Sunday, April 26, 2015

SNOWPIERCER and the Perils of Internet Hype

I do not own the above image.  Copyright The Weinstein Company.  All Rights Reserved.

            I sit here, 6 days from the American opening of THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.  Some of you who live overseas have already seen it and have thrown your two cents into the ring.  I also sit here less than 24 hours before my wife & I see EX MACHINA, a small science fiction film that has finally entered my neck of the woods after weeks of praise from those I admire, respect & follow for their knowledge of film.
            Most of the time, I take their (or your, if you are one of those people described above) advice when something comes along, sometimes under the radar, that blows your mind that you can’t stop talking about.  A review is sometimes not enough.  You take to Twitter to argue over every single element of said movie, all the while begging the general movie going public to see it instead of junk like 50 SHADES OF GREY.  But what happens when one of your own (and I use that term very, very loosely) sees one of these movies and just shrugs his shoulders at the supposed greatness.
            SNOWPIERCER is the English-language debut of acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, whose previous films have been completely overlooked by my eyes.  SNOWPIERCER follows the oppressed passengers of the titular train circumnavigating the globe after a failed attempt to stop global climate change turned Earth into a giant ball of ice.  One such passenger Curtis (Evans) leads a mutiny on the train that has been planned for some time.  Can they reach the front and stop the class war?
            Ultimately, I grew frustrated really quickly because the movie is nothing more than the hype surrounding it.  I’m not saying the movie is terrible or anything like that.  But where the movie loses me is the action/chase second act.  The entire middle hour of SNOWPIERCER is action scene upon action scene.  Each is unique and never duplicated.  They are shot decent enough but what purpose do they serve in the end?
            But where the hype destroyed the desired effect is in the social commentary.  Every single moment where someone isn’t getting stabbed there are elements of Atlas Shrugged all over the place.  I mean, they’re even on a freaking train.  And Tilda Swinton, let’s be honest, PLAYS AYN F*CKING RAND!  The look, the mannerisms, the condescending attitude.  We get it.  She is the devil incarnate!


            But worst of all, she doesn’t meet her end appropriately.  Ayn…I mean, Mason, meets her maker in the middle of the movie.  Yeah, just shot in the head after one of the many action sequences.  The villain from that point forward is just one of her unnamed minions with a gun.  Instead, our hero (yes, hero, singular) gets into a mano-a-mano with John Galt.  Fine, he’s the conductor/owner of the train Wilford.  It is Wilford (and Wilford alone) who delivers the third act stinger.  Sure, the mysterious Wilford was hyped as this God among men.  But for a majority of the movie, Curtis had this main villain to chase after then have her (him?) as a hostage.  The movie misses a perfect opportunity to have “Ayn Rand”, “John Galt” and our hero have one profound discussion in the front of the train about the past, present & future of the journey the human race is taking.  And I guess there’s my problem with the entire movie: the missed opportunities to expand on the social commentary and the emotional payoffs.  Curtis’ emotional monologue at the beginning of the third act doesn’t have the desired effect when so much time & action has occurred since the characters were killed off in one of the many action scenes. 


            On the surface, SNOWPIERCER is somewhat exciting at times & exquisitely shot.  Each action sequence is unique in its design & style.  The performances are top notch, especially Swinton, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary, she’s great in everything.  The entire story is set up almost perfectly.  It’s the execution that’s the problem.  I liked what I watched while watching, I just hated thinking about it after.
            Hype can lead a film to the promised land: the general movie-going public’s mind.  Whether it be in a theatre at a multiplex or in their own home, every great movie needs to be seen & available to everyone.  But hype has its downsides.  You just read one.  Sometimes, a movie, if not seen right away, can be destroyed by the hype machine, whether it be critically or commercially.  Film is fragile.  Film is special.  Let us not attach too much to a movie, lest it be too much for us to handle.  And that is why I don’t watch trailers or read reviews before seeing movies: Hype kills movies.


Thursday, April 16, 2015


            Is there a more telling sign of a mediocre movie than a weak main character?  Not just a weak main character, a meek main character.  A character so weak & meek that the character’s significant other has the big emotional scene, even if it is poorly written & makes little sense.  That movie is TRUE STORY.
I do not own the above image.  Copyright Plan B Productions & Fox Searchlight Pictures.  All Right Reserved.

            Michael Finkel (Hill) just got fired from The New York Times for bending the truth on a cover story.  He heads home to Montana where he lives with his girlfriend Jill (Jones), hoping to revive his career.  Eventually, a fellow journalist alerts him to suspected murderer Christian Longo (Franco), who hid in Mexico under his name.  After one face-to-face meeting, Finkel thinks he has his ticket back to relevancy.
            TRUE STORY is about as bland as its title.  The movie plays like a cheap version of CAPOTE.  You have the interactions between Finkel & Longo, where Franco outshines not only Hill but also the dialogue between them.  You get the sense Franco has Longo down to a tee: somewhat intelligent, manipulative with a sliver of implication that there is something hidden underneath.  It is just a shame that we get nowhere down that road.
            The deep psychological elements of the two leads are never explored in any meaningful way.  For instance, in the letter Longo sends Finkel, demonic drawings fill the opposite sides of many of the pages.  But the deepest into them we get is a single scene with Michael & Jill.  Even then, all Michael says is how odd it is that these drawings are similar to ones he saw in Africa.  Never is there a scene where Michael & Christian talk about it.  I understand that Finkel isn’t a psychiatrist but why even have that element in the movie if you are only going to wade into the kiddie pool instead of jumping off the diving board.
            And that’s not the only element of the movie like that.  For a long while, I thought Hill was miscast.  Eventually, I woke up to the fact that Michael Finkel the movie lead character is plain old poorly written.  (spoiler alert?)  There are scenes where he interacts with the lead prosecutor on the case.  For a while, he protects Longo like he is his client or patient instead of the criminal he is.  But once, Longo reveals he has been playing with Michael all along, Finkel runs to the prosecutor like an informant, hoping to stay relevant and save his work.  It is one thing for a character to assert himself in turning on someone close to him but Finkel is written more in a groveling tone than a cooperative one.  I half-expected Hill to be on his hands & knees, begging for forgiveness. (end spoiler alert)
            The best thing I can say about TRUE STORY is it kept my attention and the attention of the senior citizens in the audience.  This first feature by director/co-writer Rupert Goold trudges along like a made-for-TV crime movie that would have been on CBS on a random Saturday night in the summer of 1987.  Franco is serviceable but the rest does not live up to any major cinematic level.  Felicity Jones is given one scene to do anything of any consequence but the scene is absurd and adds nothing but further irritation.  Irritation that the movie half-assed a story that could have been a little intriguing.  We learn nothing of consequence about these characters, these murders or ourselves as a society.  There is no there there.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

9 Honest Questions I Have About FURIOUS 7

I do not own the above image.  Copyright Universal Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

What is the purpose of Djimon Hounsou?
            Hounsou, a two-time Academy Award winning actor who would act circles around the rest of the cast combined, plays Mose Jakande. He has no backstory.  He exists for the sole purpose of chasing the God’s Eye.  Mose supposedly teams up with Statham’s Deckard Shaw but only once are they possibly in the same room together.  Hounsou’s role is a thankless task that involves making faces & screaming commands at his nameless minions.  During the final action sequence, he’s in the passenger seat of a helicopter blown up by a backpack full of hand grenades.
Is there a term for a character who does nothing but chase the MacGuffin?  The FitzMacGuffin?  The Egg McMuffin?  The character-in-need-of-a-serious-rewrite?  What a waste of acting talent.

What is the purpose of Jason Statham?
            Statham plays Deckard Shaw, brother of FAST 6 villain Owen Shaw, looking to avenge his brother’s serious injuries.  He begins the movie by simultaneously killing Han & blowing up Dom’s house.  Shaw spends the rest of the movie chasing or trapping Dom & “family”.  There are moments where I was sure there were two flash drives with the God’s Eye technology and Shaw has one of them.  He’s everywhere.
            During the final action sequence, Statham gets into a much anticipated mano-a-mano with Diesel.  Unfortunately, they have to split time with the helicopter trying to kill the hacker & Dom’s crew and whatever the f*ck the body double of Paul Walker was doing.  The third act of FURIOUS 7 is a mess, pure & simple.

Where did Kurt Russell go?
            Seriously!  How am I not hearing anything about this anywhere?  Russell plays “Mr. Nobody”, a government agent hell bent on getting Mose Jakande anyway possible.  He sees Dom & “family” as the perfect opportunity to do so.  “Nobody” supplies the team with the necessary equipment & travel arrangements.  During an attempted warehouse ambush of Shaw, he is wounded by one of Jakande’s minions.  In the car ride back to the airfield home at about the halfway point, “Nobody” asks to be placed on the side of the road so his helicopter can come & take care of him.  Then…
            Nothing.  We don’t see, hear from nor hear about “Nobody” for the rest of the movie.  A pivotal character during the first half of the movie disappears without a trace.  As he was sitting against a guard rail, there was an inkling that maybe he died waiting for the helicopter in the distance.  But with news that Russell may return for the eighth installment in the series, that’s not the case.  So how do you explain “Nobody’s” disappearance?  A terribly written script.

Why was Dwayne Johnson in a hospital bed for most of the movie?
            I said it to myself since he was introduced: The most interesting character in the series is DEA Agent Hobbs, played by Johnson.  If there is anything in this series that has the joy others see in this series, it’s The Rock.  In FIVE, he chases the “family” through Brazil before earning mutual respect.  In SIX, Johnson uses that respect to incentivize the “family” into stopping former British Special Agent Owen Shaw by offering amnesty.  In FURIOUS 7, Johnson gets to fight Statham in his office. 
Exciting right?  Well, I hope you enjoyed it because Hobbs spends the next 90ish minutes in a hospital bed after being blasted out of the building and onto an SUV.  That’s right: the best remaining character in the series is given nothing to do while the increasingly uninteresting “family” gets to have all the “fun”.  Hobbs, whose daughter is visiting him and adds nothing to the movie, eventually has enough of this lying around crap and ends up ending the final battle with a machine gun stolen from a drone (not a typo).  But this one moment does not save the third act nor the movie. 
There is no such thing as too much Dwayne Johnson in this series.  But too little can sink it.  FURIOUS 7 sunk & stunk because of it.

Why was Han buried in LA?
            Just asking.  I found it interesting that the somewhat mysterious figure who was basically blown up in Tokyo was transported to Los Angeles for burial.  Does he have family there?  If not, was it Dom’s doing?  Is Han buried next to Gisele?  Is the funeral used as a shameless transition to a standoff between Dom & Deckard?  Ding ding!  We have a winner!

Why can’t Roman shut up?
            Tyrese’s character is one of the most annoying characters I have ever witnessed on the silver screen.  I understand that there has to be comic relief in these kinds of movies.  But Roman is less Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and way more Justin Bartha’s Riley Poole in NATIONAL TREASURE where every single word out of his mouth is intended for a laugh but rarely do his words move the plot forward.  And speaking of that one time in the entire series they do…

What was Roman’s original role in the Caucasus Mountains heist?
            So the “family” parachutes out of a cargo plane in Azerbaijan with their cars.  The plan was conceived by Roman to get the “God’s Eye”.  But when it’s Roman’s turn to exit the plane, he doesn’t until Tej remotely deploys Roman’s parachute.  This sequence of events puts Roman behind everyone else, unable to assist in the main plot.  But later, Roman reappears very late in the plan, mostly as a decoy.
            Based upon how the plan played out, I really never saw an opening for Roman’s “expertise”.  Maybe he would have been additional muscle in the bus alongside Brian.  But based upon how difficult it was for Brian to get in the bus, I don’t see how he would have got on.  This just goes to show that Roman, since his first scene in 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, is a useless, brainless, humorless modern black caricature.  And he looks so much worse when compared to Ludacris’ Tej.

What actually happened to Brian O’Connor?
            As we all know, Paul Walker died tragically on Thanksgiving weekend 2013 in a car accident in the middle of filming the movie.  After a lengthy delay, the cast & crew were decided to alter the script but had to get creative to finish the film.  Using Paul’s brothers as body doubles, stock footage & $50 million to the wizards at Weta Digital, the movie was completed as best it could without Walker.  But was Brian’s story actually finished?
            I’d argue no.  On a story level, Brian’s conclusion is open-ended at best, but closer to incomplete, to put it nicely.  So after finishing the final battle & jailing Shaw, we see the entire crew on a beach with Brian & Mia playing with their son.  I completely understand that Walker & Diesel couldn’t have a conversation about leaving the group behind and that the fact that a major subplot of the movie revolves around Brian’s inner-conflict about potentially settling down with Mia.  But the ending does not equal the sum of its parts.  The fact remains: Brian O’Connor is still alive and there is no concrete closure to his story.  Plus, if Brian is still alive, how can the group interact with Mia?  Can Jordana Brewster just be written out through no fault of her own?  As Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon joked, can Mia’s excuse be that Brian is at the grocery store?

How can I review this movie so seriously?
            I have been asked many times by family, friends & co-workers why I can't have fun watching movies.  The answer is simple: I do, sometimes more than them.
            Their argument is to turn your brain off as you step into the theatre or as the lights go down.  A nice, flawed argument they have there.  With your brain off at the start, how can you decipher how much fun you can have during the movie?  You need to think about IF a movie is worthy enough to turn your brain off.  For instance, in the first PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN movie, Capt. Jack Sparrow is introduced by comically disembarking his boat while it is sinking.  In last year’s GODZILLA, the movie builds the tension (despite the human story’s lack of quality) to the point where when the monsters are brought together, you are free to sit back & enjoy.
            FURIOUS 7, despite being told by review after review that the movie (and series as a whole ) is dumb fun, there is not one moment, not one stunt, not one line of dialogue that flips the brain’s switch to off.  Some would argue that the cars parachuting out of the plane in the Caucasus Mountains as that moment.  I would counter with how that sequence was set up: Roman’s big unfunny mouth.  Needless to say, I wasn’t amused. 
Two decent action scenes, two unsatisfying villains, one underused hero, one baffling mysterious character and one pathetic third act does not a fun movie make.  I guess I just don’t get the series’ popularity and never will.  And I’m perfectly fine with that.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

FAST & FURIOUS(ly Caught Up)

            For 12 years, I avoided this series like it had swine flu.  Hell, I avoided FAST & FURIOUS like it was swine flu.  I am not a car guy.  I drove the same rickety Saturn (remember them?) my parents gave me 11 summers ago until the last weekend of February.  I may be the furthest thing from a muscle-fueled gear head.  I’m 5’9” & way too damn heavy.  I hate rap music…that isn’t Eminem.
            Needless to say, I’m not the target audience for this soon-to-be seven film series.  I do remember seeing the first one at the friendly neighborhood drive-in movie theatre.  (Side note: That drive-in [Skyview-Twin in Carmichaels, PA] is about two miles from my parents’ house and opens for the season on the night of FURIOUS 7’s release.)  I enjoyed it, bought the DVD in January then promptly threw it off to the side, like it was some 3rd place science fair ribbon you are too embarrassed to say you have.  Each sequel looked progressively worse & worse.  Yet, the box office returns blew up with each installment.
            To say the series is a cultural phenomenon may be an understatement.  A $93+ million Memorial Day weekend opening domestically, $239 million domestic & $789 worldwide totals is impressive.  But the eye-opening moment for me came in the aftermath of the tragic, ironic death of the series’ star Paul Walker.  Fan & industry tributes sprung up everywhere you turned.  FAST & FURIOUS meant something to people.
            And that’s where I come to with this piece.  In order to understand the craze, I had to witness the craze firsthand.  But as I said before, I haven’t watched any of the previous 5 movies.  So I decided to do what my generation does best: binge-watch all 12+ hours of moving pictures with sound.  Just like with TWILIGHT 2 ½ years ago, I watched each of the previous installments over the course of a week & wrote a little something about each one before seeing FURIOUS 7 opening night solo.  Enjoy!

Spoilers ahead.  Continue with caution. 

Who am I kidding?  Are you really going to care if I spoil anything in these movies?  I mean, there’s no “Luke, I am your father” or Bruce Willis is dead the whole time moments.  So how spoilery can I really get?

Warning: Major spoilers for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and THE SIXTH SENSE above.


            Gearhead Brian (Walker) wants in on the illegal street racing scene.  To do so, he needs to beat/impress the king of the street, Dom Toretto (Diesel).  After a night of evading the police & a rival car gang, Brian meets the crew: Dom’s girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez), Dom’s sister Mia (Brewster), tech guy Jesse and muscle guys Leon & Vince.  Did I mention Brian is an undercover cop investigating a series of robberies of trucks by skilled drivers?
            One major theme of this series is how the quality of the beginning sequence, both as an individual scene and as how it relates to the rest of the movie.  The opening sequence of the series is quite thrilling as we see the band of auto bandits steal a truck of recently imported electronic goods.  As you sit through the remaining 100+ minutes, you can clearly see the tone is established wonderfully by the opening scene.  There is another great truck robbery sequence to open the third act that’s even more thrilling.  The car races are enough to keep the viewer satisfied, even if you have the check your understanding of the laws of time & space at the door.
            As for the drama provided by the screenplay, it is low on horsepower.  The struggle Brian has with himself between his personal relationship with Dom & his professional obligation as a cop exists but lacks the necessary kick to really jump the movie to the next level.  All the actors try their best but their acting chops are average at best (Walker’s best performance, hands down, will forever be in 1998’s PLEASANTVILLE) and the dialogue does little to assist them.  And the music cues are at times laughable.  One of the opening scenes features a confrontation between Brian & Vince wherein Vince comes from behind Brian to shove him into his car.  All the while, a synthesized chorus on the soundtrack warns the viewer (and, I assume, Brian) to “Watch yo, watch yo, watch yo back!”  I lost it.
            Eventually, I regained my composure to, much to my surprise, enjoy this first installment.  I wanted to see what happen to these characters.  I wanted to see why, in the eyes of critics & the audience, these movies failed where this one succeeded.


            Brian is now in Miami, off the force and racing cars.  After the opening racing sequence, which has little significance to the rest of the plot, Brian is arrested and given a deal to get out of it.  Brian, along with ex-childhood friend Roman (Tyrese), are tasked with co-operating with undercover agent Fuentes (Mendes) to bring down drug kingpin Carter Verone (Hauser).
            A big issue with this movie is that everything is standard, subpar elements of movies that you have seen before.  The drug dealer is your everyday extravagant living snoozefest of a guy with minions to carry out all his dirty work.  The black best friend is a wisecracking, gun-toting hothead.  Everything on the young Japanese girl has everything covered in pink and generic anime characters.
            Worst of all, all the action scenes are showoffy without advancing the plot.  The movie features the most shifting of vehicles of any movie released prior to 2013’s GETAWAY.  And the third act features the recreation of a scene from The Dukes of Hazzard or SMOKEY & THE BANDIT with about 1/20 the joy.
And the movie is so forgettable I don’t feel like continuing to talk about it.  It still exists, it’s in color, it’s in focus.  That’s all.


            And now for something completely different.  Mostly.
            High school senior Sean (Black) is in deep with the law.  After destroying portions of an in-construction luxury housing development, it looks like a stint in prison is in his future.  But his mother works out a deal: he’ll finish out his high school career with his Naval officer father…in Japan.  There, Sean falls under the spell of the underground racing scene in Tokyo and a mafioso’s nephew’s girlfriend.  Under the arm of the mysterious Han, can Sean survive the ire of the Yakuza and thrive in the driving world?
            At first glance, TOKYO DRIFT has even less to do with the first movie than the second one.  Sure, there’s street racing & a bland white guy in the lead role but that’s about it.  The basic story is formulaic with the typical hero in a strange land needing to survive with the help of the wise, mysterious guide and the young “damsel in distress” being ruled by the tyrant.  The real problem here is the movie is too crowded.  Alongside the hero’s journey & the street racing, there’s a large chunk of the movie devoted to the villain & his connections to the Japanese mafia.  The movie slides into his subplot so often that I couldn’t help but feel the movie was a Japanese mafia movie first as opposed to how the movie was gift-wrapped & marketed: a FAST & FURIOUS sequel.
            The over-stuffing becomes a major and hilarious problem in the third act.  After Han’s death in a car wreck after being outed as a thief inside the Yakuza, Sean decides to pay off Han’s debt.  After being rejected, he resorts to Plan B: …wait for it…CHALENGING THE VILLAIN TO A STREET RACE AND THE YAKUZA ACCEPTS.  A subplot that was played so deathly seriously that you’d swear the movie were trying for Academy Awards now turns in a way that is so absurd it makes me wonder why the Yakuza didn’t sue.
            And the race itself is even more laughable (if it didn’t take itself so seriously).  First, the race takes place in the dead of night, on a public, hillside road, is at least, in my estimation, 3.5 miles long and contains about 40 turns.  They don’t call the villain “D.K.” (Drift King) for nothing I guess but to run this track would be impossible on the clearest day in the history of Japan, let alone on a foggy, soggy night.  There is little room for spectators on the track.  Luckily, with the (apparent) abundance of HD-quality, live-streaming cell phone video technology (I wish I was kidding) in Japan in 2005, viewing the race is crystal clear.
            Apart from the Vin Diesel cameo and the end credits tie-in in FURIOUS 6, TOKYO DRIFT is little more than the run-of-the-mill, over-serious, poorly-acted, unfocused action flick.  But at least I remember some of it.



            The on-the-road heist-masters (plus Han) from the original are back.  After stealing and selling six tanks full of fuel the Dominican Republic, Dom disbands the group and go their separate ways.  Months later, Letty is killed in a car accident in LA and the group is determined to find the culprit.  Meanwhile, Brian is on the powerful side of the law again.  This time, he is on a team baffled by the trail of drug kingpin Arturo Braga.  Eventually, Dom & Brian, separately, become runners in Braga’s gang, determined to bring him down.
            This fourth installment suffers from the same issues as the second.  Every scene is bogged down by a single, bland, overreaching drug running plan.  Because the end game is so narrow & specific and the specifics of the world created by the script (the US-Mexico border at one point has a high & wide mountain range that the only way across is through an unlit, man-made, rickety tunnel with automatic garage doors that US Customs hasn’t discovered) are so inexplicable that the movie gets really boring, really quickly with the lack of interesting action sequences.  Driving through a tunnel never looked so boring.  And with that boredom hanging over the proceedings, the climax, despite the ridiculous world described above, is taken so serious you’d swear Mike Leigh were in the director’s chair.
            In the end, you could say this movie only exists to introduce the world the actress who would play Wonder Woman and to create the cliffhanger that opens…


            After the events of the fourth installment, Dom is sentenced to hard, long time in prison.  Luckily, his “family” arrives to break him out.  Once freed, the crew heads down to Rio for sanctuary.  After a job stealing cars off a train, Dom & Brian draw the ire of the cars’ owner, drug kingpin Hernan Reyes.  Soon, Dom & Brian discover the scope of Reyes’ influence on Rio and with the help of DEA Agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson), plan to end his empire.
            For the first time since the original, there is a sense of joy in these characters and to the script.  Unlike the second & fourth installments, we see the potential for a more open storyline as the “family” looks at the drug cartel from the outside.  Trying to stop a criminal from the outside is more interesting than inside out unless you have the best of the best screenwriters on the payroll.
            FAST FIVE also features the best action sequence of the series.  I know I said I was going to spoil a lot of this series but the third act here needs to be seen to be believed.  For the first time, the mantra “it’s so bad it’s good” applies here.  The setup is absolutely bonkers and the execution is nearly perfect as well.  If you want to watch as little of the series as possible, watch the third act of this one.  It is worth every second.
            Despite the joyous third act, the movie suffers at little from its length and its meandering and forgettable second act.  You’ll enter the end credits satisfied but the journey there is arduous at times.


            After the events (& profits) of the previous movie, the “family” once again have gone their separate ways.  But soon enough, they are brought together for one last job.  Owen Shaw is a slick, ex-Special Forces criminal with a talented crew.  If Shaw is caught by Dom & his crew, Hobbs can guarantee they can all go home, their records wiped clean.  Just one twist: Shaw’s number two is the presumed-dead Letty.
            To be honest, I remember very little in the four days since watching it, outside of the third act of this unremarkable movie.  The only thing I remember is the juxtaposition of the two crews.  The heroes act like a family, always there for each other even eating together.  Shaw’s crew members are just in it for the money.  A fascinating detail to throw into this movie.
            But the entire movie is nothing more than padding to set up the final, ludicrous action sequence.  After obtaining the MacGuffin (if you don’t know what that is, please look it up), Hobbs & his crew try to get away via cargo plane.  Dom & his crew stop them by grounding the plane.  Literally.  Using military-grade harpoons, the non-muscle members of the team shoot the flaps on the wings and used their cars as weights to keep them on the longest runway in the universe.  All the while, Dom, Hobbs and a converted Letty steal the MacGuffin then escape before the plane crashes.
The final action scene is impressive but the movie stills lacks that dramatic kick necessary to move this, or any other movie, along.


            To put it simply, I don’t get it.  With a title like FAST & FURIOUS, the action should be that and occasionally it is.  But most sequences fall short of the high bar set not only the nomenclature of the title but also by how the first scene of the first movie.  That first heist is fun, exciting and somewhat original.  The cars & the driving abilities of the characters actually mean something in that scene and in the other heist scene early in the third act of the same movie.  Apart from opening scene of the fourth film and the climatic scene of FAST FIVE, at no other time does the ability to maneuver the cars by any of the characters mean anything to the plot.  It is also telling that the most interesting character of the series is chasing them, played by The Rock & is not introduced until FAST FIVE.
And what’s most shocking of all is that this series only get more popular.  I do not understand the movie-going public’s fascination with these uninteresting characters, the horrible dialogue and the (mostly) subpar action sequences.  It both shocks & saddens me that FURIOUS 7, which I have seen & will write about later, will be seen by more people in three days than will ever see WHIPLASH or DRIVE.  SPRING BREAKERS has a more satisfying gun play than anything these screenwriters could ever conceive.

Quantity does not mean quality.  It never has and never will.  The FAST & FURIOUS series is no different.  The lack of drama & intrigue sinks the series.  Movies should not go in one ear and out the other.  Movies are special, unique and precious.  But that’s a different story for a different day.  The series is a mess.  Pure & simple.