Franchise Weekend – Fast & Furious (2009)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang

 

Plot: Brian O’Conner, back working for the FBI in Los Angeles, teams up with Dominic Toretto to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Back on Track

 

Story: Fast & Furious starts as Dominic (Diesel) is back with Letty (Rodriguez) and Han (Kang) living in the Dominic Republic stealing petrol for a living with the team. When the latest job goes wrong the team scatter with Letty being killed back in LA, while Dom is in Panama.

Brian (Walker) is now in the FBI and once again needs to find a way into a street racing circuit to take down a Mexican crime boss. Dom returns home also on the warpath eventually teaming up with Brian going undercover within the street racing circuit once again.

The job is working for Campos (Ortiz) who answers to Braga who is running drugs across the border but can they really work together?

 

Thoughts on Fast & Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian is now a Fed, which I guess makes sense after what happened in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he still has the desire to be a street racer and gets this chance working with Dom. Dom is now on the run but risks everything to come back to help get revenge on the people responsible for killing Letty. Campos and Fenix are all solid villains but never dominating like needed to make them different from what we have seen before.

Performance wise, Walker and Diesel work great together even if the film is slightly more focused on Dom’s character, the two get to poke a bit of fun about things that happened in the first film. The other performances are all good without being truly stand out.

StoryBringing the original popular characters back helps this story, we have both men coming back to take down the crime boss because we needed the respectful enemies to become friends, taking a character’s life does drive the story too because it shows we could lose someone in this franchise now too. The core story is all what we have seen before, let’s do a crime, take down crime boss and drive away.

Action/Crime/Thriller The car chases are once again bigger and better than last time out which helps the films new direction, the crime story is now our heroes taking down criminals by breaking the law but it works.

SettingsBringing the story back to LA is good because now we see the effects of the previous films on our characters, the secret tunnel across the border also adds to the action.

Special EffectsThe special effects are what we have come to expect from the franchise and they all work well this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is where the franchises got back on tracks because we get to see Dom and Brian back together working on the case to take down the crime boss, I see this as the beginning of what we know as the best chapters of the franchise.

 

Overall: Fun, mad and over the top, just the way we like it.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Director: John Singleton

Writer: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas (Screenplay) Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Ludacris, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aoki

 

Plot: Former cop Brian O’Conner is called upon to bust a dangerous criminal and he recruits the help of a former childhood friend and street racer who has a chance to redeem himself.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Sequel

 

Story: 2 Fast 2 Furious starts as Brian (Walker) is now a wanted man, he leaves LA heading for Miami to start a new life on the street racing scene. Getting his races from Tej (Ludacris), Brian has built up his own reputation on the streets.

Once Brian is captured by the FBI Agent Bilkins (Barry) and Agent Markham (Remar) who want Brian to go undercover once more but this time investigating Carter Verone (Hauser) who is recruiting street racers through fellow undercover officer Monica (Mendes), Brian one rule to make this happen is he gets to bring in Roman (Gibson).

The drop that Brian and Roman must make points them in a hard position but with friends around the town, they make their own plan to stick it to Carter and Agent Markham.

 

Thoughts on 2 Fast 2 Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian fresh on the run enjoying the street racing scene, he gets dragged back into the undercover world but this time as an informant bringing in a friend from the past as we learn about his actions in the first film. Roman is the friend, who has suffered from the effects of Brian’s actions before we met him, he is rash, but brilliant behind the wheel and always talks himself into trouble. Villain wise we have Carter a rich criminal who is in need of drivers, he is deadly when you cross him but otherwise nothing unusual for the villain scene. Monica is the eye candle involved in the film who is the Brian character to the world.

Performance wise this is all good, Paul Walker is of course the highlight of the film with Mendes bringing all the sex appeal you need from her. Gibson does add a comical tone to the film which we do see get built on through the franchise. Cole Hauser is fine as a villain but you never believe he would be a threat for anyone.

StoryMuch like the first film this is a heist movie at heart, we have the street racing needed to build the team and respect but otherwise this is in the same vein as the Transporter movie. This is all fun easy to follow but tries to build the characters within the universe.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action is all what you would expect from the first film but offers nothing new, the crime world is now Miami but again isn’t too different either if you are left wondering what will happen next.

SettingsMiami does make for a great setting as the franchise looks to expand to new locations.

Special EffectsThe special effects are few and far between and all work well without being anything special.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good second chapter of the Brian character, it is a shame that we didn’t see Vin Diesel return because we did see the franchise revolving around him. This isn’t anything new but is easy to follow.

 

Overall: Solid sequel is all good but not great.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast of the Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, David Ayer (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine

 

Plot: Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Begins

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious starts as we meet Brian (Walker) a want to be street racer trying to find his way into the good books of street racing icon Dominic Toretto (Diesel). Earning the respect of Dom after saving him from the police, Brian finds himself welcomed into the world.

This opens the door for us to meet Dom’s enemy on the street, Johnny Tran (Yune) before we learn the truth about Brian’s involvement as an undercover police officer trying to uncover who is behind the crime spree behind the street racing thieves.

The deeper Brian gets into the family the greater the respect both sides have towards each but with his superiors running out of patience Brian must learn what is really going on before Dom’s crew get hurt.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceThe characters we have all come to love start here with Brian the undercover police officers trying to up his ranking in the police force while growing the respect of the underground street racers. Brian fits this world as the outsider as the way in for us the audience too. Dom is the alpha male of the group that everyone respects and once you earn his you become untouchable. He is the best racer, the loyalist friend and brother. Johnny Tran makes for a good starter villain who is just a racing rival to Dom. Letty is the girlfriend of Dom that does have control over him but we don’t see too much from, Mia is Dom’s brother that becomes a love interest for Brian. The rest of the characters are all small parts to the big world Dom controls.

Performance wise, you can see the draw of Paul Walker to this role where you can argue his is the bigger name for the time and he is great, in this film you can see how early into his career Vin Diesel was and he just doesn’t have the screen presence we know from him now. The rest of the cast all do well playing the parts how you would expect them to be.

StoryThe story side of this movie is easy to follow, uncover cop gets drawn to the world he is investigating because of the excitement it gives him. We have the checklist for story here offer us just flashy races to make this different than for example Point Break.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe races are all good to watch, as well are the heists being pulled off which show us both the crime sides of the story because of the illegal racing and they keeps us all on edge for the thrilling side of the story.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in LA which makes for the style the film has because it is away from the glitz and glamor of the world we know.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all here for the races and showing how certain elements of the engine work to increase speed.

Final ThoughtsThis franchise is the go to for nonsense action, but it didn’t start that way and this film shows us the street racing, beginning of a friendship and just how far these guys would go.

 

Overall: The true fans will always love this one over any sequel because of the importance this film gives us to the future franchise.

Rating

 

 

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)

logoDirector: James Wan

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, Ronda Rousey

 

Plot: Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Packed Rollercoaster

 

Story: Furious 7 starts by firstly filling in between the end of Fast & Furious 6 and that telephone call between Dominic (Diesel) and Deckard Shaw (Statham). The opening scene shows Deckard in a hospital standing over his still alive brother Owen (Evans) before showing how many people he has taken out to see his brother. We get to see how Dom is still trying to help Letty (Rodriguez) find her memories. We also see Deckard pay Hobbs (Johnson) a visit finding out who nearly killed his brother leading to Hobbs ending up in hospital and the Toretto’s house being blown up.

Having everything in place we can say goodbye to Han with the whole family Brian (Walker) Mia (Brewster), Roman (Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) back together for the funeral. This leads to the first face to face meeting between Dominic and Deckard before the mysterious Mr Nobody (Russell) to get involved. Mr Nobody wants to retrieve a device created by hacker Ramsey (Emmanuel) but she has been kidnapped by a terrorist unit run by Jakande (Hounsou) with his second in command Kiet (Jaa). Ramsey has created a device called the God’s Eye which can locate anyone, anywhere in the world by hacking into camera.

Dominic’s crew is assigned to retrieve the device which Mr Nobody willing to allow him to use to find Deckard. The crew set out on their mission which includes plenty of action and travelling all over the world and each time everything looks under control Deckard turns up with things escalating once Deckard joins up with Jakande. This leads to an all-out assault with Dom and his crew having to outsmart the terrorists and retrieve the God’s Eye.

Furious 7 is a film I want to talk about in different sections, first I will look at the overall story and I will follow it up with how the franchise deals with Paul Walker’s exit. The story itself is what you would expect from the franchise, we get a bigger villain but one that is still connected to what happened much like what ‘Die Hard 3’ did the Gruber’s brother. Where this film gets extra points is by not making it a two way battle which we could have had with Deckard versus Dominic, we get two extra parties involved one on the good and one of the bad. These teams do actual have their own motives and when all four clash we get the chaos. Remember you will need to suspend your disbelief to a whole new level while watching this. One aspect I did enjoy was the Deckard is willing to go to war alone, no army of soldiers he wants to get everything done alone.

Paul Walker’s departure is always going to be one of the big talking points about this film. The whole film hints at the idea that Dominic wants Brian to stop risking his life and start raising his family. We get told this will be his last ride and after they finish we get a simple goodbye, we and Dom get to say goodbye with the haunting line from Brian ‘You think you could leave without saying goodbye?’ (8/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Vin Diesel: Dominic Toretto is our alpha who takes responsibility for his action after Deckard decides to come for revenge on everyone who took out his brother. Dominic makes deals with suits to make sure he can get to Deckard where he ends up having a showdown fans have wanted to see for years. Vin does a great job in this role showing that he isn’t just a fancy driver he is also bad ass when it comes to hand to hand combat. (8/10)

 dom

Paul Walker: Brian O’Connor is the family man struggling to adjust to his new life all while driving a minivan. Brian misses the action but ends up getting drawn back into it when his family gets put in danger by Deckard. This being Paul’s final role it is hard to say anything bad, we get what we expect from the character and we all get to say goodbye. (8/10)

brian

Jason Statham: Deckard Shaw is the brother of Owen, he wants to clean up the mess his brother has created and is unlike anybody the crew has come up against before. Deckard is a one man wrecking ball and doesn’t need men to get the job done, ex black ops we know that he has all the skills to kill anyone whenever he wants. Jason does a great job as the villain of the piece but he is really only fighting for his brother. (8/10)

 deckard

Michelle Rodriguez: Letty is still struggling with memory loss but with Dominic’s help she is trying to remember just who she once was. Letty goes on the mission getting some of the best driving scenes and fight scene against UFC Ronda Rousey. Michelle does a good job giving us what we expect from the character. (8/10)

 letty

Tyrese Gibson: Roman is clearly the comedy side of this story where he gets to have so many funny lines and scenes; he takes away all the serious side of the story. Tyrese does what you need him to do becoming comic relief. (7/10)

 roman

Ludacris: Tej is almost the double act with Roman but he does have skills the team needs, Tej is the hacker of the team who can make anything work to help the missions. Ludacris does a good job and works well with Gibson. (7/10)

 tej

Dwayne Johnson: Hobbs is the agent who gets first fight with Deckard before ending up in a hospital, he brings Dominic in to finish Deckard off and only turns back up in the film with the final act. Dwayne does a good job with the scenes he is in but it is disappoint just how little he really was used. (7/10)

hobbs

Kurt Russell: Mr Nobody is a mysterious government man who recruits Dominic to retrieve the God’s Eye with the promise of taking down Deckard; this is a very shady role that we don’t know how it will go through the film. Kurt does a good job and gets a glimpse of what he can do in an action film with his Snake memories. (8/10)

 nobody

Nathalie Emmanuel: Ramsey is the hacker and creator of God’s Eye, she is the one who needs to be rescued before working with Dominic and his crew as they use the God’s Eye to get Deckard. Nathalie does a good job joining the franchise which is always going to be hard but she fits in nicely. (7/10)

 ramswey

Tony Jaa: Kiet is the second in command to Jakande who leads the henchmen on the ground, he is also an expert in hand to hand combat leading to fights with Brian. I was disappointed with how little Tony was used because his fighting style is something very special to watch. (7/10)

 

Djimon Hounsou: Jakande is the leader of the terrorists who have Ramsey, but he ends up going up against Dominic and his crew to get the device even if it means teaming up with Deckard. Djimon does a good job in this role playing the role you would expect to see. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Furious 7 still has plenty more characters we could talk about, we have cameos from the cast Tokyo Drift which would have been nice to have a longer part. We also have many soldiers who offer good fights and many more familiar faces only in the odd scene here and there.

 

Director Review: James Wan – James steps out from the horror genre very well, we get to see how he uses his horror ideas on the action genre to give us one of the easiest films to watch in many years. (8/10)

 

Action: Furious 7 is filled with action, be it the skydiving planes, the tower to tower flying or the helicopter, cars and drone back on home turf. There are so many different types of over the top action going on here. (9/10)

Thriller: Furious 7 really keeps you guessing to what will happen to the characters next be it the good or bad. (8/10)

Settings: Furious 7 uses all the settings to make everything look like it has finally gone global but going to Tokyo, Adu Dhabi, London, Afghanistan or back in LA. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Furious 7 uses great effects to make every single mad looking scene look realistic. (9/10)

Suggestion: Furious 7 is one for all the action fans to watch, it will be one the franchise fans will have to watch too. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Mountain action scene.

Worst Part: The lack of the Tokyo casts involvement.

Action Scene Of The Film: Skydiving cars.

Funniest Scene: Most of Roman’s scenes.

Oh My God Moment: Ambulance versus the drone.

Favourite Quote:  Deckard ‘Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me, but you’re about to.’

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: Only with the goodbyes with Brian. (4/10)

Chances of Sequel: It could easily have another one.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

Tagline: Vengeance hits home

 

Overall: Furious 7 is adrenaline fuelled action with a touching final tribute

Rating 82

 

Hollow Man 2 (2006)

logoDirector: Claudio Fah

Writer: Joel Soisson (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Christian Slater, Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, David McIlwraith, William MacDonald, Sarah Deakins  

Plot: Following the re-launch of the project from the first film, Michael Griffin (Slater) takes over as the murderous Hollow-man. Believed that he will not get a chance to become normal again, Michael goes after the people who could save him. Maggie Dalton (Regan) was part of the team that worked on the project, but after Police officer Lisa Martinez (Deakins) is murdered her partner Frank (Facinelli) teams up with Dalton to uncover the truth.   While they are looking for answers, Michael chases them down, but her bosses are using them as bait Colonel Bishop (MacDonald) leads the man hunt for Doctor Reisner (McIlwraith) but can anybody stop Michael?  

Verdict: Poor Sequel

Story: When the first one came out, it was brave and interesting, this tries to live off the success of the original with one of the worst storylines I have seen in recent years. You have idiot cops who spend time looking for an invisible man, injecting them with the drug that makes them invisible without worrying about the side effects even after seeing those side effects. There is zero character development on the villains and very weak on the heroes. In the end it is like an extended rampage of the invisible man with his origin. (2/10)  

Actor Review: Christian Slater – Michael the hollow man himself, determined to find the formula to make him live long he will kill to get it. Considering he is only actually seen near the end, it is more of a voice over performance and Christian really has slipped off the radar after his early roles. (5/10)  

slater

Actor Review: Peter Facinelli – Frank the cop out for revenge after his partner is murdered by the hollow man. He breaks plenty of laws to get his vengeances to chase down the hollow man. Not the best performance or the best written character. (3/10)

pete

Actor Review: Laura Regan – Maggie the scientist who knows the hollow man is after because she worked on the project to making him invisible. Another poor performance, showing that this should have been played by a more capable actoress. (3/10)  

laura

Actor Review: David McIlwraith – William Reisner the lead scientist who made the hollow man the way he was and left him for dead. Simple doctor performance who never really excels. (4/10)  

doc

Actor Review: William MacDonald – Colonel Bishop the man behind the project that has lied to the people involved and now has to cover up the truth before it is too late. Typical Colonel Performance trying to be strict without really being in charge. (5/10)  

 

Director Review: Claudio Fah – Looks like he struggled to handle the material given to him, doesn’t live up to the original or anywhere near it. (3/10)  

Action: Fights with an invisible man, doesn’t work. (4/10)

Horror: Loses the horror aspects created in original. (3/10)

Sci-Fi: Fast forwards over the sci-fi side of the story. (3/10)

Special Effects: Poor special effects used unlike the original. (4/10)

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Settings: The settings are not used well, as everyone seems to go the most obvious places to hide instead of the smart choices. (2/10)

Suggestion: After the Kevin Bacon one was very popular and very well made this is like a spoof film that shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breathe as the first one. (Avoid)  

Best Part: Nothing

Worst Part: Turner takes the drug with no effects but others go through incredible pain.

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: No franchise killer

Tagline: There’s more to terror than meets the eye  

Overall: Awful Sequel That Insults Original Rating 14