Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Dwayne Johnson’

How did we get here?  Sixteen years ago The Fast and the Furious was the type of mid budget film that we don’t see much of these days.  It cost around $40million to make and took just over $200million at the worldwide boxoffice. Certainly enough earn a sequel, but seven ever growing sequels, did anyone see that coming? the fate of the furious submarine

The Fast and the Furious (2001): The modest (in comparison to later films) movie started out as a magazine article “Racer X”, about groups who got together to illegally race customised Japanese cars late at night on New York streets.  The story was expanded by adding the plot of Point Break with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel taking over the Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze parts.The fast and the furious

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): Leaving the rest of the original cast behind, and sticking with Paul Walker’s undercover cop.  This film introduces Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) who become mainstays of the later films.  Roman starts out as s tough ex-con, in later films he has become the comic relief of the series and not the tough guy.  The budget nearly doubled that of the first film but the boxoffice was only up a fraction.2-fast-2-furious-2003-movie-poster

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006): Dropping the entire cast of the first two movies (almost). Looking everyone of his 24 years, Lucas Black plays a 17 year old high school student sent to live with his U.S. Navy officer farther in Tokyo.  There he gets involved with drift racing and the Yakuza.  Although Black does make an apearence in a later film he didn’t become part of the “family”.  Han Lue (Sung Kang) however, did!  For reasons that you will understand if you have seen the film, the introduction of Han into later films needs a little crow-baring to fit the continuity.  Vin Diesel returns in a cameo pointing the way forward.  The weakest performing movie both taken as overall boxoffice and return on investment.the fast and the furious tokyo drift movie poster

Fast & Furious (2009): The “family” are back together, original cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodríguez and Jordana Brewster all return and are joined by Sung Kang in his second film.  The film also introduces new family member Gisele Yashar played by future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot.  Following the dip in performance the fledgling franchise was experiencing, the budget did not go up from the $85million spent on the previous film, and when adjusted for inflation was actually less than the $76million budget of the second film.  It took nearly $365million, over double the previous film.fast and furious

Fast Five (2011): Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Sung Kang and Jordana Brewster all return, as does Gal Gadot, Ludacris  and the new more comic version of Tyrese Gibson return from the second film.  The turning point of the franchise where things stated to get sill also saw the introduction of Luke Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson and Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) who has a significant part in the latest film.  I am not sure if Universal made a conscious decision to turn the franchise into a high octane heist movie.  I am not sure if they have ever confirmed or denied it, but the was a suggestion it was based on a script that started out as a sequel to the Italian Job remake (2003).  It is totally ridicules, but great fun, probably the high watermark for the franchise.  With the new direction the studio backed the franchise with a budget of $125million.  They were rewarded with a boxoffice of nearly $600million.fast five

Fast & Furious 6 (2013): Continuing the globetrotting high octane heist movie of Fast Five the “family” are back on the right side of the law for a while.  All the main cast from the previouse film return along with Michelle Rodriguez whose character Letty Ortiz returns from the dead.  Gina Carano also join the cast possibly for the sole reason to fight with Michelle Rodriguez.  Luke Evans plays villain Owen Shaw with Jason Statham appearing in a post credit sting as his brother.  The budget went up to $160million and returned nearly $800million.Fast & Furious 6

Furious 7 (2015): Following the events of the previous film, the “family” are back home in LA having being given amnesty for their past crimes.  Until Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) shows up after revenge for what happened to his brother.  This is all mixed in with a convoluted plot about a computerised McGuffin.  Don’t worry Kurt Russell is on hand as Mr. Nobody aka, Basil Exposition to explain everything.  Nathalie Emmanuel joins the family as Ramsey, a British computer “hacktivist” who is integral to the McGuffin.  The cast also features Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey.  By far the biggest movie of the franchise so far, the budget had swelled to $190million but the world boxoffice exceeded $1.5billion, or to put it another way ten times what Tokyo Drift made.  It is ranked 6th in the all time world boxoffice (before any adjustments for inflation), it was the third highrst grossing film of 2015 coming behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World but beating Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spectre and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.  It isn’t all good news, as has been well publicised, Paul Walker was killed before the end of productionFurious 7

The Fate of the Furious: And so we come to the eight film in the franchise.  There was certainly a gear change at number five, but the series hasn’t so much changed, but it has evolved or morphed over time.  While placing the first and the most recent films alongside each other in isolation would look strange, the transition makes sense in a bonkers Hollywood way.  Charlize Theron is the main antagonist Cipher, a little like Blofeld in Spectre is revealed to be behind everything, not quite, but you get the idea!  In the franchises biggest Retcon, bigger than bringing Letty back from the dead, Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw is now a good guy.  No bad thing, as he is the best thing in the movie, closely followed by Helen Mirren playing his mom.  Yes, I did say Dame Helen Mirren as The Stath’s mom, complete with an “alright gov’nor” cockney villain accent.  I have made a bit of a joke about the “family” in films, this is because it is the ongoing theme of the movies, the thing that keeps this group together is that they are a family.  However who is left of the ordinal family? Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has obviously been written out.  Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) is mentioned but is now with Brian and their own family, so all that remains of the original family is Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz.the fate of the furious poster

What next?: No post credit stings to show us the way, Charlize Theron’s Cipher is still alive so expect her back, but what of the Toretto Family?

Original members:

  • Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
  • Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)

Long term members:

  • Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
  • Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges)

New members:

  • Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)
  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

Possible future members:

  • Eric Reisner / Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood)
  • Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)

Read Full Post »

I have never believed in the idea of a guilty pleasure, you either like something or you don’t, and if you like something tell people that you like it and why.  That said I do sometimes enjoy films that I know aren’t very good.  The Fast and the Furious is a series that has certainly had its ups and downs with the highpoint probably being Fast Five (2011).

I recently recommended Furious 7 to someone who likes dumb action movies, only to discover he had not seen any of the previous films.  He asked which of the previous films he should watch before seeing the latest and possibly final outing.  My suggestion;  you ideally need to see Fast & Furious 6 to understand the motivation of Furious 7. On reflection, as already mentioned  Fast Five is the best film, and sets up Fast & Furious 6.  This is when I came to the concussion that the series forms two distinct trilogies.

Brian’s Trilogy

The Fast and the Furious (2001): A rehash of the plot of Point Break, introduces the characters and has some good action scenes.  The plot centres around illegal street racing and vehicular heists. Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is an undercover police officer and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) his prime suspect, basically the Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze characters from Point Break.  The relationships are complicated as Brian falls for  Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) Dominic’s sister.The Fast and the Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): the departure of the biggest star of the series Vin Diesel leaving Paul Walker to carry the story on his own.  The film introduced Tyrese Gibson possibly intended as a replacement for Diesel, a character has gone through a metamorphic change and in the later films became a buffoon offering little more than comic relief.  After being on the run since the end of the first film the plot sees Brian O’Conner, forced to return to the right side of the law to bring down a drug lord.2 Fast 2 Furious

Fast & Furious (2009) aka Fast & Furious 4: The return of the original cast. Brian is now working for the FBI, his and Dominic Toretto’s paths soon cross following the death of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto’s girlfriend from the first film.Fast & Furious

Dominic’s Trilogy

Fast Five (2011) aka Fast & Furious 5 or Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist: Picking up after the events of Fast & Furious, Mia and Brian lead an assault on the bus transporting Dominic to prison.  The convoluted plot of the events that follow include the introduction of U.S. DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and a audacious robbery in Rio.   It has been suggested that the plot comes from an unused script for a sequel to The Italian Job (2003).  As mentioned, probably the best of the series.Fast Five

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) aka Furious 6 or Fast Six: Letty returns from the dead and Hobbs enlists Toretto and his “family” to bring down criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).  As the budget goes up, the stunts get bigger and more silly.Fast & Furious 6

Furious 7 (2015) aka Fast & Furious 7: Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, the brother of Owen Shaw is out for revenge following events of the previous film.  The story had to be reworked to work around the untimely death of star Paul Walker.  The stunts or more outrageous than ever but are pure fun.  If it is the final film in the series it is a fitting conclusion.Furious 7

This leaves The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), although referred to in other movies this film can stand on its own and the other six films can exist without it.  An American high school student discovers drift racing when he is forced to like with his farther in Tokyo to avoid jail.  The film looks good and the racing is well shot but bad acting is terrible particularly from leading man Sean Boswell (Lucas Black).  Look out for martial arts legend Sonny Chiba as a Yakuza boss.  If you want to see a film about drift racing check out the Japanese movie Initial D – Drift Racer (2005). The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift

If you haven’t already seen them, it is worth a look for fans of car movies and action movies.  My one huge reservation is the excessive destruction of classic cars.

Read Full Post »

Movies seen in May:

Dead Man Down: Two damaged people (Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace) looking for revenge find each other. A disjointed crime thriller that has its problems but gets away with them because they are outweighed by the charms of the leading actors.IMG_5538.CR2

Star Trek Into Darkness: Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise go after a terrorist (perfectly played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Lots of well placed nods to the original series but the movie feels a little hollow and undoes some of the great work of the excellent first reboot movie.Star Trek Into Darkness

Mud: Two young teenage boys find a fugitive living in a boat stranded in a tree on a river island. They agree to help him despite the obvious dangers. Further proof that given a decent movie Matthew McConaughey is one of the most underrated actors of his generation coupled with the emerging talent of Tye Sheridan who you may have seen in The Tree of Life.Mud

The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann’s take on the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is as good as it can be for a story that belongs on the page not the screen. The best things about it are the visually stunning party scenes and the stunning performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. Sadly the best things about the film work against each other not with each other making a good and stunning film but not a great and mesmerising one.The Great Gatsby

Fast and Furious 6: Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner (Vin Diesel & Paul Walker) and their crew are once again hired by Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). This time they are after British thief Shaw (Luke Evans) who is working with (back from the dead) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). The story is rubbish leavening the film feeling flat after the surprisingly good previous film. There is enough car action for fans of the series and the fight between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano is good.Fast & Furious 6

Byzantium: After being discover by a mysterious organisation who is tracking them a pair of female vampires (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) flee and end up in a rundown English seaside town. Neil Jordan returns to the vampire movie in the atmospheric and melancholic British horror that may just be the antidote to twilight.Byzantium

The Purge: Set in a near future America where on one day every year there is a 12 hour window when murder is legal. A suburban family get caught in the crossfire when the son decides help a man fleeing from a mob. What could have been a great sleazy B movie or a classy allegoric tale tries to be both and ends up being neither. Interesting and fun but flawed.The Purge

Byzantium Just misses out as movie of the month to Mud:Mud Poster

Read Full Post »

“For all the shut-down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land”

Racing In The Street, Bruce Springsteen

The Fast and the Furious (2001) first appeared more than a decade ago with a title borrowed from a 50’s Roger Corman movie and a plot lifted from Point Break. Who would have thought all these years on we would be seeing a fifth sequel to what was basically a fun but routine movie.Fast & Furious 6 poster

All for of the main cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez return for this latest film (despite one of them appearing not to have survived an earlier instalment) whose trailer premiered at the Super Bowl this weekend. Since the first film Diesel has had his ups and downs, most of the downs involving ill judged attempts at comedy. Rodriguez remains a talented actress but has never found a part to match her debut in Girlfight. On the other hand, the franchise represents the high point of the careers of both Walker and Brewster. This smacks of if in doubt go with what you know! It also helps that the previous film Fast & Furious 5 (aka Fast Five) (2011) was not only a high point for the franchise but also retuned a healthy worldwide box-office in excess of $600 million. Depending on who you listen to, that movie may have started life out as an unused Italian Job sequel script with the imaginative title, The Brazilian Job. Whatever its origins, it was surprisingly good, Fast and Furious 6 is billed as a direct sequel.Fast & Furious 6

After years of destroying customised Japanese cars and classic American muscle cars it appears to have turned its attention to England and a couple of cars that will be recognisable to British viewers, a Jenson Interceptor and even a Ford Escort RS1600. Having taken over for the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin directs for the fourth consecutive time. It is interesting that having three different directors for the first three films Lin has made the franchise his own. He has certainly breathed some life into it. There are several familiar faces from the other movies including Dwayne Johnson in his second Fast & Furiouse movie. They are joined by Gina Carano as one of Johnson’s agents and British actor Luke Evans who appears to be the villain.

A little like the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, The Last Stand, I don’t expect it to be very good, but as long as its good fun, I really don’t mind. Fast & Furious 6 is set for release on 24th May.

Read Full Post »

I have mentioned on many occasions the link between cinema and cars, but what is a car without a driver? Mel Gibson’s “man with no name” in How I Spent My Summer Vacation (aka Get the Gringo) is credited as Driver, but he is not the first or the best Driver; here are my top five characters called Driver (or The Driver):

FIVE: Driver (Dwayne Johnson) in Faster (2010): A throwback to both car and revenge movies from the 70’s. Dwayne Johnson is an archetypal antihero like Gator McKlusky in White Lightning. A man of few words, on a mission for revenge, the movie is far better than you would expect as its star, Johnson. Mostly likely to be seen driving: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 

FOUR: The Driver, (Ryan O’Neal) in The Driver (1978): A minimalist classic about the best getaway driver in the business and the cop trying to catch him in the act. At its best in the chases and car related scenes notably the destruction of a Mercedes-Benz 280 S in a parking garage but not as cool or as slick as it thinks it is in the other scenes. It became the inspiration for many movies that followed as did Ryan O’Neal in the title role. Mostly likely to be seen driving: Anything with for wheels but notably: 1973 Chevrolet C-10 Pickup and 1977 Pontiac Firebird

THREE: The Driver (Clive Owen) in Ambush, Chosen, The Follow, Powder Keg, Star, Hostage, Beat the Devil, Ticker (2001-2002): Not actually a movie but well worth a place on the list. Along with Croupier (1998) this is where a lot of the Clive Owen for Bond talk came from. A series of web based BMW adverts with A list directors including: Tony Scott, John Woo, Guy Ritchie, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Kar Wai Wong, Ang Lee and John Frankenheimer. Aided by a supporting including Stellan Skarsgård, Gary Oldman, Danny Trejo and James Brown & Marilyn Manson (as themselves). With a great blend of action comedy and style they are that little bit more than just a series of car commercials. The idea is so good, so good that Luc Besson and Jason Statham took the idea and ran with it and thus, Frank Martin and the Transporter franchise began. Mostly likely to be seen driving: Various BMW’s from the early 2000’s

TWO: Driver (Ryan Gosling) in Drive (2011): When I first heard about Drive it was to be a Hugh Jackman action heist movie directed by Neil Marshall. While that could have been a great B movie, what we got from director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling was so much more. Reminiscent of Michael Mann’s underrated classic Thief (1981). Violent rather than action packed, but the real pleasure is the way it manages to be retro and completely up to date at the same time, it is the star making turn Gosling has been waiting for. Mostly likely to be seen driving: a stolen getaway car or 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu

ONE: The Driver (James Taylor) in Two-Lane Blacktop (1971): A very different movie than the others on the list, where the others include violent action movies, Two-Lane Blacktop is an existential road movie, it is THE existential road movie. A time-capsule of the pre-Interstate Highway era and a metaphor for disaffected youth in a time when a nation and the world as a whole had lost its way and lost its innocence. This is life after Wyatt tells Billy “We blew it” in Easy Rider. The characters don’t have names in the true sense, they don’t need names! G.T.O (Warren Oates) drives a GTO, The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) looks after the car, The Girl (Laurie Bird) is the girl they pick up along the way, The Driver (James Taylor) is just that, the driver. Mostly likely to be seen driving: 1955 Chevrolet One-Fifty Two-Door Sedan

Read Full Post »