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Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious

After the emotional seventh film I’ll admit I did not expect to see another Fast and Furious film, but I was actually happy I was wrong. I read an interview with Vin Diesel who said that Paul Walker (who died in a car accident halfway thru the production of seventh film) predicted that there would be at least an eighth film so The Fate of the Furious was for Paul; when I heard that my thoughts were “Ok that I can respect.” By coincidence when my family finished the seventh film, the trailer for this 2017 addition to the franchise dropped the next day. Like many others who watched the first trailer my reaction was (and this might be the most accurate and PG I can put it) “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!?!?!” If anyone had doubts about how the filmmakers and cast were going to attempt to top the previous film, it got wiped away within the first minute of the trailer; the movie itself maybe not as much, but it was still a great watch. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his wife Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) are living the life in Havana, Cuba (with the occasional race) when Dom is approached by a mystery woman. A short time later Dom and Letty are contacted by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) for a mission to steal an EMP device, reuniting them with Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). After the mission is complete Dom goes rogue and steals the EMP device for the mystery woman; making Hobbs crash his car where he gets arrested and taken to the same prison as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Dom’s family is angry and confused as to why Dom would betray them. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) along with his protégé Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood) who is called “Little Nobody” provides the team with the person who forced Dom to betray his family. The mystery woman is known as Cipher (Charlize Theron), a cyber terrorist who has been behind the scenes of the two previous films, including hiring Shaw’s brother Owen. The team, now including Shaw wanting revenge against Cipher, has to go against Dom and Cipher from stealing tech while the reason for Dom’s betrayal is revealed. Probably shouldn’t say anymore without spoiling the movie, but keep an eye out for old friends and Helen Mirren as well as a funny/weird scene with Statham (those who’ve seen the movie know EXACTLY I’m taking about.)

The trailer for The Fate of the Furious definitely set a bar for what many expected the movie to be. For me while I thought the film was pretty good it wasn’t as good as some of the other additions of the franchise; if I were to rank it might be in the middle. The cast was as good as they’ve been in previous films, if I may say this might be Diesel’s second best performance of the franchise (the seventh being his best in my opinion). Scott Eastwood is definitely a great new addition to the franchise; not only handsome but an interesting character. However I have to give two big shout-outs to (hopefully) two other new members of the Fast films. Helen Mirren (who went uncredited for her part) is a fantastic actress and I really hope she continues with the next film at least. Last but not least, Charlize Theron (another very talented actress) has been the best villain in the Fast franchise so far. Cipher doesn’t care what or who gets in her way she’ll either blackmail or blow you out of it; she can hack into cars and make them drive right into danger and someone might be in the car! I really hope Cipher continues at least into the next movie.

The action for the movie was downright terrifying. Everything for the beginning heist including the wrecking ball blowing into the bad guys, the car chase involving Cipher hacking and driving thousands of cars (regardless of the people in them) remotely to the climatic ice terrain as the end of the film involving a submarine had me on the edge of my seat and my jaw on the floor; in other words like the other Fast films just throw logic out the window. The writing and story itself are not as good as some of the previous films, but we did get the surprise of why Dom betrayed his family; I actually did not see it coming. I definitely enjoyed The Fate of the Furious and I am excited for the next two (three if you count the spin-off with Hobbs and Shaw) Fast films.

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Movie Review: Furious 7

This 2015 addition might arguably be the best known Fast and Furious film for those who are not familiar with the franchise, and it was for a very sad reason. On November 30, 2013, Paul Walker died in a single car accident while the film was halfway through production. The cast and fans were devastated by his loss and the production was put on an indefinite hold. With the studio and the cast behind it the seventh film proceeded on in Walker’s memory. In my opinion it has definitely been the most heartfelt Fast film to date, and I do not believe it will be topped. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has been trying to help his long-time love Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) regain her memories after the events of the previous film, but it has been difficult for her. While helping out his once again pregnant sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), friend Brian (Walker with stand-ins including brothers Caleb and Cody Walker after Paul’s death) and nephew Jack, Dom receives a phone-call from a man threatening his family before a bomb sent from Tokyo destroys the Toretto house. Discovering Han (Sung Kang) is dead and DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is in the hospital after a severe beating Dom gets the crew back together: Brian, Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) to go after the man revealed to be Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who has sworn revenge for putting him in a coma. Dom and his crew are ready to fight off Shaw, but they need to do something first for a special ops unit. Headed by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) Dom and his crew agree to help the government obtain a computer program called God’s Eye (basically Big Brother) as well as the person behind it, a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). However the mercenary that has her, Mose Jakanda (Djimon Hounsou) is not going to let her or God’s Eye go without a fight. With Deckard following close behind Dom and his crew are on their most dangerous adventure yet, which also includes an amazing fight between Letty and an Abu Dhabi security guard named Kara (Ronda Rousey). I cannot go more without spoiling the rest of the movie, but I promise this: there will not be a dry eye in the house the last few moments of the movies it pays tributes to Paul Walker.

I think the film was anticipated by many Fast and non-Fast fans because of how they were going to retire Walker’s character, and I thought how it happened was absolutely perfect; I can promise looking around the the theater people were crying from little tears to full blow sobbing. The movie itself could not have been better: the writing, action and characters were at their highest peak. The stunts done by either the cast or the cars were just mind boggling; in other words probably more than any other Fast film throw logic out the window (a car drives thru three buildings for crying out loud!) Jason Statham was perfect as Deckard Shaw; easily topping his brother in the previous film as the best bad guy in the Fast franchise until recently but that is for another day. I think this might be my favorite of the Fast franchise so far if anything for what the filmmakers and cast did for Paul Walker’s character and the actor himself. I might even call this film the must-see movie of the entire Fast franchise. While obviously you should watch at least five and six before this one Furious 7 will leave any action fan happy and anyone with a heart swelling with a smidgen of happy and sad. One last thing, do not forget to watch I Am Paul Walker on the Paramount Network airing tonight.

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Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

For those that stayed until the end of the previous film they were not shocked to see how the next Fast film, released in 2013, continued. For those that had no clue they were surprised by a ghost from the teams past and another exciting adventure. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

After their successful heist in the previous film Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew have gone their separate ways as they avoid the police. Dom lives with Elena (Elsa Pataky), Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) have a son named Jack, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) are enjoying their wealth while Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) are still living together. Their lives of luxury soon come to an end when DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) finds Dom; however instead of arresting Dom Hobbs has come with a deal. Special ops soldier and former British SAS major Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) has been stealing tech needed to build a device worth millions on the black market and Hobbs, along with his partner Riley Hicks (Gina Carano) have had trouble capturing him. Dom is not interested, until Hobbs shows him a picture of someone helping out Shaw: the not so dead Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). Dom and his crew come together to help Hobbs, in exchange for amnesty to their past crimes. In London Dom finds Letty who shoots him on site, it is later revealed that Letty did survive her car accident in the fourth film, but is suffering from amnesia. Determined to save the woman he loves Dom and his crew team up with their one time foe Hobbs to stop Shaw. I probably shouldn’t go further without spoiling the movie (stay until the very end to get the answer many waited for since the third film) but the highlights of the movie can be described in three t’s: Tragedy, Traitor and Tank!

The bar for the Fast franchise had been set a little high after the fifth film and while I don’t think the sixth addition reached as high as it should have been it got close. The action took a big step up with the cars, especially during the climatic car chase involving the tank as Shaw basically did not care who he ran over; my jaw was on the floor the entire time the tank was on-screen. I have yet to check it, but it would not surprise me if the body count in this film was the highest in the entire franchise. The story I thought was pretty good and the entire cast did a fantastic job in their respective roles. It was great to see Rodriguez return to her role as Letty, I know many fans of the movies were irritated by her amnesia storyline but thankfully they did not have to suffer for long. If I have to be honest the stand out for me was Luke Evans. He was perfect as Owen Shaw; I actually thought for some time he was the best bad guy in the Fast franchise until he was topped in the next film but that is for another day. I definitely think if you liked the previous Fast films, particularly the fifth, Fast & Furious 6 will definitely keep any action fan on the edge of their seat.

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Movie Review: Fast Five

If anyone thought Fast and Furious was dead after the fourth film they were very much mistaken. This film released in 2011 not only revived the franchise; it completely changed the entire movies going forward. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is set to be transported to prison after the events of the previous film; however he is broken out by his friend Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and his sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). The trio manages to evade authorities and head to Rio de Janeiro. Reuniting with their old friend Vince (Matt Schulze) they get caught up in the activities of crime lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Discovering a computer chip containing Reyes criminal finances (about $100 million in cash) Dom, Brian, Mia (who is pregnant with Brian’s child) recruit Vince, Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot) who develops a relationship with Han, Leo (Tego Calderón) and Santos (Don Omar) into stealing the money. While they plan Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arrives in Rio determined to bring in Dom and his family; recruiting Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) a local police officer who Dom becomes attracted too. However when Hobbs catches up with Dom at the same time as Reyes’s men and gunfire breaks out the heist soon becomes very personal for all involved. I probably shouldn’t say anymore, but watch the film until the end for a surprise.

Returning to the original roots of being a heist film is one of the reasons I think Fast Five is one of the better films in the franchise. That is what drew people in the films in the first place: incredible action and watching the “bad guys” get away with a nearly impossible crime with police following. Watching how Dom and his crew pulling off the heist (specifically pulling out the gigantic safe) is thrilling to watch. Diesel, Walker, Brewster, Gibson, Bridges, Kang, Gadot, Schulze, Calderón and Omar shined once again as their respective characters, Almeida was a pretty good bad guy, and Pataky was a great addition as Elena. However I think Fast fans are in agreement when I say adding in Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs was the best thing the franchise could have done. While he was already a huge star Johnson’s acting ability really improved with these movies. The writing was much better in this film compared to the last two, the action stepped up, the cars were gorgeous, the characters become more developed; overall Fast Five for the longest time was considered to be the best Fast yet (it might still be in some people’s minds.) I definitely think if you have watched the previous Fast films and think about giving it up do me a favor and watch this one; it might change your mind. Even if you are not a huge fan of these movies this one will get any action film fan excited; it might even make someone a fan of the franchise.

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Movie Review: Fast & Furious

Out of the entire Fast franchise so far many fans have said that this is the weakest one yet. While I do agree that the fourth installment is not the best it does have its moments. Fast & Furious, more commonly known as Fast and Furious Four, also establishes events prior to Tokyo Drift and future films with the characters fans have come to know and love. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Set five years after the first film Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have been hijacking fuel tankers in the Dominican Republic, along with a new crew including Han (Sung Kang), Tego (Tego Calderón) and Santos (Don Omar). However when police start closing in the crew is forced to split up; despite promising to ride or die together Dom leaves Letty in order to protect her. Months later Dom receives a call from his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) that Letty has been murdered. Dom discovers evidence leading to Letty’s killer which reunites him and Mia with their old friend, and FBI agent, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). Brian has been tracking down drug lord Arturo Braga who has been trafficking drugs from Mexico into the United States, while Dom knows Braga and his henchman Fenix (Laz Alonso) are responsible for Letty’s death; forcing the two to team up once again to take down Braga along with Mia (who rekindles her relationship with Brian) and Brago’s liaison Gisele (Gal Gadot) after Dom saves her life. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

As stated previously many fans would agree that this is the weakest Fast film to date and they are right. While the chemistry between the original characters (Dom, Brian, Letty and Mia) are still there, the addition of Gisele brought in a few more guys to the movie, and the racing/car chase scene were not bad (the one at the end of the film in the tunnels I thought was pretty good) it could not save the story. It was basically a heist movie involving heroin and fast cars; while they tried to incorporate Letty’s death into it future films kinda made it useless. If you want to watch the film you can; it does explain just a little bit of what is happening at the beginning of the fifth film. Otherwise I’d skip it.

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Movie Review: The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

Many fans of the Fast films are often split with this third edition of the franchise. Released in 2006 Tokyo Drift is either loved by the fans or absolutely hated; many might even call it the black sheep of the Fast movies. It is also the one that often leaves those maybe not familiar with the franchise confused. As this explains future events of the franchise a spoiler alert is being issued. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

High school student Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) has once again been expelled from school for street racing. In order to keep him out of trouble Sean is sent to live with his estranged father Lt. Boswell (Brain Goodman) in Tokyo. Shortly after arriving Sean meets “Twinkie” (Shad Moss aka Bow Wow at the time) and is introduced to drift racing; meaning drivers over-steer while keeping control of the car. Sean soon gets into a conflict with Takashi (Brian Tee) the reigning and Yakuza connected Drift King (or DK for short) after Sean flirts with Takashi’s girlfriend Neela (Nathalie Kelley). Despite forbidden to race, Sean does, totaling the car after failing to drift. Takashi’s business partner Han (Sung Kang) sees something in Sean and takes him in; Sean works to repay the car he totaled as well as learning how to drift. Takashi is angered by this as well as how close Neela is getting to Sean and wants Sean gone. When a race ends in tragedy (Fast fans know what I’m talking about) Sean decides to confront Takashi once and for all. I probably shouldn’t say anymore, but keep an eye out at the end of the film for a cameo by the one and only Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel).

I am one of the Fast fans that is a little mixed about Tokyo Drift. I like the action and the cars, the chase scenes are very well shot, but the writing and acting is not really up to par of the other Fast films; the fact that only two of the main characters ever make appearances in the later films says something. I think Black, Moss and Kelley have gotten better at acting with their stints on their respective television shows (NCIS: New Orleans, CSI: Cyber and the rebooted Dynasty), but as for this film Black is the better actor. Diesel’s cameo at the end of the film helped connect it to the first two and set up the events for a future addition to the franchise. Tee was pretty good as the antagonist Takashi, but for me my favorite performance was Sung Kang as Han, and I would continue to be impressed over the next few films.

As I stated earlier this is the film as you try to explain to non-Fast fans they might look at you like you are crazy. This is because while this was the third film released chronologically this is the sixth in the Fast and Furious films. Let me try and explain, the events of this movie take place after the sixth Fast and Furious film, and a little bit into the seventh; in other words the franchise goes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, then 7 onward. This is usually when I say you have to watch the films in order to understand why a character that died in Tokyo Drift is still seen over the next three films. Tokyo Drift is a good, not great, film in the Fast and Furious franchise and it has to been seen in order to understand the events leading up to the seventh film; I know many may not agree with me on this, but it does help.

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Movie Review: 2 Fast 2 Furious

When it comes to the Fast films this 2003 sequel, and the only one to not feature Vin Diesel, is often regarded as the most underrated out of the so far eight films. I will get more into that in my review a bit later on; in the meantime a spoiler alert is being issued. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

After letting Toretto get away in the previous film Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has been on the run from his former superiors. Brian makes a living off of illegal street races, usually organized by his friend Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges). During one race Brian gets captured by FBI agents, after being recognized by U.S customs officer Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes). However Brian is given the chance to be pardoned for his crimes if he helps the undercover Fuentes (whom he is attracted too and the feeling is mutual) take down Argentinian drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). Brian agrees but only if he picks a partner to help him maintain his cover. His pick, his old friend and sharp tongued Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) who is currently on house arrest. Roman blames Brian for his time in jail and refuses; until he gets the same offer as Brian. The two soon get in to Verone’s circle, but when the drug lord becomes suspicious and the FBI gets impatient Brian and Roman must come up with a plan to stop Verone from fleeing the country to avoid the charges against him.

As I stated earlier many fans of the franchise have stated that the first sequel to the Fast films is the most underrated. I might have to agree with the statement solely based on the performances of not only Paul Walker but of other actors the fans have come to know and love throughout the franchise; of course I’m talking about Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. The two of them have been comedy gold for the rest of the franchise; I know there have been rumors about Gibson’s future with the franchise but there hasn’t been any news as of this date so I hope it’s good news. I think Mendes is a pretty good actress and her chemistry with Walker was not bad, but his on-screen relationship with Jordana Brewster’s character throughout the franchise is much better. I think the action in the film is very good; particularly towards the end of the film with the decoy cars and the unrealistic car jump onto the boat (I know I have to suspend my disbelief with these movies but come on.) Overall I think if you liked the first Fast and Furious film and want to continue this sequel is worth continuing.