New Model, Original Parts
Fast & Furious (AKA Fast Four): The loveable gang of petrol-heads join forces with the CIA to take down a heroin importation Barron; who prefers car-based work – obviously! In what can only be described as ‘in Bond Style’ this one opens up with an extended mini mission that’s bigger, better, and cooler than anything else in the franchise to date, with the best big rig / freight truck stuntwork since Licence to Kill – the quality of action in general has been cranked up a few notches. The biggest change in the fourth FF outing is that this is far more accessible than previous movies because it shifts gears away from ‘street racing’ being the only focus of the movies – which was novel, but appeals to such a tiny percentage of the viewers. Instead this opts for a more standard crime / revenge thriller, albeit 4-wheel based. If you’re disappointed in the lack of complex plot and big acting in this, hand over your keys as you don’t deserve to be watching this. What I love most is how every occasion in the FF universe is a Corona occasion: the club, supper time, home surgery o’clock… always time for Mexico’s best-selling cool, fragrant, golden pilsner. Jesting aside, it’s like the stars have finally re-aligned, making Fast & Furious feel like a proper franchise film again, and a film that’s streets ahead of the previous two movies – aiming for the mainstream, Friday-night, popcorn-munching, populist target, and smashing it head-on.
The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Matador: a struggling salesman and troubled hitman meet in a bar… no it’s not a joke! First thing’s first, Brosnan absolutely owns this film as an alcoholic, borderline psychopathic, burn-out, jaded, lonely, vulgar assassin with homosexual undertones, including a wicked tache and fashion sense. He is nothing short of pure entertainment, with great comedy timing and black comedy vibe, effortlessly creating an unforgettable character. Greg Kinnear’s also rock solid, and plays the straight-laced guy perfectly – because there’s only two mains they’re both fleshed out well. There’s a great off-kilter tone throughout and it harks back to the classic screwballs – which keeps the film interesting. Visually, it’s delightful with lots of bright colours, tourist-friendly cinematography and some unique direction. There’s a few great songs masterfully inserted too. Of all the decent things that Broz has ever done, this is the one film that put him up for a Golden Globe – make sure you see why! Bottom line, it’s a well-made, very funny, black screwball comedy with two great characters at the centre.
Monsters: a photographer has to deliver his boss’s daughter from central America back home to the US border, only problem is that the north of Mexico is now an alien infected zone. Yet another solid entry into the more believable area of the Sci-Fi section – alongside the likes of Primer, Children of Men, 2001, Moon, District 9, Running Man… Monsters is guerilla film-making at its smartest; every shot is framed perfectly and CGI’s sparingly used as the most is made of real people / locations / disasters / wrecks. The focus isn’t on big effects, but the atmosphere, which is probably the biggest reason why you can buy into the film. While the story’s pretty thin and basic, the chemistry between the on (and off) screen couple also sucks you right into their world. In saying that, for being the crux of the film the relationship angle is straight off-the-shelf; some poor bloke’s fiance is doubting their marriage when she meets a far more interesting guy – wonder how that will it turn out?! Everyone’s been banging on about how good Monsters is for the budget, big woop, a load of low and micro budget films have done well. The real inspiration that Gareth Edwards wrote, directed, filmed, edited and SFX’d an international hit off his own back. While this isn’t quite the full polished package it shows a lot of promise for a first time director. Can’t wait to see what he can deliver when the studios start throwing serious money at him.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: a modern western that’s divided between the ways of the old Wild West and the attitudes towards immigration in present America. It’s an outstanding directorial debut by Tommy Lee Jones, who also put in a fine performance: this was probably the biggest factor for his casting in No Country For Old Men. Barry Pepper’s personal journey is also powerful and believable, shame he’s never grabbed a decent leading man part. Although it’s quite slow, the story is so simple and powerful that it draws you in completely, and as the film goes on it all comes together quite nicely. The scenery on offer is magnificent, taking you from a tiny town in West Texas over the border, deserts and down to a Mexican paradise. It’s also got some of the driest humour you’ll find, with the highlight being a corpse comedy side story – morbidly dark but bizarrely funny. Simple and well executed story but the no-frills approach won’t be for everyone.