‘Fast & Furious 6’ Review

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Dir: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky and Gina Carano

Synopsis: Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.

 

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always. If you want to comment feel free but please don’t spoil anything in the comment section.*

 

The tag line “All roads lead to this” was truly a great tag line for Fast & Furious 6. Faced with the task of trying to top Fast Five (which is easier said than done), Furious 6 (as the movie is titled in the opening credits) offers a more international feel and some mind-boggling car stunts even as its story strives to bring the characters full circle while also setting up future installments (which is currently being worked on). But does it actually do that? Yes, yes it does.

Furious 6 finds our favorite street racers and thieves (Diesel, Walker, Tyrese, Ludacris, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot) having to team up with the man that tried to bring them down before Hobbs (Johnson). Hobbs brings them in to track down an even worse criminal: former British Special Forces soldier Owen Shaw (Evans), who is pulling off a series of auto-centric crimes that are more dangerous and thought-out than our good guys.

Hobbs mentally is like the old saying “it takes a thief to catch a thief.” But the only reason Hobbs has any leverage is the return of the presumably dead Letty (Rodriguez) and the fact that she is for whatever reason working for Shaw. The team agrees to work with Hobbs and his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) only if they get full pardons so they can return home to the U.S). Fast paced actions then ensues.

While many think the Fast and the Furious franchise is all about ridiculous car chases, stunts, and cheesy one-liners (although it sometimes is) one of the prime focuses is the family aspect, which will get to in a minute. However, Fast & Furious 6 primary focus is on the past and bringing the characters’ stories full circle. Letty’s not the only blast from the past here (I won’t say who else returns), but these callbacks should definitely please those who’ve been fans of the series since the beginning. That’s not to say Furious 6 doesn’t also have the future on its mind. Some characters’ arcs reach their conclusion, while big seeds are also planted for what might come next for the rest.

Of course the highlight of the franchise is the car scenes. Fast Five really made it hard for the filmmakers to make whatever set-pieces they had in this movie a bit tough to surpass. However they did succeed with some of the big chases like the tank sequence and the takedown of the plane. Even the first chase that introduces a new car that Shaw drives and we briefly see in the trailer is pretty damn impressive. Although I wouldn’t put it pass anybody that thinks the car chases get a little redundant. One sequence in particular is like that. There is of course humor in the movie which is always nice although some of the jokes fall a bit flat.

As for the cast, they all do a great job although after playing the characters for so long you would think they would. Diesel and Walker being the faces of the franchise still have the strong chemistry they had in the first movie. Although you really can say this movie is all about Diesel’s Dom and him trying to bring back Letty. Speaking of Letty, Rodriguez is nice to have back and is still tougher than she was before they “killed” her. Ludacris, Tyrese, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot all have their moments to shine and Jordana Brewster again doesn’t really have much to do, although this time it’s for a descent reason. Johnson of course shows off more of his muscles and with a future spin-off in the works I’m glad there stretching out his character more.

As for Luke Evans as Shaw, he is really a threat the team has never faced before. He’s not afraid for putting people at risk to get what he wants and isn’t afraid to expose somebody’s weakness so he can get ahead. Finally, director Justin Lin. Lin has already said he’s leaving the franchise due to being a bit burnt out and a fast production date for part seven. Lin has done an amazing job in the movie and has made us care about this characters. He made the family dynamic as important as the crazy car chases and has fleshed out this characters that may have been just one dimensional if another director was bought in.

All in all, who knew the Fast and the Furious franchise would have six movies under its belt and have been getting better as they continued. Does the movie have some over the top moments? Yes, a car comes out of a plane damn it! But, lets be realistic here, it’s an action movie. Would you really want it any other way?

Lastly, stay a little while after the first part of the credits. It’s a nice little surprise and totally worth it.

Fast & Furious 6

5 out of 5

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‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Review

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Dir: Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 and 3)

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis

Synopsis: The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence

 

It’s not very often when we get a sequel that is intended to be a sequel but at the same time a reboot. This is exactly what Paramount and Hasbro have done with director Jon M. Chu with their highly popular 80’s TV show and toy line G.I. Joe. If you didn’t see G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra (lucky bastard) then you really don’t need to worry. The only characters that cross over to Retaliation are Duke (Channing Tatum), Strom Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), The President (Jonathan Pryce), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and the character of Cobra Commander (although played and voiced by a different actor).

Now don’t worry, you’re not missing much really but the only real thing you have to know is that Zartan (played by Arnold Vosloo from The Mummy) has been planted into the U.S government to take the form of the President by Cobra and that Cobra Commander is locked away. All caught up? Good now lets get on with the review.

I mention before that this movie acts like a sequel but also a reboot for the franchise which the movie truly needed. Besides some of the characters the whole movie brings in a new cast and a new overall approach of being more serious than comedic like The Rise of Cobra. The movie does have humorous scenes which fit very well within the scenes and aren’t so cheesy that it won’t make you roll your eyes.

The early scenes establish the close bond between Duke (Tatum) and Roadblock (Johnson). We’re told in a brief scene that Duke now runs his own unit and includes Snake-Eyes (Park), Flint (Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Palicki) and a few others. But when the Joes are framed and ambushed, Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye (I’ll get to Snake Eyes in a bit) escape and try to clear their names and find out what happened to them.

Now, this is only one half of the movie. The other half of the movie is told through the story of Snake Eyes and of course, ninjas. Maybe one of the only good things about Rise of Cobra was that it went into the some of the back story between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Here it goes into more as Snake Eyes is trying to get Storm Shadow so he can pay for the murder of their clan leader.

This actually leads to the standout sequence of the movie and one that has been understandably well-featured in the trailers, the mountainside scene. The reason it truly stands out is because it is a dialogue-free fight between Snake Eyes, Jinx (Yung) and a horde of Red Ninjas, which is inspired by Larry Hama’s famous silent issue of the 1980s G.I. Joe Marvel comic. In about ten minutes all we get is background music and an intense and thrilling action scene that involves everybody diving, gliding, flipping and slicing each other. Retaliation goes back into its roots, more military combat and ninjas, and the movie doesn’t depend on heavy doses of CG, like power suits, expect for the destruction of London (not a spoiler it’s in the trailers) but does have some cool futuristic tech that I kind of wish they used more in the movie.

Let’s get to the performances shall we. They’re all pretty solid. Johnson pretty much runs the show here, arguably next to Snake Eyes, but Johnson proves that he can take over the franchise if need be. On the other end, Jonathan Pryce as the President/Zartan President, has more to do here and you can tell he’s having fun with the role and it’s pretty fun to watch. Palicki and Cotrona don’t really have a lot to do besides their action sequences which they hold their own. Elodie Yung’s Jinx is interesting because despite being a presence’s in the ninja storyline and mountain scene she kind of just gets lost in the background once the stories merge.

Stevenson, with his southern accent, looks to have fun playing the villain Firefly as does Walton Goggins who plays a warden that holds Cobra Commander. Speaking of Commander, he was played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the first movie but was replaced in this one by two people (one voice other as the actual character). The funny thing about seeing Cobra Commander is that he actually looks like he does in the TV show and even his voice is a bit closer and yes it does sound a bit cheesy at times but come on that’s the character.

I know the commercials have been pushing Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton, he’s the reason they call themselves Joes, but he’s not really in the movie that much. Willis’s role is really a glorified cameo. But the real negative on the acting side is RZA as the Blind Master. Every time he comes on screen it kind of slows the movie down and the performances comes off more as campy than “good cheesy” (can I use that term?).

All in all, Retaliation is the G.I Joe movie that the first movie should have been. It was tons of fun to watch and really enjoyable with cool action sequences and humor that should please fans. I did end up watching the movie in 3D and some scenes were kind of cool to see but you can go watch it in 2D and won’t miss much.

G.I. Joe Retaliation

4 out of 5