[REVIEW] ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ or Stupid Action is as Stupid Action Does…

There’s a scene in Furious 7 where Dwayne Johnson decides “Daddy’s got to go to work” and he muscles a cast off of his arm and what was once broken is ready to go. This scene is ridiculous. Of course, but it was also funny and cheeky without being annoying. It is scenes like these that made the Fast and the Furious movies work. I even own all 7 on bluray (the tire collection (ad)!).

If people ask me for advice I tell them to just watch 5-7 because I think that is the best trilogy of the series. 1-4 are watchable action flicks but nothing special. Then we got to 8 and the franchise started to lose me. Charlize Theron did not work for me as a villain and most of the action felt predictable, staged with no stakes. The only part I liked in Fast 8 was the scene with Jason Statham as Shaw dealing with a baby as he is escaping. That’s like the cast scene from 7. Action mixed with enough humor to make me smile.

Now we have F9 and the wheels have completely come off the franchise and it’s not even trying to ground the action in any kind of realism. Whether that is a good thing will be up for debate but in the opinion of this critic it made for a long 145 minutes. Also the action was shot and edited in such a choppy way that it started to make me nauseous. Practically every action scene involving the characters diving off a cliff with complete confidence they will be saved from the ravine below or pressing a button and magnets saving them. There’s no sense of risk, pain or strategy behind the action and even in something crazy like Mad Max Fury Road you need that or it’s bland. Honestly I think Superman is more nervous than these guys.

Also having your characters constantly point out the ridiculous nature of the scenes doesn’t help. Tyrese can say all he wants that ‘maybe we are invincible?’ but that doesn’t make the action any more interesting or the characters any more deep. I know you are just supposed to have dumb fun with this movie but again without any sense of risk or stakes for the characters it’s like watching a demo reel for a vfx company not an actual movie. Tyrese and Ludicrus also go into space which is just as ridiculous as you might expect but it’s not just a winking quick scene for fans. It’s a long sequence that gets more insane by the minute.

I am also well aware this franchise prides itself on being about family. I love family. I love movies about families. What I don’t like is Vin Diesel treating this material as if he is in a tragedy with his gravely voice scowling through the self-serious dialogue. I also don’t like John Cena being his estranged brother yelling every cliche from the villain handbook only waiting for his all-too easy but inevitable redemption. His plan could have killed millions of people (not too mention all the property destroyed along the way.). Anyone who is after our team of heroes makes stormtroopers look like good shots. You can’t save everything by just yelling family all the time. It’s bad, really bad.

They also spoil a popular character coming back to life in the trailer/poster and then jump over backwards to try and make it make sense but it doesn’t.

Some people will probably have fun with this movie. I think we all have our thresholds of stupidity and this one (and the last) certainly surpassed mine. If you enjoy it more power to you. I will put it with Transformers and other movies that report to be full of big fun but lack any real entertainment value. No thanks!

3 out of 10

PS. Charlize Theron should never use this hair stylist again…

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ [REVIEW]

The Fast & Furious franchise has always been hit and miss for me. They seem to vacillate between an overly serious police drama to insane stunts with people leap-frogging from one building to another in a car. I much prefer the latter.

The most recent entry Fate of the Furious was a disappointment with far too little fun and too many boring scenes of people staring at screens (my greatest action movie gripe!). Now we are getting the franchise’s first spin-off film with the unwieldy title Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. This is no doubt meant to perpetuate the franchise into new avenues but also allow feuding cast-members to make their movies in peace. So what’s the result of this new Jason Statham/The Rock vehicle? I’d say it is as unwieldy as its title but mostly a good silly time at the theater.


I’ll spare you much of a plot summary. Basically there’s a convoluted reason that Luke Hobbs (The Rock) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) have to work together to fight a mutanized Idris Elba and help Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) clear her name and save her life. Along the way we go to London, Moscow, and Samoa with over-the-top action and lots of witty banter between the charming cast. I was particularly impressed with Kirby who holds her own in both departments.

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The film does a great job surprising the audience in ways that really paid off and had me smiling (no spoilers from me!). I also liked there wasn’t much standing around staring at screens, which is very boring. For the most part it moved effortlessly from one action set piece to the next and that kept it fun.

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Unfortunately on the downside the movie is way too long at 136 minutes and especially the extended portion in Samoa wares out its welcome. There are some major exposition dumps and the attempts to become sentimental didn’t work. Even though I know appeals to family are part of this franchise the Samoan warrior scenes came off as patronizing rather than heart-warming.

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There’s some impressive sequences in Hobbs & Shaw but also some I have seen before in other movies and the special effects were hit and miss. Sometimes within the same action scene there would be edits that looked like a tv budget and then the next edit would be really impressive. For example, there were definite moments within a fighting sequence I could tell The Rock wasn’t in Samoa but in front of a green screen. It’s harder to have fun when these type of distractions take me out of the movie.

However, I still walked away from Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw with a smile on my face, having had a good time. It’s not going to change your life but if you are looking for a silly, over-the-top entertainment with very likable leads than there is more than enough to enjoy here.

6.5 out of 10

smile worthy

Fate of the Furious Review

In Furious 7 there is a scene where Hobbs announces he is leaving the hospital and he focuses on his broken arm until the cast falls off in pieces. There was never a moment that campy and fun in Fate of the Furious.

In Furious 7 there is a moment where we see Brian and he waves and drives into the distance. There was never a moment with such heart in Fate of the Furious.

You get the idea. This film was a significant step down from the previous 3 films.

It’s not like I am expecting Shakespeare in Fast and the Furious. I know it will be stupid stunts and lots of talk about family. My main problem with this movie is it wasn’t enough stupid stunts or talking about family.

The first big mistake they make is splitting off Dom from the family. He is manipulated by Charlize Theron’s character and it did not work having Dom as this quasi-villain for most of the film. Dom is the core of the team. He brings everyone together and reminds them of what is important. Without him I didn’t care as much about the characters. And I thought Charlize Theron was a complete miss as a villain- extremely flat and boring.

The second big mistake is way too much talking and staring at screens. There were so many scenes of characters scheming and planning and staring at screens. I have no idea why action movies think this is a good idea. We saw it last year with Jason Bourne which was even worse. In a Mission Impossible movie or good James Bond we don’t see him staring at screens talking about hacking and plans for long stretches. We seem very little planning and lots of butt kicking. That’s what we want!

One of the big action scenes is mostly people staring at screens because it involves unmanned cars. At one point it is literally raining cars, which with no people is  boring. I honestly got kind of drowsy during sections of this movie- something I never thought I would say about a Fast and Furious movie. Even Tokyo Drift wasn’t exactly boring.

The ending starts to get wacky and fun with them chasing a submarine but it wasn’t as enjoyable as it would have been if the entire movie had been that kinetic fun tone. Instead, it felt like a reminder of the kind of movie I wish I had gotten all along.

My favorite scene in the movie was when Jason Statham’s character has to protect a baby. This was funny and tense, which is just what I want from this franchise. He also has some funny dialogue with Helen Mirren (who is underused but funny in few scenes she’s in).

In the future it seems like we may want to get back to the drawing board of what made 5, 6 and 7 so much fun. This entry unfortunately wasn’t.

Overall Grade- C-

Furious 7 Review

furious 7When I tell you that Furious 7 is one of the most ridiculous movies I’ve ever seen I mean it.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is completely absurd.  So let me try to explain why it might be worth your seeing…

First of all, there is a friend of the blog who I had a recent discussion with about Guardians of the Galaxy being a ‘turn off your brain popcorn movie’.  I disagreed with that conclusion; however, my friend Guardians should win a Pulitzer prize compared to this nonsense.  I guarantee you will not like Furious 7. It is not the movie for you.

I kept trying to decide why such insanity is better than the explosions and over the top antics of a Michael Bay movie.  Why are his films so nauseating but something like this still feels fun?  I honestly don’t know if I can explain it.  If any of you have insight I’d love to hear it.  The best I can determine is Michael Bay movies attempt at humor distances the audience from the characters and then he tries too hard to create a reverence around characters instead of just being an over the top action film.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was probably the best he’s done (I know not technically directed by Bay but having his stamp) in a long time.  The problem with turtles is it was edited so poorly I had no idea who they were fighting and where they were so it was just confusing when it should have been fun.  The villain was also muddled and confusing when it should have been awesome Shredder.


Furious 7 has over the top set pieces but I always knew who they were fighting, who the bad guy was and what they were after.  It isn’t as coherent and exciting as 5 and 6 which were basically heist pictures but it ups the anty on the insanity.  Plus, the actors sell the crazy scenes in a way that Bay’s films never do.  It feels like they are having a blast

Anyway, the plot to Furious 7 (not that it matters) is Owen Shaw’s brother played by Jason Statham is out to get revenge for his brother.  He attacks Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs and they fight (The Rock against Statham not much of a fair fight but it works).  Statham ends up getting information about where the team are and how he can hurt them.

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Then Kurt Russel’s Mr Nobody makes a deal with Dom, Brian and the team if they get a macguffin known as the God’s Eye away from terrorists played by Djimon Hounsou he will help them deal with Shaw.  The rest of the movie ends up being a search for the hacker who created God’s Eye and then all over the world to find the actual device.

furious 7-6I wish that the trailer didn’t spoil a couple of the over the top scenes.  It would be more fun for the audience if they didn’t know a car was going to jump from one skyscraper to another but when it is actually happening my theater was laughing and I don’t think that is a bad thing.  It’s so over the top they are asking for that kind of response.  Plus, the actors play it like it is no big deal. There is no Kate Capshaw type character screaming at all the antics . They are all tough guys and girls with tough guy one liners that made me laugh every time.

furious 7-5Maybe it helps I went into this with extremely low expectations, just wanting to be entertained and I was.  As far as flaws it’s a little too long.  By the end I was starting to grow less amused with the antics.  The quick cuts and shaky cam in some of the fight scenes is a little nauseating and got old and some of them go on a little bit too long. They also don’t use The Rock very much.  He’s in the movie for about 15 minutes which seems like a shame with his charisma.  Although when he rips his own cast off and says something like ‘it’s go time…’ I was on the floor laughing.  Still, he could have been used more.   They also love the booty shots of the women which got a little old after a while but at least the women actually did something unlike a Michael Bay movie where they are only gratuitous eye candy.

They did a flawless job dealing with the death of Paul Walker.  Evidently some of him was added in CGI, some was using past movies, film he had shot and his brothers standing in.  I certainly couldn’t tell.  It all looked like him from beginning to end to me.  They also have a lovely tribute to him and a very nice sign off.

With certain movies you have to look at what it is trying to do and then ask ‘did it do it well?’.  With Furious 7 they were trying to make an over the top action film and they do a great job with it.  I’m normally not a big fan of those type of movies but I was entertained by it.  I had a good time.  Take that for what you will.  It’s kind of a hard movie to give a grade too because its so absurd but entertaining.

I will go with…

Overall Grade- B-

Content Grade- C for violence, fighting and gratuitous booty shots.

My youtube review.  If you could watch it and give it a thumbs up that would be amazing.