Two movies. Two reviews. Zero tolerance. Let’s get right into it. MINOR SPOILERS ahead. All roads lead to this, and this road leads to 5 more sequels. Well, at least […]
Two movies. Two reviews. Zero tolerance. Let’s get right into it. MINOR SPOILERS ahead.
Well, at least in this instance the trailers were honest. Fast & Furious 6 was exactly what I thought it would be, to the letter. It met my expectations with the precision of a neurosurgeon, the precision of a finely tuned Michael Bay explosion, or the precision of a LeBron James flop. Oh, you want more? Fine.
The problem with Fast Five being so successful is that the filmmakers’ only thought going into 6 was, “We have to go bigger!” This is the least creative, most brainless solution to the What do we do now? quandary, but it’s also the one that sells the most opening-weekend tickets, which is all Universal ultimately cares about. Fact is, bigger is NOT always better. In fact, it rarely is. It simply makes things more complicated.
What would they have to do in 6 that would be bigger than the “bank vault through the streets”? Wasn’t THAT crazy enough? Apparently not. Part 6 gives us more action (all on a larger scale), and enough new characters to make the third season of Game of Thrones envious. In my view, neither of these things works to the benefit of the film as a whole. I loved Fast Five, but was always nervous that upping the ante even more for 6 was going to result in my ability to suspend disbelief being, well, suspended. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened. We’ll get to what this means for part 7 a little later.
Let’s get the positives out of the way first. The movie is immensely entertaining. It’s probably the funniest movie in the series, even if some of that comedy comes at the expense of scenes that could’ve instead been used to reveal character. Yes, yes, I know, this movie doesn’t want to be anything other than big and stupid. Well, that’s not the impression you get when you read interviews with director Justin Lin and star/producer Vin Diesel, who love to emphasize the “mythology” they’re trying to create. Regardless, the entire primary “crew” is back, with the exception of Tego Calderon & Don Omar, who are strangely omitted after appearing in the last two F&F movies. Dwayne Johnson‘s Hercules Hobbs gets an expanded role, although his actions in this movie make it very difficult to believe he’s in any way affiliated with the U.S. government. He sort of lost me at the point where he goes rogue and points his gun at a British military officer. Luke Evans is the most important newcomer, and he’s good as Owen Shaw, the ex-British special forces main baddie, but this isn’t a villain that’s gonna be remembered in the long run. There hasn’t yet been a truly great villain in this series, and that doesn’t change here (quick, name three of the actors who played the villains in any of these movies!).
MMA badass Gina Carano makes her franchise debut as basically the female version of Hobbs, and his right-hand chick. I thought she was actually pretty decent in her feature acting debut last year in Soderbergh‘s underrated Haywire, but her performance here took a big dip south. I think wooden would be an accurate description. To be fair, she doesn’t have much to do from an acting standpoint, but even the basic stuff often comes across as forced. The big news is that Michelle Rodriguez makes her glorious return as Letty, and what I wasn’t expecting is that her reemergence (and Dom‘s raging desire to get her back, cuz she’s FAMILY, didn’t ya know) is the driving force for the entire plot of the movie. Amusing how Dom is willing to toss aside his beautiful Brazilian babe (Elsa Pataky) at the slightest hint that Letty might still be alive.
I have to wonder, how pissed was Jordana Brewster when she found out she had been completely minimalized to the role of babysitter while Paul Walker and the boys go off on more adventures?
The chemistry between the good guys is still one of the main draws to these movies, and you have to at least respect that this is easily the most diverse franchise Hollywood has going. By a long shot.
There are individual scenes worth liking here, such as the mano-a-mano with Shaw & Toretto in that abandoned parking lot. That was a cool scene up until the very end, where we get the stupid dueling sniper rifle red dots (seriously, how the F did Hobbs know where they were?).
Some of the action is pretty awesome. There’s one sequence in particular where we cut back and forth between two very intense and well-choreographed fistfights (one with Tyrese and Sung Kang against one of Shaw’s boys, and the other, a brutal catfight between Carano & Rodriguez). I also enjoyed the first car chase through the streets of London as Shaw gets away in his tiny “ramp car”. The rest of the action was, how shall we say…a bit much.
The negatives? In broad terms, the movie is too big and gaudy. It’s 80% spectacle and jokes, and 20% heart (which would be quality writing, character development, genuine drama). As expected, most of the action, while cool to look at, is completely ludicrous and unrealistic. People walk away unscathed from injuries no human should, people implausibly leap from vehicle to vehicle in nearly every action scene, and there is no concern shown for or acknowledgment of the massive loss of innocent human life (seriously, how many innocent people get crushed in their cars by that tank?). Finally, there are too many friggin characters.
As an example, the tank sequence. While it’s obviously fun to ponder, “What if there’s a tank?!”, the execution of that idea left something to be desired. It’s jaw dropping and fun to see how fast and easily the thing cuts through regular cars (which was done for real), but this irrevocably leads to the insanely idiotic method in which the heroes end up stopping it, which I couldn’t describe here if I tried. But how can you blame writer Chris Morgan once it was decided that they were gonna have a tank scene? How WOULD these characters stop a fuckin tank steamrolling down the highway? That’s a very difficult corner to write yourself out of. This is the problem when The Concept is more important than actually writing action that makes sense within the story you’re trying to tell. I don’t even understand why Shaw needed a tank to begin with.
Then, of course, there’s the now-infamous plane sequence. The pièce de résistance of this monstrosity is the 13-minute runway chase scene wherein the good guys try to stop the bad guys from escaping in a giant Russian plane. There are 3 or 4 different action scenes going on WITHIN this one giant action scene. It’s an avalanche of absurdity unrivaled in recent memory. There’s grappling hooks connected to cars & jeeps preventing the plane from taking off, people jumping from vehicle to vehicle, Hobbs jumping from a jeep onto the landing gear to board the plane, jeeps being lifted off the ground while people are fighting in the jeeps, and a hilarious tag team wrestling match onboard the plane that features a flying Vin Diesel head-butt. None of that is an exaggeration. I’m going cross-eyed just writing about it. But the funniest part is that the plane NEVER TAKES OFF during this entire ordeal. This runway. Never. Ends. Again, 13 minutes of a plane going more than 100mph down a runway, and the runway just goes on for infinity so the scene can play out. How the fuck did the filmmakers think this was something we were gonna ignore? Vulture estimates that in real life, this runway would have been 28.8 miles long [seriously, READ THIS], which is a goddamn LAUGH RIOT. For perspective, the actual longest runway in the world (somewhere in China) is 3.4 miles long. I mean, there are things you’re willing to ignore as an audience member, and then there’s THIS. There are things the filmmakers are allowed to ask us to believe…and then there’s THIS. We could’ve done an entire post about the ridiculosity of this sequence. And yes, ridiculosity is now a word. Deal with it, Mirriam-Webster.
If this were a full review, I could do 1,000 words on all the other nitpicks and plot holes, but I don’t have the energy.
One thing that annoyed me is how often I was able to figure out what action scene was coming next because the trailers give away literally every action sequence in the movie. Depending on what characters were where, I’d be in my seat thinking, “Here comes the part where the two girls fight by the staircase. Here comes the tank sequence. Here comes the big plane sequence.” Of course there were surprises within each action scene, but there was no suspense with regards to the kind of scene I was about to watch. The trailers for this movie were the definition of “showing too much” and directly impacted my ability to enjoy the finished film. That’s a shame.
Yes, there is a bonus scene at the beginning of the end credits which efficiently sets up Fast & Furious 7 (or whatever the hell it’ll be called) based on some of the events in Tokyo Drift. If you’ll recall, Tokyo Drift, the third movie in the series, was to this point the last movie in the timeline. And no, I’m not going to explain why (though sadly, I could). Suffice to say, we’ve finally caught up to that point in the timeline, and part 7 will take place after the events of Tokyo Drift. The internet spoiled this weeks ago, but yes, Jason Statham will be the big villain in part 7. What the hell his beef is with Toretto I have no clue. I’m sure it’ll be something to the effect of, “Owen Shaw was my military buddy. You killed him, now you’re gonna PAY!” RAAR!!!
Where does the series go from here?
Good question! How on Earth do you GO BIGGER after Fast & Furious 6? I feel like we’re quickly (and furiously) approaching the point where we get to Fast & Furious in Space, particularly with the gravity-defying acts we witness in Furious 6. Do they have a massive crossover and put these guys in The Avengers 2? Because I’m pretty sure Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs could take The Hulk. And I mean the green Hulk, not Bruce Banner. Nick Fury should definitely be sending a S.H.I.E.L.D. representative to the Toretto household, since Dom can apparently brush off major impact injuries easier than Captain America. Maybe they should put Vin Diesel and the boys in Star Wars: Episode VII, and they can fly X-Wings instead of drive fast cars. I’m kidding of course, but not really.
At what point does the U.S. government officially hire these people and create the Toretto Division of the FBI? Why shouldn’t we send these guys over to Pakistan to chase down terrorists? There has to be an underground rickshaw racing culture over there that our heroes can jump into. I believe these are reasonable questions, but thankfully, I don’t have to write these movies.
I mean, what the fuck is Bad Guy Jason Statham possibly planning that’s bigger than what we’ve just experienced? Or will they finally take the scale of the action down a couple notches? Yeah right.
If you were wondering, Universal has fast-tracked 7 Fast 7 Furious for next July, forgoing the typical year-in-between each film that’s been the pattern since 2009. Aside from pure greed, I really don’t know what the rush is, but they’ve already suffered one creative casualty, as director Justin Lin refused to come back on such a short timetable. Good for him, I say (though he says he would’ve taken a break after 6 regardless of the timetable). Time to move on, sir. I think 4 of these is quite enough for one director. Instead, the 7th installment will be directed James Wan, whose claim to fame is the first Saw movie and another popular horror movie I have no desire to see, Insidious. I’ll give him some credit; he did also make 2007’s Death Sentence, which was a fun little revenge movie with Kevin Bacon. Other than that, he has no experience with action films that I can see, so this should be interesting. I believe the franchise finally jumped the shark in part 6, so I’m going into 7 with very low expectations. I believe the series has finally reached its expiration date, but so long as people continue showing up in droves, and Paul Walker & Vin Diesel continue to say “yes”, why should they stop making them? It appears only the marketplace will determine when this unlikeliest of franchises reaches its conclusion.
It’s amazing now to recall that Justin Lin, who has helmed every F&F movie since Tokyo Drift and spent the last 8 years of his life on this franchise, started out as the director of 2002’s microbudgeted “Asian Mean Streets” Better Luck Tomorrow. I remember seeing that in theaters (I have a plaque stating I’m number 133 of 470) and enjoying it. I’d like to see what else he can do besides spectacular vehicular mayhem, and he certainly has the clout right now to do just about anything he wants next. Variety did an excellent profile on Lin that I think is worth your time. Check that out HERE.
Where does Furious 6 rank in the entire series? How the fuck do I know. Seriously. They’re all becoming a blur at this point. It’s better than 2 Fast 2 Furious, that’s for damn sure. That will always be the worst in show for this franchise. 6 is probably second or third to last in the series. I couldn’t say for sure until I watched Tokyo Drift again. The evolution of this franchise has been fascinating to behold. I think an interesting experiment would be to take someone who hasn’t seen any of these movies, show them The Fast and the Furious (that’s the original film, in case you’re confused), then skip the middle 4 movies, and show that person Fast & Furious 6 and get their reaction. I imagine it would go something like this, “WHAT THE FUUUUUUCK? HOW THE FUUUUUCK? How did they go from THERE…to HERE!!!???!!!” I’ve seen all 6 movies and I’ve been asking myself the same question.
For now, my recommendation is that Fast & Furious 6 is worth seeing on the big screen if you’re a fan of the series. You’re going to find something to enjoy here. If you’ve long since grown tired of these movies, this one will not reverse that inclination.
IMDb Rating: 7/10
Precision BiggieScale Rating: 6.75/10
Biggie’s Consideration: Best Original Score, Original Song (“We Own It”), Stuntwork, Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing
I don’t have too much to say about The Hangover: Part III that I didn’t cover in my seminal review of The Hangover: Part II. Yes, they ditched the “wake up hung over and try to figure out what happened” structure from the first two movies, but the result of a new idea shows just how dry this “franchise” was after the first movie. I was outspokenly against any sequel being made to The Hangover ever since word of a potential follow-up broke after the first film became a smash hit. Unfortunately, the studio can’t not try and make a sequel to something that successful, particularly in today’s franchise-heavy moviemaking climate. It’s gotten so bad now that we’re at the point where it isn’t whether or not you can make a sequel to a surprise hit, instead it’s Can we get a trilogy out of this? How about a spinoff? A prequel, perhaps? Well, they dragged a trilogy kicking and screaming out of the original Hangover, and in doing so have nearly ruined the positive feelings I (and many of you, I’m sure) had about that film.
As it turns out, most of the reviews were deadly accurate in their assessments. The Hangover: Part III may be different than its predecessors, but it just isn’t that…funny. Yeah, I chuckled quite a bit, but I was never howling with laughter, I was never in tears laughing, and I wasn’t flying my ROFLcopter around the theater. It’s not creatively bankrupt in the same way Part II was, but it’s still creatively bankrupt. The Hangover was hilarious and original, The Hangover: Part II was shockingly unoriginal but pretty damn funny, and The Hangover: Part III is unoriginal and only somewhat amusing. Note to all writers and filmmakers: this is not the progression that you should be looking for in your sequels. The worst thing is that the funniest part of Part III is the bonus scene that pops up about 30 seconds into the end credits. Again, not a good sign, but if you force yourself into a theater to see this movie, stick around once the credits start.
You could almost say that Part III isn’t even a comedy. It’s more like a crime drama with a lot of mediocre jokes in it. This whole thing with John Goodman‘s random crime lord trying to get back his $20 million in gold bars thing is as arbitrary a plot hook as one could imagine. It doesn’t feel right putting these characters in that world. I guess it’s a parallel to the ridiculous escalation of circumstance in Fast & Furious 6. You’ll wonder, why are these people involved in this?
The best parts of the movie are that bonus scene like I mentioned, and the two scenes where Zach Galifianakis and Melissa McCarthy spark an oddball romance. Other than that, I can barely recall any of the jokes as I write this a mere 4 hours after walking out of the theater. As usual, the movie looks great because Todd Phillips is a talented director, but again I found this particular plot to be a very strange way for this series to end. Pretty much all of the previous cast members are back, with the exception of Mike Tyson (though I’m sure they desperately tried to find a way to squeeze him in there). I was happy when Ken Jeong‘s role as Mr. Chow was expanded in Part II. Well, that was two years ago, before Ken Jeong Fatigue had set in. In Part III, he has almost as much screen time as Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifiankis. That’s not a good thing. Seriously, Ken Jeong needs to go into a 5-year semi-retirement to reevaluate his career. Or just to give us all a fuckin break. I really don’t care what his reasoning is. I am so sick of this guy right now. I’ve never seen a comedic actor wear out his shtick this fast (actually, Mr. Galifianakis’ act is almost as tiresome at this point, but at least he’s not so blunt). Maybe this is Michael Bay‘s fault. After what Bay allowed Jeong to do in the last Transformers travesty, I called him more of a “crazed chimp” than a human being. The fact that Mr. Chow is essentially the McGuffin of this movie (aka “the thing all the characters are after” for you noobs) is mind-numbing. It’s as if nobody in Hollywood realizes just how played out Mr. Jeong’s act is.
This doesn’t mean Part III is bad per se, but it is blatantly obvious that they had to reeeeaaaallllyyyy scrape the bottom of the barrel to dig up story ideas here. It’s not boring, and it’s relatively painless at 110 minutes, but there isn’t anything happening here that’s above average in any way. As you watch The Hangover: Part III, the only thing you can think is how unnecessary its existence truly is. Suffice to say no one will remember anything about this movie 10 years from now. The only people that will have fond memories of it are the people profiting immensely from its box office grosses. It’s sad when otherwise creative and talented people get stuck wasting years of their lives chasing money on subpar sequels like this. At least Todd Phillips found time to make Due Date in between the first two Hangovers. But let’s assess the good news; The Hangover saga is done, and Todd Phillips can move on to something else (he’s circling several projects, but hasn’t committed to his next movie yet). Bradley Cooper can go back to being in every other movie for the next 3 years, Ed Helms can continue trying to make a hit that doesn’t have Hangover in the title, and Zach Galifianakis can continue playing the aloof, unstable, bearded fat guy another half-dozen times.
That’s all I got. The Hangover: Part III is the final movie in this series, or as I’m gonna call it from now on: The Trilogy That Should Not Be. The tagline on the posters reads “THE EPIC FINALE TO THE HANGOVER TRILOGY”, which may be the funniest joke connected to this film. There is nothing epic about this movie. I still adore the first Hangover (it’s probably one of my 15 favorite comedies ever), but I’ll never be able to watch that movie again without being reminded of the foul stench the second two movies have placed on it. As I said in my Part II review, from now on I will try to remember The Hangover fondly on its own and refuse to acknowledge the existence of its sequels.
IMDb Rating: 6/10
Precision BiggieScale Rating: 6.3/10
Biggies Consideration: None. I don’t give out an award for Most Desperate Attempt to Seize The Audience’s Money.
MAN OF STEEL, SAVE US FROM THIS MEDIOCRITY!!! I BEG YOU!!!
Okay, okay, here’s another one: