just maybe.

Ryan- 12 minutes: we jump our first bridge.

Ben- 13 min: Why is Devon Aoki happy? Does she get a prize for second place?

Ryan- 14 minutes: Eva Mendes shows up and looks sexy. I have seen this movie a few times and I still can’t tell if she was supposed to be the love interest in this film. She and Paul Walker really don’t have any sort of chemistry but, by the end, she does become the damsel in distress.

Ryan- 19 minutes: we meet Brian’s true love interest in the film, Roman Pearce (Tyrese) a childhood friend of Brian’s.

Ryan- 22 minutes: Later, the two are rolling around in the dirt together. This movie kind of has homoerotic undertones between the two.

Ben- 22 min: No one raises an eyebrow when two grown men start beating the Hell out of each other. Where are they again? I want to go to there.

Ryan- 28 minutes: the villain of the piece shows up and it is the dude that was in “Pitch Black” who wasn’t Vin Diesel. Carter gives the drivers a task that is out of a video game and our heroes, along with a lot of stereotypes in much cooler cars, are off to retrieve something in a glove box.

Look at all the pretty colors.

Ryan- 34 minutes- Roman takes his shirt off to impress Brain (at least that is what I take from it) and because Tyrese is contractually obligated to show off his abs.

Ben- 34 min: Little-known secret: Tyrese actually breathes through his abs, so him removing his shirt without cause is a matter of safety. And nothing more. Seriously.

Ryan- 36 minutes: Roman is jealous of Brian because he is checking out Monica (Mendes). He gets in a tiff the same way my wife does when I admire a pretty woman. Like I said, LOTS of homoerotic subtext in this film.

Ryan- 40 minutes: Roman has to casually remark to Brian he isn’t wearing underwear. Not touching that one.

Ben- 41 min: If there’s anything you can count on in this franchise, it is that the women are shot as lovingly and as leeringly as the best of the cars. Of course, I’m not entirely sure what this says about the filmmakers… or the audience.

Ryan- 42 minutes: Roman remarks that he doesn’t want to stay with Brian “because he has bad habits”

Ryan- 44 minutes: Tyrese does his best Eddie Murphy impression from Beverly Hills Cop.

Ryan- I think Tyrese and Walker were trying to figure out what happens when, in a buddy picture, one person under acts and one person over acts through the whole film. I am not an expert, but I think that is how tornados are made.

Ben- This is precisely why male models should never be allowed to act. Blue Steel, Le tigre, Ferrari? They’re all the same look, people.

Ryan- 49 minutes: A first in the series, a tag team race. I am pretty sure by the end of the race, Brain had shifted his car into about 18th gear. Thankfully, this race gives the heroes much cooler cars to drive for the rest of the film.

Ben- 49 min: God, I almost forgot these movies were supposed to be about street racing and car porn, not buddy-com clichés.

 

I don't know if the fact that the cars match the people's are cute or sad.

Ben-53 min: Never before have I wanted a game of Chicken to end in mutual destruction.

Ben- 55 min: The Brain and Roman visit the nightspot frequented by their new Scarface-wannabe boss. As someone from the Midwest, this is what I assume all nightclubs in Miami are like… except for those asinine bubble chairs.

Ryan- 59 minutes: we are introduced to actor Mark Boone Junior, who has made a career out of playing dirty cops, playing (surprise) dirty cop Whitworth. They torture him via a rat; I would say that is creative, but something similar happened in the same summer’s “Bad Boys II.” Apparently 2003 was the year of the weird torture by small animals.

Ben- 1:01: I feel really bad for that rat. Sure, being tortured in a bucket is one thing, but being in this movie is another indignity entirely. Perhaps he and Paul Walker have the same agent.

Ryan- 1:05: We have yet another instance of Roman being jealous over Monica; this is getting awkward.

Ryan- 1:12: We are having the heart to heart between our heroes almost to the minute as the first film.

Ryan- 1:18: I do love me some car chases.

Ben- 1:18: Chase scene. I think the “Blues Brothers” already did this better.

Ben- 1:22: Thug: “You’re a good driver, man.” Brian: “Thanks, bro.” See, they’ve bonded. What could possibly go wrong?

Ryan- 1:28: ok, that was a long chase scene.

Ryan- 1:33: we are at the last part of the film and I still have not seen any kind of chemistry between Paul Walker and Eva Mendes. They never shared a kiss or even a meaningful glance. So was she a love interest or just a woman who is in the story? I am confused to her main purpose in the film.

I sense a love connection.

Ryan- 1:35: Dukes of Hazard jump from car to boat works for me. I am also happy that they actually showed that doing that would leave their mark on you.

Ben- 1:36: Suddenly, it’s not a movie about street racing and it’s not an action-crime film. What we have here is a glorified “Dukes of Hazard” episode. They could have at least had the decency to pay for a little Waylon Jennings.

Ryan- 1:40: The credits are rolling. While I like “2 Fast 2 Furious,” it is a much different than the original. I see this film as more of a parody of the first one. Everything is hyper stylized and over the top as opposed to the original, which was akin to a modern version of the B-movie car picture that was big in the 60’s and 70’s; but as long as you watch each film in the right mind frame, enjoyment can be had from both of them. The true test for me is coming straight up when I watch “Tokyo Drift,” a movie I really disliked the one and only time I watched it.

Ben- 1:40: I suppose it’s a long way from Boyz n the Hood” for John Singleton, but at least this wasn’t half as bad as that “Shaft” remake. These first two movies are both big, dumb fun. Thankfully, they’re equal part of each, and even the most ridiculous flights of nonsense are ultimately balanced by fun visuals.

Click here for part II

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3Oct/170

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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Life is good for Dom Toretto.  He's mostly retired, has the love of his life Letty by his side, and is content to race for respect over cash.  His idyllic existence comes to an end with the emergence of a criminal hacker known as Cipher who has information that gets Dom to turn on his team.  F. Gary Gray directs The Fate of the Furious, with the screenplay written by Chris Morgan, and stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, and Jason Statham.

It's a small miracle the Fast and Furious franchise has produced a couple of good films.  The larger miracle is that they've made two excellent films, a handful of good ones, and two snoozers (with respect to Ryan's conversation, Tokyo Drift is way better than the fourth entry.)  The writing was on the wall with the seventh installment and I couldn't help but feel the doubt creeping in that this franchise could last much longer.  After dragging a safe all over Rio and keeping a plane grounded through sheer force of car in the fifth and sixth entries, Dom (Vin Diesel) doing a bit of inter-skyscraper automobile parkour felt like a step back.  Now, with The Fate of the Furious, Dom and his team are outrunning a nuclear submarine and it feels as though this creative endeavor needs a hard reboot after James Bond did something similar in the worst Pierce Brosnan 007 film.

One problem with The Fate of the Furious is unavoidable.  Paul Walker's tragic death left these characters without his heartfelt character work to bounce off of.  The other problem is similar but was written into the fabric of the series with Sung Kang's Han killed off by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in the seventh installment.  Much of the best comedy in the sixth installment - still my favorite - came from Kang and Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce flailing in fights way out of their league.  Now Roman's cowardice has less people to bounce off of, and the law of diminishing returns kicks in as there are less fresh ways to frame him.

6Jul/150

Furious 7 (2015)

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Dom and the Furious crew are called back into action after suffering the loss of one of their own.  The villainous Deckard Shaw begins hunting Dom's crew one by one for revenge after the events of Fast & Furious 6.  James Wan makes his franchise-debut as director with a screenplay written by Chris Morgan and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Michelle Rodriguez.  Ryan and his friend Ben watched the first four films (Part I and Part II) in preparation for Ryan watching and reviewing Fast Five.  Andrew previously reviewed Fast & Furious 6.

Same old paint jobThe Fast and Furious franchise, no matter what naming scheme each installment comes up with, has impressed me since its inception.   Vin Diesel and company have made a diverse and fun universe where cynicism is reserved for the bad guys and cars do things no one would dream of attempting.  Furious 7, the first with director James Wan who takes over after Justin Lin’s four film streak, supplies the usual.  We’ve got one-liners, cars flying through the air, and enough exotic locations to rival James Bond.

On that metric, Furious 7 is a success, but I felt a strong disconnect I didn’t feel with the other entry’s (save the dull fourth installment).  Some part of that is unavoidable, as the tragic death of Paul Walker left the series with less heart than when it started.  But other parts throw the future of the franchise into question.  I think of the way Dwayne Johnson barely seems to be interacting with the rest of the crew, or the way Wan’s camera lingers just a bit longer on the barely clothed car beauties than usual, or a touch extra style making the action confusing when the plot is anything but.

The question I come to when Furious 7’s credits rolled is – just because the franchise can continue, should it?  True, there’s enough good spots in Furious 7 to please the diehards, but after the escalating craziness of the earlier chapters the reduced diversity of this one make the finished product feel less satisfying.