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Film Review: The Fate of the Furious

“Our Paths Have Crossed Before, Dom. You Just Didn’t Know It. I Think I Need To Remind You Why You Chose To Be Here…”

Franchises, franchises everywhere. Whilst the unexpected is utterly unreliable when it comes to the release of particular films in the current cinematic tidal wave, it does seem that the golden dollar bill sign is precedent as the leading force in the development of modern cinematic treats, evidenced by the return of the ridiculously indestructible Fast and Furious series in the form of The Fate of the Furious, a continuation of the franchise two years on from the previous instalment which managed to take an eye-whooping 1.5 billion dollars at the global box office. Whilst the mountain of eye-rolling snobs sniff at the sight of yet another jumped-up, adrenaline-heavy fluff piece, myself included, there is to some degree a sense of enjoyment watching a series continuing to live on despite stretching out what is a basic plot thread throughout eight films, due primarily to a overly ripe cast which all seem to have bundles of laughs causing endless waves of destruction and chaos with a seemingly blank cheque book at their disposal. As for the franchises latest offering, The Fate of the Furious is a surprisingly dull affair, offering very little originality amongst a tonally bipolar and utterly stupid narrative which aside from a few, minor elements could be regarded as the worst the series has had to offer so far.

Of the good things within Furious 8, Jason Statham absolutely steals every single scene in which he is present, from scenes consisting of a constant battle of words between himself and Dwayne Johnson to a final act in which he massacres a variety of killers whilst attempting to save the life of a incredibly important minor, all the while aboard a seemingly untraceable aircraft, one which is operated by Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a character which unfortunately offers no sense of threat whatsoever despite her attempts to come across all edgy and unhinged by wearing Metallica tees and moulding her hair on the likes of Bob Marley and Gary Oldman’s character in True Romance. The absolute absence of threat is fundamental to the film’s overall flaws, with each of the characters acting and performing in such a superhuman manner that the risk of injury or even death is so minimal that at times the film seemed to sink to the level of the worst the Roger Moore era Bond films had to offer, whilst the truly awful CGI comes across as so lazy and haphazard, particularly when considering the array of practical-based action we have witnessed recently within good examples of the genre such as The Raid and Mad Max: Fury Road. If The Fate of the Furious is indeed the future of the franchise, perhaps it’s time to hang up the cape, but with astronomical ticket sales inevitable, the likelihood of such is as solid as Vin Diesel becoming the next US President. Well, to be fair, that wouldn’t be the worst option right now.

Overall Score: 4/10

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Film Review: Mechanic: Resurrection

“You Have 36 Hours…”

Who doesn’t love The Stath? An actor who knows his strengths as well as his limits and makes the big bucks by doing what he does best year in, year out; meaty action movies. Although the 2011 version of The Mechanic was a reboot/remake/re-imagining of 1972 Charles Bronson thriller itself, its’ relative success didn’t exactly warrant that of a sequel in any shape or form yet here we are, with Mechanic: Resurrection being an A-Z in the blueprint of Jason Statham movies; little plot yet a hell lot of action. Supported by a rather starry cast with Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh and Tommy Lee Jones all fighting for screen time, Mechanic Resurrection is pretty much everything you would expect from an end of summer action flick starring The Stath, with Resurrection going in one ear and heading swiftly out the other without preaching anything other than adrenaline-fuelled mayhem.

Where the first Mechanic attempted to delve a bit deeper into the ambiguous livelihood of Jason Statham’s Arthur Bishop, the titular “Mechanic”, a hired gun who articulately kills people in ways that makes their deaths appear like accidents, Resurrection simply wants to kill as many people as possible, dropping in the idea of a plot as background for Bishop to shoot, punch, stab, blow up and eradicate as many hired goons as possible without ever leaving a scratch on his silky bald head. Although strictly not a comedy, the sight of endless waves of bodyguards being swiftly culled in the most violent ways possible did manage to produce a few fits of laughter, and although the film is incredibly violent, it never stops long enough to dwell on such as well as not having the chance to be regarded as lazy and offensive as something such as London Has Fallen. Yes, both films are ridiculously stupid and so lacking in plot it would make first year media students cry in fear, the truth is Resurrection is just plain dumb fun, something of which we can all do with sometime.

Overall Score: 5/10

Duo Review – Fast and Furious 7 – Too fast?

Pete Fast and Furious movies are one that hold a spot in my heart. It was always fun and entertaining and I’m sure a lot of people agree with me. With the unfortunate death of Paul Walker, development of the film was halted and many presumed the end of an era for the Fast crew. However, with some movie magic, they brought Walker back for one last time. Was it worth it? From a monetary aspect, I’m sure they will do just fine. For me, I’m on the fence. I enjoyed the movie but I spent most of my time picking up on stupid little things.

With the movie franchise moving towards a more realistic approach from cars with 18 gears and an engine to rival a 747, I expected a little more common sense in this instalment. Dropping out of a plane in cars happened, it was tested in WW2, slamming your parachute on while at terminal velocity was not. Its moments like these that can be extreme fun if done correctly, but with it being the majority of the release trailers, it lost that charm in minutes. There are many of these moments that are so incredibly stupid and over done to the point of exhaustion. Hit in the head with a wrench? Get up. Have 30 tonnes of concrete dropped onto the lower half of your body? walk into prison and this sort of whacked out shit goes on and on and on.

So avoiding the blatant WTF’s and moving onto the ‘story’. Once again, we follow Toretto and the gang who have pissed of Owen Shaw’s big brother. He gets angry and is on a man hunt to kill them. Toretto crosses path with some CIA black ops guy to find hacking software that can monitor everyone in the world and give their location for man-hunts. Save the hacker, use the tool. Simple but surprisingly good for a franchise known for its corny one-liners and story. It went in a direction that we couldn’t have expected and for once, had a mix of actual enemies rather than The Rock and drug pedallers.

Fast 7 was shot beautifully and often you couldn’t tell the difference between the CGI versions of Walker although the rest of the CGI looked ripped from the latest top of the line show coming from Syfy. I’d say it was a fitting tribute for him. I’m still trying to come to terms with why the child threw out a Red Porsche toy car. Was it simply coincidence or a dig at the car?

The Fast franchise is always poorly acted and I’m almost sure Vin Diesel cannot whisper. Nothing new there then. So, what are you waiting for, get on down to your local, enjoy mindless entertainment with a half-decent story and help fund the next 18 movies in the franchise. My rating for Fast is 7.

Dan  Before entering viewing mode for the newest film in the overlong Furious franchise, I have always created a check list that gets mentally crossed off during the course of that particular offerings’ runtime, with Furious 7 being no exception. On that list includes, scenes of the camera focusing intensively on rather attractive women wearing barely anything at all. Check. Scenes of cars driving along long, open roads whilst “gangster rap music” plays over the top. Check. Scenes where the law of physics is completely disregarded whether by cars or just humans themselves. Check. You might get the idea that Furious 7 filled my mental check-list completely, yet surprisingly this did not prevent it from being actually quite fun and probably one of the best entries in the Furious series so far.

Firstly, the film is completely bonkers. It did a good job in reminding me how fun it is to cause absolute carnage on rampages on GTAV, with the latter stages of the film seemingly being just that, with unlimited amounts of collateral damage to buildings, cars, ambulances, civilians, drones, all being displayed on screen whilst simultaneously having the time to show The Raid style hand-to-hand fights, and a battle sequence taken straight out of Street Fighter. And I loved it. It has been a long time since a film has been so completely ludicrous that you forget the major plot holes and chances to say, “he wouldn’t survive that”, and just let it ride on, destroying completely everything in its’ path.

In terms of criticism, the film is way too long and easily could have removed the sequence in which the team head off to Abu Dhabi, which seemingly was only there to showcase the Lykan Hypersport, which in itself to be fair, kind of symbolises the entire film. It’s ridiculous (I mean you can get diamonds in the headlights), it’s unbelievably quick (240mph), but is also a wonder to behold. The film also concludes in a fitting tribute to the late Paul Walker, and I think I can say honestly say, who would have been thrilled with the finished product. Peace out. 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review – Wild Card

Punch Drunk Love

Much like Christmas, Halloween, and public disgust towards the headliners of Glastonbury, sub-par Jason Statham action movies are kind of expected now going into the new year, with The Mechanic, Parker, Homefront, and Hummingbird, all being released within the last four or so years, with each seemingly blending in to one another so much it would be hard to tell them apart. So now in 2015, we have Wild Card. based upon William Goldman’s novel Heat, with it being, much like it’s predecessors, instantly forgettable, with bog-standard action scenes, but for the most part enjoyable enough to withstand ones’ attention for the course of its’ run-time. Hit me.

Jason Statham plays Lee Christmas, no sorry, Chev Chelios, nope, still wrong film. That’s it, Nick Wild! He plays Nick Wild, a recovering gambling addict who sticks to his addiction by being chaperone to Las Vegas’s rich and famous by guiding them around the different casinos, bars, strip joints, whatever, until one day he receives a phone call from an acquaintance named Holly, who claims she had been raped and attacked the previous night by Peter Petrelli himself, Milo Ventimiglia’s character, Danny DeMarco. The film then decides to go a bit revenge drama, followed by Martin Scorsese’s Casino, and then into full Statham style action mode, whilst incorporating the much-loved need to hit everyone in the throat from Taken. In a nutshell, it’s a bit of a mess.

A mess it may be, but I can’t deny I didn’t enjoy it for the most part, particularly in scenes when Statham turns full ninja and takes out everyone in the room with a spork or something of similar strength. Like previous Statham efforts however, Wild Card is instantly forgettable and even worse, seems to act as an OTT advert for the “wonders of Las Vegas”. Still, we have Furious 7 to look forward to. Not.

Overall Score: 5/10

The Expendables 3 – Quicky Review – SPOILERS

The ExpendablesSo if you’re expecting a critical analysis of Expendables 3, I would recommend you close this window. Renowned for its historic cast of action/adventure actors and its excessive action, the series was always going to be a hit. Expendables 3 is no different, just a few new faces to spice it up a little. In all fairness, the series in general isn’t something you can look at and go, “These movies are solid pieces of theatre art”. It just doesn’t work that way. Not many action movies can really collect such praise from critics but draw a lot of support from fans for the real reason many people watch them. They’re fun. It’s the genre for the everyday man, not those who likeability sits firmly in the off position.

When we look at the Expendables, we see a big cast that has shifted fairly regularly over the series. This time around instead of having Bruce Willis playing Church, Harrison Ford took his place by killing Church off for good (Turns out Willis wanted £1million a day for filming). Of course we have the regular crew back but unfortunately, one of my favourites – Terry Crews – sat out for the majority of the film. Perhaps due to other commitments but at least we got to see him in action. Returning original Jet Li was also back in the fold and it was publicised heavily of his involvement but with only 5 minutes of actual screen time, I’m sad to say that it was a bit of a waste of time for him to have even turned up. Not entirely new and fresh, Arnie is back but this time he actually features throughout the movie getting his hands dirty and obviously we also have Wesley Snipes. Charged for Tax evasion, his return to the big screen ironically began in a train convoy returning to his black ops prison cell. With a little joke about his conviction thrown in, Snipes was an OG Expendable from the very beginning. After going a little mad for money, he got himself caught and went dark for 8 years. Once Barney Ross (Stallone) caught wind of his location, the plan was set into action and as you’ve probably seen in the trailers, he was busted out. With his help, the crew immediately go to a new destination to retrieve a bomb for the CIA. However, another OG Expendable by the name of Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) turns up even though Barney supposedly killed him many years back. Making a new name for himself and taking control of his own personal army, Stonebanks is now a billionaire weapons dealer who after finding out Barney was after him, sets out to cause him equal pain. Now you may be wondering who the new lot are and why they are even there. It turns out that after the encounter with Stonebanks, Barney retires the old group for their own safety in favour of a new crew who can hold their own but are a little messed up supplied by Kelsey Grammer. These include MMA’s Victor Ortiz & Ronda Rousey, actor and model Kellan Lutz and Glen Powell, joined in the final third by the not so fresh faced Atonio Banderas to take down Stonebanks for good. As ever, not everything goes to plan and the old crew jump back into the fray to help. Out of the new group, my least favourite is Kellan. When trying to act as this big hard man, he looks like he’s posing for a glamour shoot and it’s fairly off-putting. Not including the fact that his character is a dick and his acting is awful.The Expendables 3

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to what the movie is really about, the action. Its extremely fun and flows really well throughout. Enough explosions to give Michael Bay a hard-on the size of the Eiffel Tower, hand to hand combat with the experience of MMA fighters to really demonstrate how it’s actually done and general chaos and anarchy that they’ve always done so well. Obviously it wouldn’t be an action movie without a bit of a cheese fest and witty one liners and they kindly obliged with some hilariously funny quips from their previous roles or history. Although the acting is pretty awful, in the face of stunts and action scenes, many of the characters were very competent. Ronda sticks out the most to me. In the final action sequence, she has quite the scene which really displays her UFC prowess. Moves that were incredibly well choreographed with a blend of music and shifts between a few other characters did help to create atmosphere within in the building that was set to blow. The only iffy bit of action was between Barney and Stonebanks. The acting and script for the scene was frankly laughable.

So if you got this far, cheers. Many of you probably just want the basics and seeing that I’ve run out of steam, here it is. Poor acting, awesome cast of classics and newbies, hella fun and Michael Bay’s wet dream. Go watch it, have some fun and see the reason films exist. 6/10 for the outcome but that really shouldn’t count. PS – Have a creepy photo of Snipes down below…

The Expendables 1

Hummingbird / Redemption – Review -SPOILERS-

Hummingbird 1Redemption, also known as Hummingbird in the US and Crazy Joe in France, is the tale of a man on the run from military courts, who comes across a new opportunity to rebuild his life.

Hummingbird is a gritty, dark and well formed movie. Upon entering the theatre, it was very quiet with very little people in. This got me a little cautious of the advertisings reflection upon the movie – Has the trailer been so bad that no one wants to see if?, Why is there only one showing of this movie on its release day? All of that lark, but if you have had these sorts of thoughts, I highly recommend you go see it!

We open in Afganistan; viewing the area from a UAV air drones camera. Chaos on the ground, screen static and tensions rising between each comm message. Music builds gradually, then suddenly we hear the popping of a rifle, screams from the locals and the identification process. A sudden snap to black and a snappy return of visual movement, we are no in London. Radio chatter still continues as we scour London’s city scape. We’ve seen this sort of style before, a mix of shots from around the world, perhaps a few news stories too but this felt different. One, we end up in the UK. Two, there was a tugging feeling which caught your curiosity.

Then, dropped into a backstreet alley where some local thugs are kicking the homeless’ box shelters and threatening them for rent. A brawl breaks out with a seamlessly invisible man (who we all know to be Statham) who is beaten to the ground and runs for the roofs for safety and drops into an empty Hummingbird 2apartment. Now he uses this opportunity to reinvent himself. Involving himself with the Yakuza and a new love interest, Crazy Joe is forced to earn a living, fight PTSD and get the devout Christians love.
The development of the story falls into place quite easily but the twist on the generic disgraced soldier is what helps the story distinguish itself from the rest. A military man, killing militants with brutal means, runs from his military tribunal and ends on the streets for many years. Too come across a new start but tie loose ends before leaving is very different from the norm, especially with the ending which turns out to be a vital part in the plot.

In forms of cinematography, the movie was beautiful. With the perfect amount of lighting there was enough to compliment the gritty story with a variety of neon colours from rough clubs and the dark end of town. Angles and smooth camera movements that flow effortlessly with the focal points were unnoticeable, but also kept the focus on the mark. The framing was much the same. All of this mixed together turned a dingy alley into something far more menacing. Following this, you have the visuals. Special effects were good, apart from one incident at the end which was poorly edited and didn’t look right on the background.

HummingbirdThe characters and acting were good but some were a little too much. The main villain looked to be straight out of a Bond movie and his short time on screen didn’t really fill you with hatred for the character. Stathams performance was probably one of his best, not award winning but fairly believable and his fight scenes are executed in style and grace without being over the top *Cough* Transporter *Cough*. The rest of the cast were alright and didn’t push anything to far in your face with the short amount of time they had on screen.

It’s now 1:30AM and I think I should go to bed, so to end it, I shall call this movie a 7.5/10. It’s story is a generic revenge thriller but with little depth to everything else that happens during Crazy Joe’s reign and little exploratory investigations into the workings of his mind or the main villain. Plus, his almost instant rise into the Chinese Yakuza.

A must see for all Statham fans and a must see for pretty much everyone else whose up for a bit of action with gritty details.