‘The Fate of the Furious’ Review

Director: F. Gary Gray

Writer: Chris Morgan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Kristofer Hivju, Elsa Pataky, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren

Synopsis: When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trails that will test them as never before.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Eight films in sixteen years, and somehow the Fast & Furious franchise is still going on and has become stronger with every entry. The film franchise that started as a street-racing film have become heist films that focus on a family of misfits we all love. It’s fair to say the franchise really found its stride with Fast Five, becoming better as the franchise went on. So it’s a bit of a bummer to say that The Fate of the Furious is a step down for the franchise that has broken all the rules of gravity and has challenged us to suspense our disbelief to new levels. Not only that, this is the first film without Paul Walker after his tragic sudden passing during projection on Furious 7.

The Fate of the Furious opens in Cuba, where Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, and in true Fast & Furious action, Dom gets himself into a race. Afterwards, Dom encounters a mysterious woman who knows who he is and all about the crew, Cipher (Charlize Theron). She tells Dom that he’s going to work for her, which of course Dom scoffs at, but shows him something that shakes Dom. We cut to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) who is recruited to get a team together to reacquire a dangerous device, which sets up Hobbs to recruit our team we all know; Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsay (Nathalie Emmanuel) – sans Brian and Mia. It’s there that Dom betrays the group and gets Hobbs captured and sent to a super max prison where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is being held. What follows is the crew trying to figure out why Dom has betrayed them and is working with Cipher, and if Dom is even worth saving.

Of course, one of the biggest questions everyone will have is why has Dom betrayed his family, and thankfully long-time franchise writer Chris Morgan (since Tokyo Drift) doesn’t leave us wondering for too long. The reasoning does make sense too, it’s not some lackluster idea, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. However, it does make you question what will happen now as the franchise moves forward. The other question is how is the film without Paul Walker’s Brian, and the answer is simple: it’s different. However, it doesn’t rely itself on always bringing up Brian either. He is brought up at one point that makes sense, but after that it’s all about the crew, as it should be.

When it comes to the cast, they all have played the characters enough times we know what to expect. Rodriguez’s Letty is the only one that hasn’t given up faith in Dom; Gibson’s Roman is the comic relief as always, although it felt his humor was heighten his time around; Ludacris’ Tej and Emmanuel’s Ramsay bring the technical aspect to everything; and Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs is still an unstoppable, quick-witted, and cheesy line delivering machine who goes insult-to-insult with Statham’s Shaw. Speaking of Johnson and Statham, these two should are incredible together. It would be disappointing if they don’t do more movies together. Kurt Russell also pops in as Mr. Nobody again playing it cool like only he knows, and brings in Scott Eastwood’s character who, isn’t really all the great and sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never Eastwood in anything, or if the character just wasn’t right for him, but I wasn’t digging his character.

When it comes to Charlize Theron’s Cipher – the first female villain of the series – her character is different than you would think. She has her own way at looking at the world, and in true Fast & Furious fashion, her character has a connection to the past films which is why she goes after Dom. I wouldn’t rank her character up there with Owen or Deckard Shaw, but what she’s able to do with a computer is rather frightening.

Going off that, this leads to one of the biggest, and franchise regular absurdity set-pieces, the “zombie” car scene in New York. The scene involves Cipher hacking every car with a computer in New York City so Dom can complete one of her missions. It’s a rather impressive scene, but goes with one of my major gripes with the film: the heavy use of CGI. The scene would have probably been very dangerous to have that many cars do what they do, although they did do some of it since they released a behind-the-scenes online. But, it was the obvious use of CGI which really takes you out of the scene, and it wasn’t the only scene to do it either. I’m not opposed to the use of CGI, and it’s not like the franchise hasn’t used it before, but at least the other films hid it a little better than Fate of the Furious. Not only that, it’s not even the best scene in the film. You can make the argument that the prison riot with Hobbs and Shaw is, as they fight their way out and show off Hobbs being, well, Hobbs.

All in all, The Fate of the Furious isn’t as great as the last three films. I don’t think the franchise has run out of fumes, I think it is trying to readjust after the death of Paul Walker, and trying to find its footing again. We can’t blame the franchise either, I’m pretty sure no one thought the Fast & Furious franchise would make it to eight films, but it has. The characters that we love are there, and the action is just as crazy as you would think with cheesy one-liners to back it up. Is the franchise going to lap out after this? No, probably not.

The Fate of the Furious

3.5 out of 5

‘Suicide Squad’ Review

suicide_squad_ver24

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood, Common, Jim Parrack, Ike Barinholtz, David Harbour, Viola Davis, and Ben Affleck

Synopsis: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a mid-credit scene.*

 

Here we go again. Warner Bros. released their newest film set within their DC Extended Universe, but this time it follows villains instead of heroes, and it has been making fans and critics butt heads. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say some of it is just crazy. However, Suicide Squad isn’t just free and clear since some of the negativity is warranted, but not all of it. The film itself isn’t all that great, but isn’t terrible either. So let’s get to reviewing the worst heroes ever.

Suicide Squad is set after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and sees government agent Amanda Waller (Davis) who has an idea to bring together the, as she puts it, “worst of the worst.” The plan is to make a task force called Task Force X, filled with villains like The Man that Never Misses, Deadshot (Smith), Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn (Robbie), the monstrous Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Australian diamond thief Captain Boomerang (Courtney), pyro-kinetic Diablo (Hernandez), master rope man Slipknot (Beach) and June Moone (Delevingne) who is possessed by the witch Enchantress. The idea is that Waller wants a task force to fight off any other meta-humans – a term many comic books fans will know – threat that come their way.

MV5BMjAxOTUzMTg1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQxNzA0OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1111,1000_AL_

The government, not so sure about Waller’s plan, is suddenly left to go through with it when a supernatural event occurs in Midway City. Considering the task force is filled with villains, Waller and the government have their easy out if things go wrong. To make sure things go smoothly, Waller makes solider Rick Flag (Kinnaman) her man on the ground, with his bodyguard and right-hand woman Katana (Fukuhara) to protect him in case the team gets any ideas – there’s also an explosive implant in the neck. However, when the team finally arrives to Midway City, they soon realize things are way worse than they thought.

Suicide Squad has been highly anticipated since the first teaser that came out last year after Comic Con. But again, with all the craziness that came out before the film’s release like competing cuts and all the early negative reviews, the film went even more under the microscope. I personally wasn’t sold on Suicide Squad for awhile, but as it got closer to the release, I was looking forward to it and hoping it was good. Then I saw the film, and I have to say, it isn’t what I thought it would be. Even with the early negative reception from critics, Suicide Squad was always going to be a risk for the DC Extended Universe. It’s following villains that maybe some casual fans don’t know, it’s expecting you to root for them from the get-go, and it’s following Batman v Superman. Also, no matter what you thought the film was about, we had no idea what to expect.

MV5BMTA4NzQ1MDA0NzleQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDc0MTcwNDkx._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_

I did want to like Suicide Squad, and for the most part I liked it more than I thought I would. However, there is no denying the film does have a good chunk of issues. One of them is, unfortunately, an issue that Dawn of Justice had in editing. Thankfully, the film’s editing is better, but not by a lot. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are introduced at the beginning of the film, and then are reintroduced when Waller is making the rundown of who she wants on Task Force X. The introductions to the characters are a bit wonky, as it quickly rundowns what makes them so bad and then either jumps to how they were captured, or gives each other them – expect Slipknot, but come on, that’s not a spoiler – a vignette. I don’t mind the way they did it, but there were probably better ways of introducing the characters.

The pacing for the film is fine as it drives forward with action, expect there’s a random flashback that Harley has that derails the pacing the film had going. The other thing that pretty much kills the thin story, is Waller’s plan for the Suicide Squad, makes no sense. I won’t obviously spoil what her plan is, but once you see the whole scheme of things, you are left wondering what the hell was the point? Combine that with some of the other issues the film has, you start to see that there was some behind-the-scenes juggling going on. It also doesn’t help that film moves from set-piece to set-piece.

Once the Suicide Squad makes it to Midway City, the action kicks in. The action is great to watch, and besides the cast, is one of the best parts of the film. Seeing all these villains comes together and essentially be the good guys, or at least anti-heroes, to take down literally faceless monsters is a sight to watch. I would have liked to see the group go at it themselves, but they just kind of agree to be grouped together. The only ones that really go at it is Deadshot and Flag. Also, it would have been nice to see some of the action scenes that were cut, well any of the scenes really, from the film.

MV5BNzM5MjczODA1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUxNzA0OTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_

Speaking of the cast, the majority of the cast really works. I’ll admit, I had my doubts about Will Smith playing Deadshot. Not because I don’t like Smith, but because I don’t see Deadshot as a Will Smith character, but boy did he prove me wrong. Of course, Deadshot is played by Will Smith, so you just see Smith, but he’s still great in the role. Margot Robbie is one of the highlights of the film. Although it really is hard to judge considering this is Harley Quinn’s first time on the big screen, but Robbie is really great at Quinn. There were moments where I thought they took it just a notch over, but overall Robbie has set the bare high for any future Harley Quinn actresses.

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is, arguably, one of the most frightening characters in the whole film. That’s saying something considering what the film is filled with, but you believe Davis as Waller as this cut-throat, no nonsense agent who wants things done her way. The other highlight of the film for me is Jay Hernandez as Diablo. The character doesn’t do too much, but when you find out why it makes sense and makes him probably one of the most well-rounded characters in the film. The problem is that it takes time see what makes him tick and why he is the way he is, and it’s really disappointing.

MV5BMjA4OTczODM5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDk3NDY1OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_

The other characters really don’t do much. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag is okay, but it’s hard to see him taking command of a bunch of supervillains. Killer Croc, although looks great in the practical make-up, all he does is grunt and snarl at his team. He does speak in the film and it’s pretty humorous when he does, but still. Captain Boomerang is essentially the comedic relief of the film, and while I’m not a fan of Jai Courtney he does a pretty decent job here. Kudos does go to Karen Fukuhara as Katana, because this is Fukuhara’s first film and her Katana has some cool scenes in the film, but her character doesn’t do much in the film either. Cara Delevingne as June Moone/Enchantress is meh We don’t spend any time with June Moone, so we don’t really have any sort of connection to her. When it comes to Enchantress, the best scene is her first scene when she is formally introduced in a room full of government officials. That is saying a lot since she plays a very vital role in the film.

MV5BMTUxNDMzNTQ3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTUxNzA0OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1471,1000_AL_

Finally, Jared Leto’s The Joker. I know a lot of people were looking forward to Leto’s Joker from the first photo that was revealed. It also goes without saying that Leto’s Joker was always – no matter what anyone says – going to be judged against other Joker’s that came before him. It’s also unfair that he’s the first Joker after Heath Ledger’s great performance as The Clown Prince. I had my doubts about Leto’s Joker, and I hoped that he’d pull it off, but sadly he didn’t for me. Leto tried to do his own thing, while looking to pay some little homage to the Joker’s before, but it didn’t click for me. His little ticks and nuances came off as a little over-the-top, and ultimately doesn’t really do anything worthwhile in the film. We know now that Leto filmed more scenes as The Joker for the film that were cut – some even appear in the trailers, but not the film – but that isn’t a justification for shoehorning him into the film.

All in all, Suicide Squad isn’t a bad film like some critics are saying, but it isn’t a great film either, and you can see that Warner Bros. did have a hard time deciding what this film was going to be. Smith, Robbie, Hernandez and Davis are the highlights of the huge cast that could have gone wrong. There are some nice surprises in the film as well, but overall, Suicide Squad is really going to be one of those movies you either like or dislike. Personally, I’m indifferent to the film. I liked most of the film, but the issues of the film make the film bit disappointing as a whole because there was potential.

MV5BMTUyNDAwMjM0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzYxNzA0OTE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,934_AL_

Suicide Squad

3 out of 5