Darke Reviews | Furious 7 (2015)

Furious 7.  As I have said in previous reviews when you are this invested in a franchise it is already a forgone conclusion that you are seeing this film. So how do I review it? Do I review it? Well of course I do. It’s worth mentioning as I open this that there was a clip in the pre movie commercials of Vin Diesel being asked if he thinks this is the best of the franchise. His response brought a tear to my eye.

“Whenever we went to a movie premier, I would turn to Paul and ask was it the best? He would look to me and tell me the best is still in the can. I am hoping to hear from him, somehow that he thinks this one is the best.” These men were brothers in real life as much as they were in the films. Even Paul’s mother knew it and is quoted by Diesel as saying “I thought they needed my strength but realized when I got there and broke down before his family, that it was I who needed theirs.”His mother hugged me and said I am so sorry … I said sorry? You’re the mother who lost a son? … She said yes, but you lost your other half.”

So how was the movie?

The writer on the franchise since Tokyo Drift , Chris Morgan, returns to give us what will likely be the last of the series. If Fast 5 was a love letter to Oceans 11 with cars and Furious 6 was a love letter to shark jumping everywhere, then this film is the love letter to Mission Impossible, while it jumps a shark with friggin lasers on their heads. It is gloriously over the top and embraces it with a smile and a Corona. The natural charm and chemistry of the returning cast members makes every ridiculous scene work. Morgan is also wise enough to give us slow moments where the characters can interact and show why we have stuck with them for the six previous movies. It’s not just long looks, but comes down to the performances and delivery which means Morgan needs some help from the cast

I won’t go too long here. Vin Diesel returns as Dominic Toretto who continues to stubborn and street prophet his way through the movies. Walker’s role is probably more reduced than originally intended, but the moments he gets with Mia (Jordana Brewster) sell every single time. Michelle Rodriguez continues as Letty and is both beautiful and one of the baddest women we have on screen. The meme of keep your pop icons, we have our own should equally apply to this woman. Tyrese keeps earning that paycheck as CinemaSins says and sadly continues to be the weakest part of the family. Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges is once again epic as Tej and a highlight for the film. Dwayne Johnson was born to be in this franchise and clearly has a blast with every single scene chewing line.

Joining this film is Statham as Lee Christmas, er the Driver, er …Deckard Shaw. Oh heck with it. Jason Statham is Jason Statham. Djimon Hounsou comes in as a secondary villain along with Tony Jaa and a brief but wicked appearance of Ronda Rousey. Kurt Russell makes his own appearance as Nobody taking a page from the Rock and looking to chew scenery. In my private fiction I think he was secretly Jack Burton 20 years later. Our movies McGuffin is a person this time, Nathalie Emmanuel, better known as Missandei from Game of Thrones. It was nice to hear her in her own speaking voice rather than her clipped precise tones from the show.

James Wan, best known for Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious is replacing Justin Lin at the helm. I think that might be where the seams begin to show. He just doesn’t have what Lin did. This isn’t to say he was horrible, but he isn’t as gifted with the camera or ensemble as Lin. There’s some weird camera tricks used that detract from the film and there just is not enough love for certain characters that I think comes down to the director more than anything else. Granted, he still directed the heck out of the film while the shark continued to do it’s double half back flip with a triple twist. He does run this far more as an over the top Mission Impossible action film than a car movie, but that comes across as an observation than a complaint.

From the technicals CG is CG. Physics is bound, gagged, slapped around, and hung up in an oubliette – and we don’t care! Seriously we don’t. You shouldn’t. The movie is absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense from a biologic, architectural, or engineering standpoint. Gravity? HA! Injuries? Don’t make me laugh. Actually the movie did more than a few times and I was thankful for it.

TL;DR?

The final film in the Fast franchise is so beautifully over the top any flaws it has, which there are a few, don’t seem to matter. This is one of the first movies this year I can feel comfortable saying “Go See it

– If you are invested already – you didn’t need my review.

– If you weren’t invested – you also didn’t need it. You weren’t going to see it anyway. Seeing it before the others is a disservice to the series.

The movie is good. It is beefcake. It is cheesecake. It is ridiculous and I love it for all of it. 14 years of these movies and the series can rest now. It earned it and got a good send off.

 

PS

Rollover spoiler –

I did cry at the end from the reshoots they added to address Paul Walkers death. Diesels send off for him was as much to the character of Brian as it was to Paul himself. It was moving and heartfelt. I am not sure what the original ending was, nor does it matter. This was good and I am glad they did it the way they did.

– end spoiler

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Darke Reviews | Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

You would be hard pressed to think of a franchise, any franchise, that by its sixth outing is actually remaining as entertaining and providing the same quality as its previous films. Its arguably getting better the longer it goes on.

This film takes Dom and Brian taking on another crew of equally skilled drivers who are far more ruthless and with less morality. The goal? Doesn’t really matter. There is a McGuffin, there always is. The real goal here is the return of Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz.

You want to know how they did it after the fourth movie? You know me – spoiler free. You will need to see the movie; though I will say I did not roll my eyes at the reveal or reasons. I lay that squarely on the hands of script writer Chris Morgan, who has been writing for the Fast series since Tokyo Drift. He has successfully interwoven all six movies and gives the appropriate callbacks, ties and links the stories in a manner that lesser writers would have been heavy handed with. Instead we get one line deliveries and a minimal amount of exposition, the barest of what’s needed.

Director Justin Lin, also with the franchise since Tokyo Drift has a feel for the stories and characters that make the movie series successful as it is. He knows how to shoot the action just as much as the quiet moments, with limited exceptions. He brings the best out of his cast and their natural chemistry and charisma.

You hear me mention charisma in some of my reviews and in my humble opinion it makes and breaks a “group” movie. This team has charisma, it shines like baby oil off of every single actor and their interactions with each other. Five of six movies together has made this cast the family they claim to be. Am I saying they are great actors? No. What I am saying is they play well off of each other and have a natural comfort and charm that carries through the screen effortlessly.

Despite all this excellence, the director needs to move on. Four movies and he’s starting to lose some of the cinematic vision that made the others so watchable. A Bay-esque rotating cam during a romantic moment was nearly nauseating at times. combined with a series of quick cuts you were wrenched from a moment that was reminiscent of Mel Gibson and Rene Russo’s seduction scene from Lethal Weapon 3. Sadly, and I don’t know if this is the director, the Director of photography or cinematographers fault, but the shaky cam has made its way into the film. Its not as bad as it could have been (I am looking at you Paul “Bourne” Greengrass) but it’s a noticeable and unfortunate change.

Why so bad? So…imagine the awesomeness that is Michelle Rodriguez vs Gina Carrano? This should be the meanest, brutalist street fight we’ve seen in the films. It almost was, for what you could make out from it. Other sequences fell victim to this as they did to the quick cut and angles. This is the one flaw of the film. Ok there is also the minimum of 20 mile long runway….but…its an action sequence in a Fast film. I’ll forgive it.

TL;DR ?

If you like the franchise, see it.
If you are curious about any element – see it

Ah hell just see the thing. It is a fast and the furious movie so you get out of it only what you should expect. It’s not high cinema, but its 2 hours of raw entertainment and characters we’ve been watching for 12 years now ((seriously..12 ))

I think that youll feel successfully transported into the film.