Furious 7 – Part Deux Vroom Vroom

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.”

Well I spent yesterday detailing how atrocious the script for Furious 7 was. The thing is there’s another movie here. The other Furious 7 is all about the casting and that film is knocked out of the park.

All of the previous crew return in Furious 7 although Sung Kang as Han only appears in the scene repeated from the end of Fast & Furious 6. The multi-ethnic portion is a good sell for the international market. Obviously there is a lot of sentiment for Paul Walker’s final performance. Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are given star roles but there are plenty of good moments for Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Mia (Jordana Brewster).

Jason Statham is a great tough guy and it’s a wonderful coup that Furious 7 was able to convince him to play a villain. While not a great actor, he oozes danger. Unfortunately, they go overboard with this and make him unstoppable. He is a former special forces assassin with obvious psychic abilities.

Kurt Russell is brought out of retirement to play the enigmatic Mr. Nobody. I honestly thought that the next time I would see him would be in The Expendables 4 (or 5). He is suitably cool and appeals to older audiences. They also give him a kick-butt action sequence.

In smaller henchmen roles, they have wisely cast MMA champion Ronda Rousey and martial arts master Tony Jaa. Naturally, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey) have a rousing good fight that is a highlight of the film. Kiet (Tony Jaa) has several scenes but his inside the bus fight with Brian (Paul Walker) is one of the other highlights.

Unfortunately, while director James Wan has a fantastic stunt team on his hands, he still resorts to the now standard shaky cam and fast editing of action sequences. The sequences aren’t ruined but most of them aren’t allowed proper room to breathe. Wan often seems more interested in various camera tricks than in the mutlimillion dollar stunts.

While the cast is excellent, the movie is not. It is quite watchable however. If all you want is to see some good fights, pretty people, and fast cars then Furious 7 will take care of you. It is also a loving homage to Paul Walker, that is one part they did get right.

Furious 7 – Brain Dead or Brain Deader?

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.

I want to talk about two movies. Back in 2013, I spent some time ragging on the aggressively stupid Fast & Furious 6. I would not have thought it possible for the franchise to get stupider but I was so wrong. Furious 7 easily has the dumbest, most poorly plotted, cliched excuse for a script since the last Transformers fiasco.

Although I am certain that much of this is by committee, blame must be laid at the feet of scribe Chris Morgan. He has written the script for five of the Fast & Furious movies and, if he was trying before, he certainly isn’t now.

I congratulate Morgan on coming up with the single most irrelevant MacGuffin in the history of cinema. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the F&F gang join a not-so-clandestine organization to recover an item that would tell them where Deckard Shaw is. The thing is that the group is unable to go ANYWHERE without Deckard Shaw being there.

Seriously, I mean ANYWHERE. They literally parachute onto an obscure highway in Azerbaijan and *SURPRISE* Deckard Shaw shows up on that highway. They crash a party in Abu Dhabi and *SURPRISE* who steps off the elevator but Deckard Shaw. Morgan doesn’t even bother with a reason why he would be there. They jaunt off to Los Angeles and, well, you get the picture.

Deckard is also quite psychic in several other scenes. When he confronts Hobbs, he says “like I said…” and then proceeds with information that he never actually said or even hinted at. Deckard is able to, in the span of 36 hours per a news report, attack Hobbs, steal information about the crew, jet off to Tokyo, track down and kill Han, and mail a package containing a ‘smart’ bomb back to Toretto’s house. He also has some mystical knowledge that Toretto is right by the bomb, even though Deckard is in Tokyo.

I say smart bomb because, while it entirely destroys Toretto’s house, it does absolutely no damage to the house next door, even the windows. Moving on from the plotting, the dialogue is just dreadful. I would say that it’s a throwback to 80s action cinema but if so, it’s to bad 80s action cinema. The one-liners fall with dull thuds and there are no clever retorts.

You just earned yourself a dance with the devil, boy.”

“Did you bring the cavalry?” – “Woman, I am the cavalry” (although he actually says calvary)

“The thing about street fights… the street always wins.”

“Would you believe I knocked him out with my charm?” – “You’re not that charming, b*tch.

As per the norm, Furious 7 has no idea of what a hacker is or does. Unfortunately for a 2015 movie, Furious also has no idea how the internet works or for that matter cell phone service, towers in particular. Honestly, the ignorance on display here is embarrassing. Talk about setting the bar low.

More tomorrow – I have to go wipe the froth from my lips.

Hercules Schmercules

I recently had a day at the movies. You should go catch Snowpiercer but here are a few notes on Hercules. Hercules is currently playing in theaters.

Hercules

 

Hercules (2014) РRated PG-13

Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.

Once again we have multiple projects on the exact same topic. Last year, it was an assault on the White House. Previous years have seen competing versions of Snow White to the pairing of Valmont/Dangerous Liaisons. This year, Hercules is our whipping boy.

Renny Harlin rushed his “The Legend of Hercules” out at the beginning of the year. I haven’t seen it but by all accounts it is pretty awful. It stars Kellan Lutz and straight-to-DVD action hero Scott Adkins. The Legend of Hercules was dumped into the graveyard of bad movies aka January.

We’re well into July which used to be prime blockbuster territory but now that the blockbusters are all scheduled for May with a few June holdovers, July has become a testing ground for movies that have summer appeal but we don’t think are going to be blockbusters. In this summer heat haze, Brett Ratner brings us Hercules.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is certainly physically like I would picture the mythical Hercules, way better than a model and sparkly vampire. His sense of humor would also seem to lend itself to a lighthearted approach to the material.

I suppose the most unfortunate part of Hercules is that Ratner and the writers can’t seem to figure out what they want the movie to be. This Hercules is adapted from the Radical comic of the same name by Steve Moore. I have not read the comic so I cannot comment on that but Evan Spiliotopoulos and first time film scriptwriter Ryan Condal did the adaptation. This is Spiliotopoulos’ first screenplay in five years. Before that he did treatments of the direct-to-DVD sequels for Tinkerbell, Lion King, Tarzan, Cinderella, and Jungle Book.

If you are looking for a Steve Reeves peplum romp, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a CGI monster heavy fantasy, look elsewhere. Hercules patterns itself as a cross between the Kevin Sorbo series (Hercules as more of an adventurer than a demigod) and The Magnificent Seven (themselves based on The Seven Samurai).

Hercules leads a team of mercenaries, each with their own specialty (female archer – how original, feral hand axe fighter, seer with a staff, man with knives, etc.) while Herc carries a large styrofoam club. The villains of Hercules are ridiculously underdeveloped. The movie could actually have used to be a bit longer but Ratner wanted to keep things breezy. Hercules runs a scant hour and thirty-eight minutes long.

I guess I should be glad that they kept CGI to a minimum as the scene with the snakes is laughably bad as are some of the fire effects late in the film. The Nemean Lion and monstrous boar, shown briefly in flashback/storytelling mode, looked good though.

The movie plays out a little darker than Johnson’s preferred acting style. He is still fun to watch as are Ian McShane and Ingrid Bolso Berdal as teammates. John Hurt effortlessly steals the show as Lord Cotys. The movie seems tailor-made for a series of adventures featuring Hercules and friends.

The movie isn’t terrible but I can really only recommend it for fans of The Rock.