Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludaris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren
Hollywood’s most unlikely mega-franchise returns with the awkwardly titled The Fate of the Furious. Not having skipped a beat since the tragic death of Paul Walker, this eighth instalment in the Fast and Furious series has retooled with a new director and the addition of not one but two Academy Award winning actresses to the cast.
While honeymooning in Havana with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom (Vin Diesel) is approached by the cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) with a proposition. When Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) calls in Dom and his team to help recover a stolen EMP device in Berlin, the unthinkable happens as Dom betrays them, stealing the weapon and driving off. With the team determined to discover what could lead Dom to turn his back on his family, and the government determined to work out Cipher’s endgame, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) insists that their best chance of catching up with Dom is for Hobbs and the gang to join forces with their once sworn enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Continue reading
Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell
No one does what the Fast & Furious franchise does better than them. From reasonably modest beginnings, and seemingly stalled after its third entry, it has become the jewel in Universal’s crown and has taken over US$3 billion worldwide. Very few franchises make it to seven films, and those that do are often on their last legs, but with Furious 7 this one just keeps getting bigger.
It is impossible to watch this film without Paul Walker’s tragic death being at the front of your mind. Walker was killed in a high speed car accident in November 2013 midway through the shooting of Furious 7 and many legitimately felt that it would be the end of the franchise. But after substantial rewrites, production recommenced, with Walker’s scenes finished using body doubles and digital trickery. And it worked. Furious 7 is not only a fun film but a fitting and heartfelt farewell to Walker, which, in a way, should not be a surprise. At its heart this series has always been about family (just in case you missed the surely hundreds of times the word family has been used across the seven films), so there is arguably no franchise better suited to handling the loss of one of its stars than this one. Continue reading
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gai Gadot, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Gina Carano
Amazingly, as the Fast & Furious franchise extends into its sixth instalment, rather than fizzling out as it tries and squeeze every last dollar out of the concept, it appears to have found a second wind and is getting stronger. By most every measure of quality, Fast & Furious 6 is terrible, except for one… it is heaps of fun.
Adversaries become allies and the hunted become the hunters when Federal Agent Hobbs is forced to turn to Toretto and his team to help catch Owen Shaw, a terrorist he has been tracking across the globe who leads an elite mercenary team of drivers. But what is in it for Toretto and his team? Why would they abandon the high life they are all living having made off with $100m at the end of Fast Five to assist their nemesis? Because one of Shaw’s crew is none other than Toretto’s lost love Letty, who we all thought died in Fast & Furious (the fourth one, not to be confused with The Fast and the Furious, the original). Oh, and she has amnesia… seriously.
The strength of this franchise, particularly with this film and the last, is that it knows exactly what it is. This movie is completely ridiculous, but it revels in it. Fast & Furious 6 is director Justin Lin’s fourth film in the series, having come on board for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and he delivers a very self-assured film. He knows what this film is, he knows who its audience is and what they are there to see, and he delivers it.
The plot is farcical. The acting is wooden. The dialogue is horrendous. But none of that matters because the there are plenty of laughs (about half of which are intentional) and the action is second-to-none. Lin gives us four major car-chase sequences, each one better than the last and each one good enough to be the climax of most action movies. Of particular note are the chase on a coastal bridge in Spain which features an army tank, and the climactic chase involving a cargo plane on a military base which must have the longest runway in the world.
There’s a great little post-credit scene which is going to blow the minds of fans, and assure they are all counting down for number seven.
Rating – ★★★
Review by Duncan McLean