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Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey

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.

Score: 6.5/10

 

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Ronda RouseyVin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Ronda RouseyPREVOUS 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

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey

Brick Mansions 3 Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis, Robert Maillet, Carlo Rota, Kwasi Songui, Ayisha Issa, Richard Zeman, Bruce Ramsay

Brick Mansions: a cop must team up with a convicted cop killer to take down Detroit’s most vicious drug dealer, who’s holding the city ransom with a nuclear bomb. The biggest thing that this has going for it is action; lots and lots of action. David Belle action is always a treat to watch, and his stunts are all to a high standard. David Belle’s dubbed face on the other hand isn’t as fun to watch, if anything, a little distracting, and it’s not just the syncing, but the ultra low gruff effects that make him sound like Vin Diesel. Paul Walker doesn’t lag too far behind Belle in the action stakes, which is surprising. With 90 minutes of sweet action, a ticking clock scenario, lame-ish acting and a basic, predictable story – it’s essentially a flashy B movie. Then there’s a massive elephant in the room though; the originals – which, if you’ve seen them, completely take the wind out of Brick Mansion’s sails as large sections are literally scene for scene, jump for jump, punch for punch re-shoots – with a bigger budget. Add to the fact thar this that 10 years on, Parkour is not as cool or fresh, and that the crucial social commentary (and plot in general) feels like more of an afterthought in this one – it lets the film down. If you have no interest in foreign films, this is as solid a B movie action film as they get, but if you’re feeling adventurous I’d absolutely recommend D13 and D13 Ultimatum over this.

Score: 6/10

Brick Mansions Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis, Robert Maillet, Carlo Rota, Kwasi Songui, Ayisha Issa, Richard Zeman, Bruce Ramsay Brick Mansions 2 Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis, Robert Maillet, Carlo Rota, Kwasi Songui, Ayisha Issa, Richard Zeman, Bruce Ramsay

Fast and Furious 6 Poster, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot, Joe Taslim, Rita Ora,Fast & Furious 6 (Fast Six, Furious Six, Fast 6 etc) [Mild Spoilers]: the gang reunite with federal agent Hobbs to track down a dangerous group of car-based (duh!) paramilitaries; but when a ghost from the past re-appears, it gets personal. The film feels a little action-lite to begin with, as the first-half re-introduces all of the characters, sets up their backgrounds, and shows us the evil crew’s work – for one of the rare times in the franchise, it cops-out of showing a perfectly good action sequence, instead giving us the charred aftermath. The second half however has some of the most outrageously and unsympathetically over-the-top action set-pieces in the history of cinema: the tank chase that culminates in Vin Diesel actually flying; the subway fights that push the human body to the absolute limits; and the finale that that seems to take place on the longest runway in the world… all crazy-good, but ensure that your disbelief is left fully suspended. What’s disappointing is that despite pushing stuntwork and physical/real effects as far as the movies have, the script is still so hackneyed, and the over-emphasis on drama / family / plot is poorly judged – it’s obvious by now that nobody in the cast is cut out for ‘proper’ acting. Also, considering the whole 4th film was about the death of Letty, it’s absolutely ridiculous to have her just get written back in as an amnesic. Being part-set in London, I was loving the bawdy accents, Cockney stereotypes, scenic shots, red busses and general English shenanigans. Fast Six is a great action film – it was however the first time that the action went from flat-out cool, in to silly territory, with people in the crowd LOLing at a couple of moments. Overall, the movies have slowly transformed from niche, nut-and-bolt level car-porn films through to top-tier summer action blockbusters – quite the achievement given the origins and cast!

Score: 7.5/10

Fast Furious 6 Jump Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot, Joe Taslim, Rita Ora

The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast & Furious
Fast Five (New Review) / Fast Five (Old Review)

FAST FURIOUS GEARBOX

How many times can you downshift in a race?!?!?!?!

Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 01Fast and the Furious 5: Rio Heist: Initial stand-alone review here – only difference is that this paragraph holds Fast Five in the context of the box-set, and now knowing what happened in the previous movies. The Blu Ray ‘Extended Cut’ is hardly worth it, with just over an added minute’s runtime, only a rapid neck-snapping that felt new. The action scenes are absolutely outstanding: the train heist, safe chase, rooftop / favella footchase, convoy ambush – it’s all seat-grabbing, fist-pumping, adrenaline-rushing, and cooler-than-cool. It feels like an 80s throwback genre film with such big-budget action, the archetypal super-bad mega-villain, and more oiled-up machismo than you could shake a packet of beer soaked beef jerky at – with guys continually in-fighting, shouting and flexing their rippling muscles at any opportunity. That moment when the two action stars fight, and later when Vin picks up The Rock… it’s just action-movie gold! I really enjoyed Fast Five in the cinema, but having seen all of the films recently, I have to give an extra point to the such fantastically executed car-based mayhem.

Score: 8/10

Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 03The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast & Furious
Fast Five (Old review)

Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 02

Fast & Furious Vin Diesel, Dominic Toretto, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodríguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Sung Kang, Tego Calderón, Don Omar, Mirtha Michelle

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.

Score: 6.5/10

Fast Four Vin Diesel, Dominic Toretto, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodríguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Sung Kang, Tego Calderón, Don Omar, Mirtha MichelleThe Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

2 Fast 2 Furious two Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aok, Amaury Nolasco

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.

Score: 3/10

2 Fast 2 Furious two 2 Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aok, Amaury Nolasco

The Fast and the Furious Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Vyto Ruginis, Thom Barry, Stanton Rutledge, Noel Gugliemi

“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time…Nothings else matters, not the store, not the mortage, not the garage, not my friends or any of their bullshit. For those 10 seconds or less, I’m free.”

The Fast and the Furious: an undercover cop infiltrates an LA street racing scene in the hopes of busting a ring of hijackers with crazy-good driving skills. So it’s not the most ambitious, smartest, or brilliant piece of film-making, but ‘TFATF’ does what it does really well. It’s brimming with bicep-bulging machismo, dangerously-torqued grotesque muscle cars, nearly-nude dance / club girls, thick green wedges of dead presidents and general glorification of the thug life… There’s a pretty cool soundtrack (for the time), but it’s a little dated now – although dance/trance/rave pounding through entire scenes makes it feel like an arcade game. The characters are all fairly stereotypical, the script’s as cheesy as they come, but these are cancelled out by some decent action set-pieces, some serious stunt-driving, and what’s essentially a ton of car-porn. My biggest gripe is that it feels far too derivative of previous undercover action films like Point Break and No Man’s Land. It’s easy to sneer at a film this dumb, but you’ve got to admire how a bunch of car fanatics could get together and turn out a film with a decent story, awesome cars, great stunts and above all – keep it broad and entertaining.

Score: 6.5/10

The fast and the Furious II Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Vyto Ruginis, Thom Barry, Stanton Rutledge, Noel Gugliemi

Fast and the Furious 5: Rio Heist – Various characters from the past four films unite for one big job in Rio. Being brutally honest, I’ve never bothered with this series as it’s just not my thing… That being said, the films are brutally honest and up front; Fast cars, Furious stunts. The action in this is 100% gravity and logic-defying nonsense but the last, huge, set-piece is worth the ticket price alone – it’s absolutely stupendous and wouldn’t surprise me if it had swallowed over 50% of the total budget. Character-wise, there’s a troupe of broad catch-all societal stereotypes, headed by the mumbling charisma vacuum Vin Diesel and a bread-and-butter Rock performance – nobody else is noteworthy. The story is bog standard and merely a vehicle to set up the next action scene; the Rio setting was ridiculous as it could have been anywhere; and the post-script was groan-inducing. Doing what it says on the tin, Fast Five is nothing more than cars, babes and stunts so ridiculous that it’s impossible to not enjoy or appreciate. Guilty pleasure of the year so far.

Score: 7/10