Movie Review: Furious 7

Note: This is your spoiler warning. I’m probably not going to hold anything back, so if you haven’t seen the movie and want to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now.
Furious 7

I’ve written previously about my love of the Fast and Furious franchise of movies and, with few reservations, the latest offering lives up to my expectations. Actually, it kind of exceeded them. I talked a bit about this on Episode 21 of Pale Blue Geek, but I want to go into a bit more depth.

I read a spoiler-free discussion of Furious 7 before I saw the movie and was aware, maybe to my detriment, that the cinematography was going to be a bit different than the other movies. Unfortunately, this was correct and my only real complaint about the movie was that some of the scenes, especially early on and during a later fight between Vin Diesel and Jason Statham, made me feel a bit ill. Not that they were gross or anything, but the camera work was a bit too much for me. I think that when I watch it again on a TV screen, it will have less of an impact. I am not a fan of the shaky cam at all and while it wasn’t really shaking all that much, there was so much movement that I had to look away a few times. But it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film, which was nice.

I do have one other complaint, which Amanda mentioned on the podcast. It is, to me, very minor and not even really a complaint. A lot of the dialogue was really cheesy, obviously some of it was cheesy on purpose and this was fine. Some of it was cheesy, possibly not on purpose and this was, well, also okay. I don’t mind giving the dialogue a pass — I do wish it could’ve been better (it should’ve been better, but the dialogue in Tokyo Drift was also very bad, so you know, it could’ve been worse), but I’m willing to forgive the movie it’s dialogue because, come on, it’s a F&F movie and all the important elements were still there.

Which leads us into the meat of this review. Honestly, I only have a few expectations for F&F movies — fast cars, things that make me laugh, explosions and family — lots of family. Furious 7 gave me all of these things — and then some awesomeness on top of that. The plot of the movie is simple enough — at the end of Furious 6 we find out who killed Han in Tokyo Drift, which is how Furious 7 starts. Jason Statham’s character, Deckard Shaw, is seeking revenge for the almost-killing of his little brother (the baddie from Furious 6). He shows up in Hobb’s office (Hobb is played by Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock) and there’s a really nice fight, but what Shaw discovers is Dom (Vin Diesel’s character) and his team. This starts him on a witchhunt to take down the F&F crew.

Bad things happen, Dom goes to Tokyo to bring Han home, we have cameos by the main Tokyo Drift kiddies (now adults, but still looking like the teenagers they were in Tokyo Drift. And then, somewhere along the way, Brian (the late Paul Walker) and Dom end up working for (and with) the government — the agent they work with isn’t Hobbs, he’s laid up in the hospital with his adorable daughter (we also have a nice cameo by Elsa Pataky’s Elena, who is still awesome and I wish she was in the movie more), instead it’s Kurt Russell, who is amusing and his own share of terrible lines.

There are handful of really good scenes between Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) which culminates in her leaving Dom, but Kurt Russell brings her back — because the team has to go being a heist movie. Their goal? To rescue a hacker, known only by the name Ramsey, and the computer program (think the Machine from Person of Interest), the hacker designed. The heist is pretty awesome and I won’t spoil that for you — but I will spoil the hacker for you. You see, when we (and Roman) think of hackers, we think of pasty white guys with nerdy glasses. But if there’s one thing you can trust about F&F it’s that they love to subvert stereotypes. Our hacker? IS A GIRL. SHE IS A GIRL and it is AMAZING. She’s snarky and brave and badass in her own hackery ways and she is SUPER fantastic. She’s played by British actress Nathalie Emmanuel and I love her SO MUCH.

So,they get Ramsey, but they don’t have the device she created and so they have to go to Abu Dhabi because of course they do. Stuff happens, fights happen (Letty gets to be awesome fighting other ladies YET AGAIN) and cars happen, because this is F&F of course. They get the device, they try to take down Shaw and fail (because of course he’s prepared, he’s not dumb). And it turns out that he’s teamed up with Tony Jaa* (Kiet) and Djimon Hounsou (Mose Jakande) who were Ramsey’s original kidnappers.

So now all the baddies are working together and so the crew decides to go back to the States and fight them on home turf. Drama happens. Things blow up. The good guys win and The Rock has a giant gun and I really wanted him to punch the drone, but he didn’t. And those are all the spoilers for the end of the movie because I have to leave something to the imagination.

That brings us to the very end of the film. Throughout the movie, you almost felt like Paul Walker’s Brian was going to die. That didn’t happen, some people think it would’ve been crass, I wouldn’t have minded. But what does happen is that Mia (Dom’s sister and Brian’s wife) is pregnant with the couple’s second child and they decide to give up racing/etc in favor of raising their family away from the violence of street racing/catching bad guys/etc. Obviously this isn’t the last of the F&F movies to be made, but it is the last for Paul Walker. So, after the lovely beach scene where the three is watching Brian, Mia and little Jack, we get a nice, long look at the faces of the crew. Everyone is really, really sad — because we’re leading into the tribute to the late Paul Walker.

Obviously I was already crying as soon as the beach scene started. It was heartbreaking (I was really upset when Paul Walker died in 2013, I can’t believe it’s been that long). So, at the end of the movie they had Dom drive off and then Brian catches up to him and is like, are you really going to leave without saying goodbye? And I’m sobbing so hard now, because of course I am. And then they drive off and we fade into clips of Brian in the previous movies and MY HEART HURTS, Y’ALL. It hurts. I cry too loud and I don’t care.

If you want to see gifs from the final scene, check out this link sent to me by my lovely dad.

For more on the new director of the movie, check out this link:

  • From Evil to Diesel: “Furious 7” Director James Wan on bringing insidious skills to an action franchise. (Fast Company/Co.Create)

So, what’s my verdict? Even if you haven’t seen any other F&F movies (which you should, if you haven’t), you can go see and totally enjoy Furious 7. It’s a fun ride (ha ha) and while the acting/etc isn’t the best, it’s hard to care about that. The end probably won’t impact you as much as those of us who’ve been watching from the beginning, but that’s okay, too. So, yes, GO SEE IT. What are you waiting for?

Furious 7

Furious 7

*Note about Tony Jaa. He’s Thai martial artist and while the rest of the fight scenes in F&F were enjoyable, his were magnificent. I really need to go watch more stuff with him in it because I really, REALLY loved watching him fight — especially since he spent most of his time fighting Brian (Paul Walker, a student double and/or his brother) who is not nearly as experienced. Imagine me swooning a tiny bit, okay?

The Fast and The Furious Franchise (or why Sarah loves these movies)

The Fast and The FuriousOver Easter/Passover weekend this year, my dad and I watched four of the seven F&F movies. Why? Well, because we could! Okay, that’s not entirely true. I can’t remember how the topic came up, but what I do know is that I read this link to my dad. It’s basically a girl who (like me) is trying to get her dad to give the F&F franchise a chance, which makes it even more fun that I read it to my dad. It must’ve worked, because on Thursday night (April 2) we sat down and watched The Fast and The Furious aka the first movie.It was really enjoyable, actually! And it’s been so long since I’ve watched all these movies, it was pretty great. But what made it even more fun was that I got to watch them with my dad, who’d never seen them before.

I made the executive decision that we would skip 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift (I’ll return to that one, though) in favor of all the Vin Diesel + Paul Walker movies. Which means we watched 1 and 4-6 and it was GLORIOUS. No, really. IT WAS. I cannot wait for Furious 7 (maybe sometime this week! hopefully!). But, the point at hand is why do I love these movies? You could go read that link above and that would explain a lot of it (most of it), but I want to add something.

You know, a lot of people grew up with the Harry Potter movies, they watched the kids grow up as they themselves did. And, in a way, that’s a tiny bit of how I feel about the F&F movies. Why? Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because back in 2001 I was living at home, I’d graduated from undergrad the previous year and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. And I basically saw all of these movies, most of them in the theater, as they came out. A friend of mine and I have gone to see a bunch of them, too. And every time they mention there’s going to be a new one, I get a little thrill.

When Paul Walker died, it was heartbreaking for me, as a fan (let’s not talk about how hard it hit the cast of the F&F movies), because I’d fallen in love with the found family of the F&F franchise. I liked these characters and their ridiculous and totally unrealistic antics. But at the same time the thing that binds them together — that makes these movies work even though they aren’t grounded in reality, is the whole theme of family — found family as the movies (and that link) explicit show us. The main characters of F&F are diverse in every way and they are all amazing and work together in such a fantastic way that they just make you root for them, even when they’re stealing cars and getting into fights.

Note: Spoilers for all the movies (except 7) in this paragraph. You can skip to the next one.

And so when we lose Letty in four (ignoring that she’s not really dead), it SUCKS. We lose Han in 3, but it doesn’t hurt as much as it will. Why? Because Han’s in 4-6. He’s THERE. He’s alive and he’s amazing. But in six he loses Gisele and that is awful and then we get that scene in the credits, which is “from” Tokyo Drift where we find out who and why Han was killed, it is equally terrible. Because we’ve grown to care for both Han and Gisele. Hey, at least Gisele wasn’t fridged, so we can be thankful of that fact. But it still sucks.

Note: End of spoilers.

I don’t know how they’re going to deal with Paul Walker’s death — I heard that they do a good job (there’s a link in next week’s post that talks a bit about it and maybe I’ll review the movie after I see it) and that’s all I can ask. It’s going to be hard — it was hard watching the first movie, to be honest, knowing that he’s dead. Actually, it was hard watching all of them know that Brian’s not going to be around for the ones after 7. That being said, if 7 is as enjoyable as people seem to think (at least so far) then I want more of them. Fast and Furious 6/Furious 6

I love the F&F franchise and why not? It’s big on everything I love (in an odd way, similar to all those John Woo movies I love: bromance, hijinks and two gun action, with the added bonus of totally awesome ladies). If you think the F&F movies are just dumb, bro-y, car movies, you’re wrong. Sure, they’ve got the scantily clad ladies and the big cars. But they also have ladies who are awesome, a SUPER diverse cast (who are also awesome) and a focus on what’s important — family. What’s not to love?

Go see the movies. Don’t be ashamed. You should love them as much as I do. They’ve got something for everyone. I promise. Also, where else can you see Vin Diesel and The Rock sharing the same screen and being bromancey? No where else. It’s worth it, just for the two of them (The Rock shows up in Fast Five). Go forth and enjoy!

Movie Review: Battleship

Friday (the 18th) night, a friend of mine and I went to see Battleship. Yes, the movie based on that game we used to play as a kid. The previews were all about things blowing up and I’m a big fan of these big disaster type movies (my favorites being The Day After Tomorrow and The Towering Inferno). On the scale of The Green Hornet to Gattaca (where GH is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen and Gattaca one of the best), Battleship falls somewhere in the middle, but toward the GH end. The main reason was because the first 10+ minutes (it felt like 20, or longer) was spent on character development for characters who I just didn’t care about. At all. I know, we need to know why Taylor Kitsch’s character behaves the way he does, we need to establish his relationship with Alexander Skarsgård (aka his brother), get him a love interest (Brooklyn Decker) and stoke up a rivalry with the Japanese captain. It just shouldn’t, you know, drag. And it did, a lot. That’s not say that it didn’t have it’s moments, but they didn’t make up for Taylor’s in ability to act, the lack of chemistry between Taylor and Brooklyn and the fact that Skarsgård was totally phoning it in (or trying way, way too hard). One or twice, I turned to my friend and asked her when things were going to start blowing up.

And then Battleship went up on the screen and we knew the action was going to begin. Sort of. It took a bit longer, but eventually things started to blow up and I totally (mostly) forgave the movie for making me sit through all that back story. Because, hot damn, those ships/aliens were awesome. The references to the game battle ship where hilarious, the movie was completely full of cliches, and the acting was, for the most part, pretty crappy. But then again, I was going to see an action movie for the sake of action and not Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or Midnight in Paris. But the best part of the movie happens when some ships get blown up and the Japanese captain suddenly becomes a central character. He is so kick ass and awesome. Up until that point, though, I was mostly interested in Rihanna’s character (strong, ass kicking woman who is totally fully clothed) and Jesse Plemons (aka Landry from FNL, who played the role of the adorable character you want to live, just because he’s so, well, adorable). And then, well, Tadanobu Asano (aka previous unnamed Japanese captain) managed to act the pants of of the rest of the cast. I don’t know if he did it on purpose or what, but damn, he was great.

In fact, I spent the rest of he movie hoping that he would survive, because it would be just my luck to like the one dude who was going to die before he movie ended. I won’t tell you what happens to him, but I loved his character a lot. I didn’t realize I actually knew him from Thor, so I really need to watch that movie again.

Was it worth the $10 I paid for the ticket? No.
Do I regret going to see it on opening night? No.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but don’t pay full price.

The aliens were awesome, the plot was lame, the things blowing up was pretty damn great and Tadanobu Asano made the whole thing worth while.