Fast 9 – The Fast Saga revs things up with a trailer.


When it comes to the Fast and Furious franchise, Tokyo Drift is my favorite, followed closely by Fast Five. I thought the franchise should have ended at 7 with the death of Paul Walker, but the show went on with The Fate of the Furious. They managed to close off all of the loops between the earlier movies, After a bit of a spat between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, Johnson branched off with his character Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw on their own film, Hobbs & Shaw. 

Not to be left behind, we now have the ninth entry in the franchise. F9 reunites director Justin Lin with Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez, and Nathalie Emmanuel. John Cena (Bumblebee) plays the villain this time around, as a thief with personal ties to Dominic Toretto.  With this trailer, we see a few very familiar faces, including Tokyo Drift’s Lucas Black and Sung Kang. How Kang’s character Han is still alive, I don’t know, but we’ll find out this May when the film releases.

Enjoy.

Film Review: Furious 7 (dir by James Wan)


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Regardless of what you may think about the rest of Furious 7, the final ten minutes will make you cry.  They made me cry and, before I saw Furious 7, I wasn’t even really a fan of the franchise.  It’s not a spoiler to tell you that Furious 7 ends with a tribute to both the character Brian O’Connor and the actor who played him, Paul Walker.  While Dominic Toretto (played, of course, by Vin Diesel) says goodbye to Brian, we see a montage of clips of Brian throughout the previous Fast and Furious Films and it’s so poignant to see how Paul Walker transformed over the course of the series, going from being a somewhat bland teen heart throb to becoming a genuinely charismatic leading man.  Watching the montage, you can see that Paul Walker was still growing as an actor and you’re reminded of just what a shock it was when we first heard the news of his death in 2013.

And, of course, we’re very aware that, as Dominic is saying goodbye to Brian and we’re saying goodbye to the actor who played him, Vin Diesel is saying goodbye to his friend.  That Diesel and Walker were friends on-screen and off is no secret.  In fact, that friendship has always been one of the big appeals of the Fast and Furious franchise.  The films are about a group of people (mostly men) who care about each other and who aren’t ashamed to admit it.  When Dominic delivers the film’s final monologue, it’s really all about Vin saying goodbye to Paul.  By the time the words “For Paul” appeared on the screen, there was not a dry eye in the theater.

The death of Paul Walker adds an undeniable poignancy to Furious 7 and it’s sometimes hard to separate the real-life tragedy from what we’re watching on screen.  But here’s the thing — Furious 7 works as both a heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker and as a wonderfully over-the-top and fun action movie.  Furious 7 is a burst of pure adrenaline and style that epitomizes everything that you could possibly want out of an action movie.

Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw, a former government assassin who has a personal vendetta against Dom, Brian, and practically everyone else who has ever been a Fast and Furious movie.  Statham isn’t in a lot of scenes but whenever he shows up, he kicks ass and watching Furious 7 was probably the first time that I’ve ever truly understood Statham’s appeal.  How impressive is Jason Statham in this film?  He puts Dwayne Johnson in the hospital, that’s how impressive he is.  And what’s amazing is that after watching their fight scene, you totally believe that Jason Statham could put Dwayne Johnson in the hospital.

Another government agent, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, having a great time), offers to help Dom take out Deckard but first, Dom and his crew have to do a favor for Mr. Nobody.  They have to rescue a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) from an African warlord (Djimon Honsou) who is obviously based on Joseph Kony.  That hacker knows about the location of a device that will allow the government to track down Deckard but the device has already been sold to a billionaire who lives in Abu Dhabi….

Ultimately, the exact specifics and logic of it all doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Dwayne Johnson are all back and they’re all a lot of fun to watch.  What matters is that the cars look good and the stunt work is just as amazing as you were hoping.  What matters is that the film features things that you never thought you’d see — like cars parachuting down to a mountain road and jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper.

This is an exciting film.  It’s a fun film.  It’s an entertaining film.  It’s a stylish film.  And, ultimately, it’s a film that will make you cry.

What more can you ask for?

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Quick Review: Fast & Furious 6 (dir. by Justin Lin)


url-6Thinking back on the original Fast & Furious film, I still find it hard to believe it’s done so well over the years. The longevity of the films owe a lot to the Saw series, which seems fitting considering that the original director of that film will take over the reigns for the next installment. Both series have managed to take events from all of their films and weave this strange tapestry with it. Once you think one story is over, the writers somehow jump back to an earlier scene and pull out a new thread for everyone to follow. Gimmicky? Perhaps, but it works, at least for this tale.

To sum up Furious 6 in a nutshell, Dominic Toretto’s team has to help Hobbs (the lawman who was after them in Furious 5) stop a former SAS agent who is using cars to facilitate his acts of terror. Why get involved, one asks? Hobbs sweetens the deal by showing Dom that his formerly believed dead girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is…wait for it….not dead, and is working with these bad guys.

It’s like General Hospital with Cars. I’m such a sucker for this franchise.

If you’re new to the Furious films, the opening credits sum up the last 5 movies in a Spider-Man 2 like montage. You have your main heroes, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), who are kind of like criminals only they take down bad guys to better others (or themselves). Along with them is Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), who is the mother of Brian’s baby boy, Jack (not to be confused with Jack Jack from The Incredibles). Then there’s the crew, made up of most of the characters from all of the Furious films leading up to 6:

From 2 Fast 2 Furious, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson return as two friends of Brian’s. Tej (Bridges) is the team hacker (wouldn’t be complete without one) and Roman (Tyrese) is the comic relief.

From Tokyo Drift (the 3rd and my personal favorite) comes Sung Kang, who plays Han. While he met his end in that film, every movie after the 3rd takes place somewhere before this film, believe it or not. This makes the ending of Tokyo Drift a little baffling when you see Toretto at the end of it. No matter what the writers decide to do with future installments, they’ll eventually have to circle back to how Dom got there.

From Fast & Furious. (No. 4) – We have Gal Gadot as Gisele, a former IDF member who was an accomplice to a drug cartel leader. Ironically, Gadot actually did some work with the Israeli forces, which I found interesting. She is the only member of that film to come back to the series as Don Omar and Tego Calderon sat this one out.

And finally from Fast Five, you have Hobbs (The Rock) and his former partner from Brazil, Elena (Elsa Pataky).

So, you have the setup. One of the things to understand about this (and some of the earlier ones) is that you’re working in a “Popcorn Reality”. The action’s all well and good, but in the course of all the driving, you’ll almost expect to see at least one or two action scenes or stunts that just don’t make any kind of practical sense. These GTFO moments are in great supply in Furious 6 – A runway chase that lasts a good 15 minutes, yet seems impossibly long for any plane to actually use for a take off. A “flip” car with the ability to send other cars launching into the air. In any other movie, most people would scoff and walk out. For this, it’s almost the norm and if you don’t care, it’s actually fun. Lin has been able to take the chase scenes about as far as they can possibly go, and I can’t really imagine what else they could try to push things, really.

Of particular note is Luke Evans, who plays the villain, Shaw. I didn’t really care for him in Tarsem’s Immortals, but  was good here, trying to be as much a Bond baddie as he can. Another addition is Gina Carano, who takes the place as Hobbs partner this time around. She’s a bit more light hearted here than she was in Haywire, and gets to showcase her fight skills. However, in a movie that’s already packed with stars performing particular roles, she doesn’t really have much to truly do other than to be Michelle Rodriguez’s sparring partner. Not a terrible thing, just something I noticed.

Is it worth it? Well, considering that most of the movies that came out since Fast & Furious 6 was released haven’t fared too well (Yes, I’m looking right at you, After Earth), it’s a safe bet if you also understand that this all revolves around cars driving very smooth and fast with near unlimited shift points. If you don’t like cars or racing, this might not be your cup of tea. There’s a lot of shooting at some points, which might  round things out for action fans. It’s a quick way to burn 2 hours. If you also managed to see at least the last film in the cinema, then this is a given – though you’ll probably be able to put 2 and 2 together before the story’s half done.

Also, do stick around once the credits start, as there’s a scene that will come up to help lay the groundwork for the next installment.

Trailer: Fast and Furious 6 (Extended First Look)


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During this year’s Super Bowl XLVII one of the films whose trailers were premiered was the latest and upcoming entry to the Fast and the Furious series. Since that day a new and much more extended look and version of that trailer has been released by Universal Pictures for everyone to look over.

When I say extended first look I mean extended. This trailer is over 3 minutes long and pretty much acts like a major sizzle reel that’s usually reserved for special screenings at conventions or trade shows. I was mistaken from the earlier post when I said the film has an M-1 tank in it to ramp up the epicness. It looks more like the newest French main battle tank, the Leclerc. I shall keep my opinion about the French Leclerc to myself….

Now, enjoy the extended first look of Fast and Furious 6.

Quickie Review: Fast Five (dir. by Justin Lin)


It would seem that the summer blockbuster film season starts earlier and earlier with each passing year. It used to be that the film which premiered during the Memorial Day weekend was the one which began the season, but now films which come out first weekend of May get to have that honor. Then 2011 decides to change things up and herald the summer blockbuster season not in May but the last weekend of April. The film which gets to do the honor this year looks to be Justin Lin’s fun and very action-packed fourth sequel to the undying street-racing franchise which began with 2001’s The Fast and The Furious. This fifth entry in the franchise was simply titled, Fast Five.

The series had always been about the world of illegal street-racing whether it was set in Los Angeles, Miami or Tokyo. There was always that aspect of the story which tied all four previous films together. It would have skilled, beautiful women who followed the scene and, of course, the fast cars themselves. Things began to change a bit with the fourth film, Fast and Furious, as the street racing became not the main focal point of the story but just an aspect of it. The franchise began to take on an action-thriller role. While it was good to see changes to the franchise that began to get stale that fourth film didn’t pull off the necessary changes as well as it should’ve. It would seem that Justin Lin was just testing the waters and finally got what he wanted with Fast Five.

This latest film in the franchise barely has any street-racing in the film. There’s a short sequence 2/3’s of the way in and Lin also inserts a couple of obligatory slo-mo scenes of street-racers gathering to show-off their rides and women, but Fast Five is more of a caper film than a street-racing one. It actually owes a lot more to the Ocean’s 11 films than anything else. We have returning character in Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torreto and his sister Mia (played by the radiant Jordana Brewster). Paul Walker as his erstwhile ally Brian O’Conner returns as well. It’s these three who anchor the heist team which would include returning characters from the previous four films. There’s the hothead Vince (Matt Schulze) from the first film. Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) come in from the second film. Sung Kang’s character Han from the third film appears so does Gisele, Tego and Rico from the fourth film. These returning character make-up what I would only call as Torreto’s Ten.

Fast Five begins just as the previous film ended as O’Conner and Mia break Dom out of the prison bus taking him to prison. From there the film moves to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where these three fugitives take on a job to earn themselves some money only to realize that they’ve inadvertently gone to work for Reyes, Rio’s most powerful crimelord (Joaquim de Almeida), who now has his sights on Dom’s crew. Not to make Dom’s life any easier is a Federal Task Force sent in to take him back to the U.S. in the form of Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson) and his elite team of agents. Dom and his crew will now have to escape not just Reyes and his thugs but Hobbs and his men. It’s the plan to do just both that make up most of the film’s story.

Justin Lin does a great job in not just explaining the details of the heist beforehand, but he does so without getting the film into too much of an expository exercise. He shows just as much as tell the job Torreto’s Ten must pull off if they’re to ever win their freedom. It’s the set-up to the heist and the execution of it which tie-in all the many, well-staged action sequences the film has. While street-racing has been relegated to just obligatory short scenes this film doesn’t lack for exciting carmeggedon and mayhem. From the prison bus escape to begin the film to the daring train robbery which follows it right down to the bank vault heist which takes up the last 10-15 minutes of the film. That sequence alone makes this film worth seeing as we see a 10-ton bank vault being hauled at high-speed through the streets of downtown Rio. Buildings get totaled and cars get tossed and smashed like tinker toys. Yet, as the PG-13 rating would point out we don’t know or see if anyone actually dies.

It’s that rating which keeps this film from ever joining the exploitation and grindhouse pedigree of such car mayhem films as Vanishing Point, Two-Lane Blacktop and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. But despite the limitations a PG-13 rating puts on Justin Lin’s Fast Five the film ends up becoming a very fun and exhilirating action-heist film that gives some new life to a franchise that was down to fumes. It helped that we get some good performances from most of the leads (Paul Walker still can’t do anything outside of performing as a surfer from California). It was also the addition of Dwayne Johnson as Federal Super-Agent Luke Hobbs which gives the film some of it’s fun. Johnson was able to match Diesel’s Dominic Torreto for the title of most badass in the film. In fact, the fight between the two was one of the highlights of the film (even though I still think Johnson probably would kick Diesel’s ass 100 out of 100 times).

Fast Five doesn’t disappoint and more than earns the honor of starting up 2011’s summer blockbuster season. Justin Lin has delivered a film in this franchise which stands out from the rest and more than likely reboots the series from a street-racing one and into just a plain old action series. His work in this film and how he handled the action also adds some credence and justification in him being given the next film in the Terminator franchise. He may just be the one to bring back some life into that dying franchise. So, strap on the seat belt and grab onto to something because Fast Five may just be one of the few films this summer that delivered on everything it promises in terms of action and fun.

Fast Five (Super Bowl TV Spot)


I know that the Fast and Furious franchise has been milked for as long as decent, but this latest tv spot for the fifth film in the series has made me rethink about not seeing it when it first comes out.

It looks to be concentrating more now on the action and less on how cool the cars are though from the looks of it they’re still driving around i some cool ass cars. Plus, this fifth one has the Rock back. I don’t mean Dwayne Johnson, but the Rock. Ever since he dropped the Rock moniker he had relagated himself to family-friendly films. He was truly cool on-screen when he was just the Rock.

Fast Five comes out this April 29, 2011.

Fast Five (Official Trailer)


Like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise this Vin Diesel racing franchise has been milked liked it has never been milked before. While it hasn’t reached the level of the Saw series this action-racing film series is definitely getting up there.

What started as Hollywood’s look and attempt to show underground street racing has become a joke amongst those who actually race for real. There’s a term for people who began to trick out their rides with elaborate color schemes, flames shooting out of exhaust pipes, body kits that changed the looks of the car right down to computerized control panels. Those people were going “fast and furious” and that wasn’t a compliment.

Real racers try to lighten a car and add horsepower instead of adding so much crap the way the people in the films do. They got the right cars to use whether it’s the so called “ricers” like Nissan Skyline to Subara Imprezas to Honda Civics or American classic muscle cars like the Dodge Charger R/T to Plymouth GTO’s. Everything else in terms of racing in this series are laughable, but entertaining and to Hollywood that is all that matters.

The last film in the series, Fast and Furious, has begun to move the franchise away from underground racing and into the realm of an action-thriller except with people racing cars. I’m fine with that and this latest entry in the franchise looks to move it even further from it’s roots. Plus, it has Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing another role to move him away from his Disney-fied roles of the past five years.

From the look of the trailer I think I will enjoy this flick. It’s not trying to reinvent anything plus it has Gal Gadot in it and that to me spells win.