Furious 7 (AKA Furious Seven, Fast Seven, Fast & Furious 7): when Owen Shaw is left comatosed after Fast & Furious 6, his bigger badder brother Deckard Shaw comes at the gang for revenge. The ‘China Film Corporation‘ influence strong and obvious: super-tech (drones), large-scale non-car CGI devastation, more gunplay, random Asian Megastar and even less believable action than before. The overall feel drifted into (new) Michael Bay territory, with explosion porn, leery bikini shots, and being a little bit overly stereotypical/racist with the CRAZYSHOUTYBLACKGUYS(!!). The road-based action there is remains intense, but rapid editing makes it difficult for the action to flow, and to follow what’s going on. That being said, it’s great to see a large action franchise still centered around Family, and showing strong women. The family is a great tool because, after 5 films (Toky Drift doesn’t count) with the team, you feel connected attached to them – and phrases like “Ride or Die”, or the ‘quarter mile at a time’ spiel get me pumped up every time. You didn’t see much of The Rock, but it’s OK because he finally Rock Bottom’d someone; Statham is on good form, albeit cruising; needed more of Tony Jaa as he only got a few minor stunts to shine with; and the Paul Walker send off was handled well. Fast 5 is still the height of the franchise, boasting better physical stunts and a more focused plot; although Furious 7 is entirely watchable and fun, this feels like it’s juggling too many spare parts, and could have shaved off 30 mins.
PREVOUS F&F REVIEWS
The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast & Furious
Fast 5 (Update) / Fast 5 (Original Review)
Fast & Furious 6
2 Fast 2 Furious: the LAPD finally catches up with the rogue detective from Fast and the Furious – and immediately put him on an identical car-based infiltration mission. So to keep it true to the first film there’s loads of amazing cars being trashed all over the shop, lots of cool ‘threading through traffic’ race scenes, and lots of close-ups of drivers shouting “AH HAAAA!” having just rammed / overtaken / out-driven someone. Again, some parts feel like techno music videos, other like they’re about to become 2-hot for TV spring-break videos. The story however feels quite vapid and familiar when held up against the first movie: very light on plot and dangerously close to ‘remake’ territory. There’s some bad ‘scarface’/’miami’ accents, and a couple of comically bad Bond-esque henchmen. Whereas the first film was more of a heist-thriller, this feels more like the overly-familiar cop/buddy films. There’s definitely a magic ingredient missing from the first film, perhaps it’s that without Vin Diesel ( who was doing xXx), this film feels like it’s running on an unleaded engine.
Caché (Hidden): a couple begin receiving video tapes of someone watching them and their home, but who are they from? It starts off fantastically with some phenomenal, haunting long takes that really let your mind run away with who, or what, has their eyes on the family. Unfortunately, the film only has one pace: crawl. Many more long shots, lingering cameras, and a lot of (mostly) banal scenes later, it finally lands at the infuriating, non-event, cop-out ending – not satisfying, and an epic disappointment given how much the movie asks of the viewer. Personally, I’d have liked to see the film slowly build up and gaining momentum through to a conclusion, but hey, what do I know? Towards the end, Auteuil was the only thing keeping me watching – he has a truly magnetic screen presence in almost every movie. It’s very middle-class; based on well-to-do characters in artsy/intellectual jobs and questionable parenting. On the whole, I’m a fan of Haneke’s work, and the social commentary that usually comes with it; unfortunately this is just a little dull, and doesn’t appear to have a whole lot to say. Despite being slow, vague and borderline tedious, Caché is not without some merits; the camerawork is great, and individual scenes are solid and terrifically staged / shot / acted. Divisive French anti-thriller.
The Social Network: Pretty much everyone with an internet connection has a Facebook page, so here’s the story of how the site came around. The film starts off at 100mph – setting the scene at Harvard; the socialites and outcasts – but it gradually slows to a crawl throughout the remainder of the film, as it gets bogged down with cross-examinations, lawyer oneupmanship, and fairly boring intellectual property debates – in this area, I’ll take The Good Wife any day. Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) is totally standout here, giving a great performance and setting pretty high expectations for anything else he’ll do. The Winkelvii were well-played and brilliantly done (one guy CGI’d). Eisenberg‘s good at walking the tightrope between likeable and loathable, and Timberlake is more of an effeminate pansy cameo than anything else. The scripts pretty tight and razor-sharp for such a wordy affair; there’s also a lot of really deadpan/witty humour throughout – more than the film’s been given credit for. There’s some pretty good moral undertones about power, money, popularity and the whole ‘social networking’ aspect being carved out and placed online. While it is well done, and it contains classic story elements like betrayal, pathos and all the things that should make a story good – the subject matter just isn’t as gripping a story like Zodiac – there’s only so much drama you can pump into the story of Harvard guys arguing over the theft of an idea. Good film, but doesn’t really grab you by the balls.
Borat: mockumentary following a Kazakhstan TV personality who’s sent to learn aspects of American culture to benefit his country, major hilarity ensues. After about 25 minutes I was thinking “Holy crap, this film’s heading for a score of 9!” however it drops the ball soon after and doesn’t really get going again. It was the first film I’d seen in a cinema where almost everyone laughed continuously for the entire duration – not just a few funnies or gross moments. On re-watching it at home it’s not quite as effective, but still very funny. Most gags are at someone’s expense and / or gross-outs – with a particularly disgusting and pointless naked fight at one point. Because there’s actors and some of the scenes were supposedly staged it’s hard not to dissect each scene, but doing so will ruin the enjoyment for you. The rough documentary style means that the majority of what made the final cut is funny, but doesn’t really have much flow or continuity. Is it the funniest film of the 2000s? Possibly: it’s definitely up there with Anchorman, Superbad, and Team America. Best enjoyed in a big group.