Tag Archives: Paul Walker

Furious 7

Although it’s a step down from Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7 is still a tonne of incredible fun.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

f&f7Watching the film critic community slowly come around to the Fast & Furious series has been almost as fun as watching the evolution of the Fast & Furious series or, in fact, watching these movies themselves.  See, with the obvious exception of 2 Fast 2 Furious – which failed because, as the title alone probably tips you off to, it tried force its ridiculous cheesiness in a cynical way instead of with the sincerity that the rest of the franchise has – this series has always at least been good.  The Fast and the Furious is a perfectly watchable movie, if a little self-serious, the strangely-maligned Tokyo Drift would still be the series high-watermark if it didn’t have the problem of Lucas Black being near-incapable of acting, and I like Fast & Furious shut up.

Fast Five was the moment where the rest of the critical world sat up, took notice and collectively realised that these are some damn fine movies worthy of legitimate appraisal, likely helped by the fact that it’s still one of the best action movies released this decade – a lightning-in-a-bottle moment where all of the unintentional hard work in constructing this world and these characters paid off in spectacular fashion, whilst still working as a brilliant action film in its own right.  Also it’s a heist movie and, as science can prove, good heist movies are better than pretty much anything else ever.

Fast & Furious 6 couldn’t hope to match up, although it gave it its best damn shot by once again changing genres.  In fact, there’s another reason why this series has been great.  In addition to its knowing but completely sincere silliness – I mean, this is a series whose main emotional and thematic through-line is about the unbreakable power of a surrogate family of friends with no knowing winking or under-cutting of said, after all – and its surprisingly deep and well-drawn cast of characters, the series is never afraid to simply change genres at the drop of a dime.  The Fast and the Furious was a Point Break riff, 2 Fast was a bad buddy-cop movie, Tokyo Drift was basically a coming-of-age drama, Fast & Furious was a good buddy-cop movie shut up, Fast Five was a heist movie, and Fast & Furious 6 was a gloriously ridiculous action movie.

So, following on from all of that, Furious 7 turns out to be… Fast & Furious 6 again, sorta.  In its defence, save for space or trans-dimensional hopping – which are both gold ideas, you can have those for free, Universal – there really isn’t anywhere else left to take this series, except to make the ridiculous action movie even more ridiculous.  With the change in directors, though, from Justin Lin to horror movie veteran James Wan, you’ll have to forgive me for hoping for more of a shift than “bigger and crazier”, an admittedly welcome injection of extra melodrama, and more camera tricks for certain action sequences.

That being said, though, the fact that Furious 7 is still an incredibly fun and surprisingly coherent film is a goddamn miracle considering its troubled and beleaguered production.  In fact, let’s address that room elephant right now: it’s amazing just how well the film manages to work around the death of franchise star Paul Walker and the necessary requirement to write the character of Brian O’Conner out of the series.  I even spent a lot of the runtime sat there in the cinema trying to figure out where exactly the re-writes and stand-ins had started occurring, expecting it to be really obvious relatively early, but the way they do it is so natural and so keeping in kind with what they had set up before – Brian is adjusting somewhat reluctantly to domesticated family life with Mia (Jordana Brewster) and his son Jack, missing the life-or-death adrenaline that came from working with Dom – that it gains this extra eerie undertone that adds to the subplot’s weight instead of distracting from it.

Admittedly, it goes overboard near the ending, as the film proceeds to send off Brian and Paul in the most openly manipulative, cheese-ball way, but I would be lying to you if I told you that was a bad thing and that I didn’t shed multiple tears as it happened.  Open heart-on-sleeve affectionate sincerity is how Fast & Furious operates, so the really on-the-nose way that it waves goodbye to Paul Walker is still fitting even if it is admittedly excessively manipulative.  Also helped by the fact that, with the exception of one fight scene late in the game and the last sequence, I honestly could not tell where the real Paul Walker’s scenes finished and his stand-in-CG-combo double started.

And whilst I’m not spending the rest of this review making worrying sounds that approximately translate to how much I enjoyed this movie, I must note that the film is more than a little overcrowded.  In addition to having Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) crew relentless pursued by the brother of Fast & Furious 6’s Owen Shaw, Deckard (Jason Statham), who is looking for vengeance, the crew are tasked by a possibly-government-affiliated division, headed up by a guy who calls himself Mr. Nobody (a positively-beaming Kurt Russell), to recover a super-surveillance software called “God’s Eye” for them before it falls into the hands of an evil warlord (Dijimon Hounsou) with the promise of Dom getting to use it to hunt down Deckard when all is said and done.

Consequently, Hounsou’s warlord feels… pointless, to be frank, and he doesn’t even get any memorable material to make up for that fact.  There’s a lot of relatively unnecessary flab to proceedings, characters that walk in and walk out as required without much to do.  On the positive side, Kurt Russell’s visibly joyous performance is infectious and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) makes a nice addition to the crew if she’s sticking around.  On the negative side, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is side-lined for too much of the film for my liking, although that does let the focus return to Dom and Brian which is fitting, and Rhonda Rousey shows up quite literally just so that Michelle Rodriguez has somebody to fight because, hey, why not try to recapture those brilliant Gina Carano fight scenes from number 6?  Fast Five had a similar excessive nature but did a better job at juggling everything without giving many characters the short shrift.

So, with that negativity and elephant-addressing out of the way…  HOHOHOHOHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Oh, folks, words can’t truly express how much fun I had with this one!  The Fast & Furious series just taps into a kind of primal adolescent joy for me, where everything to do with the action runs purely on Rule of Cool and a desire to be stupidly entertaining, which makes it one of the purest expressions of childlike imaginative fun on film today.  I cackled with maniacal glee at this movie multiple, multiple goddamn times and every time I thought that they’d topped themselves, they proceeded to surpass that bar with ease.  (Whether you agree depends on how much you like your glaringly obvious CGI, although I gave it a pass as I saw it as a stylistic choice.)

On that note, Deckard Shaw.  Now, technically, he’s a victim of the film’s overstuffed nature, since he has to share screen-time with Hounsou’s uninteresting warlord and therefore suffers from alternating too often between being the primary and secondary villain.  However, I honestly like the fact that he’s not really got much of a personality outside of the opening scene of the film – which, for the record, is fingertips away from Fast Five for me in “Best Opening Sequence of This Series” stakes – and I really like the way that he just keeps turning up randomly as our heroes are about to complete their objectives to throw a spanner in the works, like a one man army of TimeSplitters.  He also gets a fantastic pair of fights with Hobbs and Dom, with the latter including a climax that is AMAZINGLY DUMB, so I’m satisfied.

Fight scenes are a lot of fun, even though James Wan and his team of editors have an unfortunate tendency to cut just a little too often.  Tony Jaa is in this and gets to fight Brian with both instances delivering very nicely, the Rousey/Letty fight might not measure up to either Carano fight but is still pretty good and I once again appreciate a Hollywood film with a female fight scene where the aim is not primarily to be intentionally arousing, and the fight scene between Hobbs and Deckard is already a strong contender for the best of the year.  Though he may cut a bit too often, Lin is also a man of style, employing 360° camera pans and a camera that keeps the person it’s shooting vertically-centred but spins the rest of the world around them as normal (I can’t describe it well but it’s self-explanatory in motion) to sparing but enjoyable effect.

You may notice that I’ve talked minimally about the film’s many gloriously deranged action sequences up to this point and, surprising no-one, this is intentional.  I went into Furious 7 knowing pretty much next to nothing about what it would end up doing in said ridiculous action scenes.  This is the optimum way to watch Furious 7.  After all, why should I tell you how a last minute rescue made me laugh maniacally, how the end to one fight scene is officially the new “Most Wonderfully Dumb Thing to Happen In This Glorious Franchise”, how the Abu Dhabi payoff manages to overcome its CGI nature to still be one of the most entertaining setpieces I will likely see all year, or even allude to how the finale goes, when you can experience these things in glorious context properly?  Why should I spoil them for you when I went got to see them near-totally fresh?

Don’t, however, assume that the character work has gotten lost in the shuffle.  It’s all still here – Letty is still struggling with her amnesia, there’s Brian’s conflict with domesticity, and Roman wants to be taken more seriously as a part of the team – but the time delegated to just them is more reduced than it was in Fast Five or Fast & Furious 6.  That said, these characters are all so strongly drawn and defined that any scene of them just bouncing off of one another is a joy to watch, and the action scenes take the time to put in multiple character beats instead of just being pure noise, the car skydive is a particularly great example.  The new additions, again with the exception of the warlord, make great strong impressions and slide neatly into the world that screenwriter Chris Morgan – who has penned this franchise since Tokyo Drift – has created.

Most importantly, that silly heart-on-sleeve sincerity never leaves the film’s side.  Not even for a minute.  This is what separates the Fast & Furious movies from your lesser dumb blockbusters like, say, Transformers.  Films like Transformers clearly hate their own existence almost as much as they hate the audience for turning up to them, so their dumbness is built on bitterness and cynicism, a desire to slap together a whole bunch of loud explosions in as lazy a fashion as possible to extract cash from an audience it reads as gullible walking wallets.  The Fast & Furious series, however, has love for itself and love for its audience.  It sincerely believes that your surrogate family is the strongest bond that one could have, that throwing cars at problems really is the best way to solve everything, and that the audience isn’t wrong for finding this all to be f*cking awesome because it correctly agrees that this is all f*cking awesome.  So it puts effort into every scene, every stupid action sequence, every ridiculous pre-fight exchange, every character’s relationship with one another.

There’s love, genuine love and it doesn’t undercut that at any point.  That’s why, when it comes time to say goodbye to Paul Walker and the character of Brian O’Conner, I proceeded to cry like nobody’s business, because it earned it.  This is a series that earns its emotional release and its heart because it puts tangible love into every single frame.  Yeah, it’s a dumb series about flinging cars at ridiculous problems until they stop being problems!  It’s more f*cking sincere and heartfelt than the majority of last year’s so-called “prestige” pictures!  And even though it doesn’t scale the heights of Fast Five and has its share of structural problems, Furious 7 is still a damn fantastic time at the cinema, another excellent instalment in the blockbuster series that all other blockbuster series should strive to reach for – not even mentioning its majorly diverse cast – and the perfect tribute to one of the series’ main stars.

Goddammit, I love this wonderful series.

Callum Petch coins phrases to trigger dollars.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

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Brick Mansions

Although there’s little here if you’ve seen District 13, Brick Mansions still sufficiently justifies its existence with fun lead turns and a rejiggered finale.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

brick mansionsFilms like Brick Mansions primarily exist because studios (depressingly rightly, I must add) believe that people from English-speaking countries don’t want to watch perfectly serviceable and exciting action films in foreign languages.  As a result, any time that such a film is released and does reasonably well, a countdown clock practically appears above its head to the inevitable English-language remake; oftentimes ridiculously similar to the original to boot because “Hey, it’s not like anybody except snobby film students will have seen the original, right?  It’s not like they’re going to notice!”  That’s not to say that they’re always bad films, after all they are often ripping straight from great damn movies, but it does mean that they often fail to justify their own existences.

Some of those films, however, decide to alter the source material in certain ways.  Sometimes that involves Americanising the product to supposedly make it more palatable to audiences, sometimes it involves altering certain plot twists and plot points in an attempt to “out-do” the original.  Usually, all this serves to do is lower the resulting product; yeah, it now has a reason for existing but it’s also kinda lost what made the source material entertaining in the first place.  Brick Mansions, a remake of a 2004 French action film by the name of District 13,tries both, applying American action film techniques to the original’s parkour-focussed setpieces and futzing about with what was a perfectly great and usable final half hour.  The result, yes, does make the film inferior to the original but it still copies, and leaves well enough alone, enough of the things that made District 13 work to make a very fun action film for people who may not have seen the original.

So, the year is 2018 and Detroit has been classed as the single most dangerous and crime-ridden city in America (people from Detroit, feel free to crack your self-deprecatory jokes about the ludicrousness of this premise now, we’ll wait).  In response, the city’s authorities walled off a particularly troublesome section of the city, rechristened it Brick Mansions and left it to its own devices.  Well, until the leader of the area’s drug trade, Tremaine (RZA, who will henceforth be referred to in this review by a different one of his many aliases each time he comes up), somehow acquires a nuclear bomb that will detonate in 12 hours and blow Brick Mansions off the face of the Earth.  Enter undercover detective Damien Collier (the late Paul Walker) who is assigned the task of breaking into Brick Mansions in order to disarm the bomb, along with his own personal mission of getting revenge on Tremaine, who killed his father.  He’s paired with Leno (David Belle in the exact same role he played in the original), seemingly the only honest citizen in Brick Mansions, and who also holds a grudge against Tremaine for kidnapping his ex-girlfriend (Catalina Denis).

As those who have seen the original will already be able to tell, this is pretty much the same set-up as that for District 13 and, for about the first hour, events progress as they did in that film with little deviation.  Tremaine is still quick to kill anybody who proves themselves to be the slightest bit useless, Leno and Damien still have a slow-burn burgeoning respect for one another and the pre-plot prologue for Leno is pretty much the exact same as before.  The time-span has been considerably shrunken down (there’s no six month time-skip in addition to that reduced detonation timer), K2’s (here named Big Cecil) role has been down-sized to the point of near-irrelevance with the majority of his material instead being given over to a new, possibly-lesbian female bodyguard by the name of Rayza (it’s that kind of film, folks, get with the program), Lola (the new name for Leno’s ex-girlfriend) is more pro-active in trying to escape seeing as she’s no longer a junkie and there’s Damien’s reason for wanting Tremaine to go down, but other than that it’s basically the same first hour, plot-wise.

Yes, I do realise that I basically just spent an entire paragraph listing a whole bunch of changes.  They’re incidental to the main story, the same beats are still hit by both films, so my point still stands.

The biggest change to how the film feels comes when it’s time for action scenes to happen which, this being a 90 minute on-the-dot action film, tends to happen quite a fair bit.  District 13 shot its action scenes clearly, lots of wide-angles with longer takes and more distant shots in order to set up a good sense of scale and to better display what its actors are doing.  Brick Mansions is an American film, however, and so most of the action scenes are shot in handheld shaky-cam with very conspicuously cheap CG, quick takes and lots of close-ups; not enough to be incomprehensible but enough to clearly stifle the impact of most of the sequences like Leno’s opening escape from Tremaine’s men.  Perhaps to compensate for this, most of the parkour has been stripped out of the film.  Instead, there’s a bit more variety with more fight scenes and a car chase or two thrown into the equation.  The suffocating shooting and editing keep them from becoming memorably great but they’re all fun, they’re all well-paced and they’re mostly exciting.

In fact, fun is what I would most characterise Brick Mansions.  Much like District 13, this is a film that knows just how silly it is and never fails to embrace that silliness.  Even though the propulsive French electro score that backed the original has been jettisoned for Generic Hollywood Action Thriller Score #173, every action scene is paced and filled with beats designed more to make you laugh and feel like you’re having a good time than to be played serious.  An early action scene for Damien involves him chasing down Morris O’Brien from 24 by clinging onto the back of his car as it speeds through downtown traffic late at night, for example.  Dialogue, meanwhile, is very knowingly silly and trashy, all quippy one-liners and tenuously linked villainous monologues and having certain characters angrily proclaim that somebody has “gone soft” when they “pussy out” on something.  We’re not operating at Fast & Furious levels of fun camp here, even if, again, the main crux of the plot involves the disarming of a nuclear bomb, but it’s got that kind of breezy and easy-to-get-swept-up-in easy-going nature which is nice to see in an action film, nowadays.

In that respect, Paul Walker was a very canny casting choice for the lead role.  He brings the same natural charm and laidback charisma that he brought to the Fast & Furious franchise by, basically, playing the straight man to the mayhem around him.  David Belle gets to be the cool badass capable of ridiculous feats, Bobby Digital needs to be a hammy old-school Bond villain, Morris @’Brien from 24 has to be a really hammy old-school Bond villain and Aylia Issa as Rayza pretty much just plays psycho-lesbian, so Walker is kinda forced into Straight Man by default.  He is great, though; the man knew how to time his quips or how to adequately express his disbelief at events unfolding with a non-verbal rolling of the eyes or terrified “OH CRAP!” facial reaction and he puts them to good use, as well as striking up a very natural chemistry with Belle.  If this was going to be Walker’s career trajectory after Fast & Furious wound down, then it’s an extra shame that we lost him, really, because he is a very good fit for this kind of film.

That’s not to say this is totally Walker’s show, though.  Even with a very noticeably dubbed-in voice, Belle is a capable enough co-lead.  He never flubs any line readings, there’s the aforementioned chemistry with Walker and he’s got a good screen presence.  Carlo Rota (who I keep unprofessionally referring to as Morris O’Brien from 24 because I’m horrible like that) makes a very good impression with his short screen time, getting the chance to indulge in all of his hammiest impulses.  And as for The King Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah?  Yeah, he’s pretty great.  The film futzes with its last half hour in a way that really shouldn’t work but Rzarector manages to force it into working by sheer willpower and charisma.  But even before that comes around, Prince Rakeem still puts in good fun work, he even manages to make a clunky shoehorning in of a reference to one of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most notable hits come off… not as horrifically awkward as it could have.

Speaking of Bobby Boulders, there is a reason why I keep noting that the first hour is mostly the same as that of District 13’s.  See, Brick Mansions decides that the outcome of District 13 is not good enough for it and rejiggers a lot of the last half hour.  Anybody who has seen District 13 will probably have all the alarm bells going off, right now, cos I know I did when it started happening but I should note that, weirdly, it kinda works.  Again, this is primarily thanks to the work of The Razor but it’s also because it still sticks to the tone of both the film up to that point and the original film it’s based on.  That non-cynical, ridiculous yet charming and feel-good ending still exists, but the path to get there is altered and waylaid in order to get the message (which District 13 did have but mostly left content to bubble under the surface) across in a much louder and more obvious context.  More cynical viewers will instead see it as the film trying to shoot down any possible claims of it being racist (this is a film in which two white guys beat their way across a neighbourhood of villains who happen to be predominately black) and it reeeeally stretches past the point of believability, but it somehow worked because the tone stayed consistent and some anvils need dropping every now and again.

That being said, Brick Mansions is not some kind of masterwork, it’s not some super important movie and it’s nowhere near being better than the original, mainly down to the action scenes being filmed in that one bad way that Hollywood knows how to shoot action scenes and which we really should stop encouraging by this point.  What it is, though, is a fast, light and fun action romp that doesn’t have a bad bone in its body and a very good set of lead performances.  If you have seen District 13, there’s little for you here unless you’re dying to see the futzed around-with-finale.  If you haven’t and you don’t want to because subtitles, or you have and you just want a fun way to kill 90 minutes, than Brick Mansions really is worth your time.  It just about justifies its existence.

Callum Petch is causing more family feuds than Richard Dawson.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Fast & Furious 6

2418_FPT_00038RV3.JPGIn honour of our main review, this week’s podcast is both fast (coming it at under an hour) and furious (well, one of us is a little peeved). We not only review the 379th film released this year starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Fast & Furious 6), but James even recaps the series for all of you who have missed out so far. Apart from the really rubbish ones.

Owen and James then wax lyrical and slightly homoerotic about Ryan Gosling, and his brilliant performance in The Place Beyond the Pines. Steve is impressed by a little-heard of gem called The Man From Earth, and Gerry revisits the genius of Four Lions.

Somehow we also manage to fit in some news from the Cannes Film Festival, recommendations on what to watch this week, and probably insult another major portion of our listeners. We usually do.

Tune in next week as we induct Studio Ghibli into the Corridor of Praise.

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Film Face/Off: Fast & Furious 6

The first of a new series where two of our writers thrash out a film disagreement with only their wits and spell check to assist them. To the death!

Fast & Furious 6

fast-furious-6-dwayne-johnson

Owen Hughes is a big dumb action fan (interpret that how you wish), but even he has standards.

Now I’m as big a fan of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in action movies as the next guy. He’s great in the earlier stuff like Welcome to the Jungle and Walking Tall, as well as more recently in films like Faster and GI Joe: Retaliation. Considering he’s in about a hundred films released this year, it’s not really that surprising then that not all of them can be hits. Some of them, such as Fast & Furious 6, had to be misses.

Maybe it’s because I’ve only ever seen the first film in the series and none of its sequels that I didn’t like F&F6? Maybe it takes time to warm to the annoying, one dimensional, unfunny characters and their slapstick comedy mixed with flailing one-liners?

I didn’t really expect the film to be any different to what it was. I’d seen the seven minute or so long preview that shows an edited version of the tank scene twice already when it was shown before Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I wasn’t hugely impressed (“we need a plan b, c, d, a whole other alphabet”. Sigh.) Although, in the context of what’s happening with the plot – I use the term ‘plot’ loosely – that action set piece does work fairly well. If you could remove some of the horrendous snappy one-liners, I might even have said it worked rather well.

In fact, most of the action bits which punctuate every scene like an unnecessary exclamation mark are handled well. No less well than you’d expect, but ‘well’ all the same. You have people leaping from one car onto another, fighting on planes, some very pretty shots of London as cars race through the brightly lit streets at night. Can’t really argue with that.

However, it has virtually no substance. The Rock tries his best, but the cast are just charisma vacuums. Vin Diesel’s face has about 3 muscles in it; one to control his bottom lip to allow him to mumble and one which allows his thick leathery forehead to force his eyelids down so he can blink/sleep. The final muscle pulls back the corner of his mouth so you can tell when he’s happy/satisfied/pleased with himself. The rest of his face does. not. move. If they ever plan on remaking The Terminator…

I bloody love big dumb action films usually. We’ve all heard of the phrase “so bad it’s good”, and whether you agree with that term or not, there’s some truth to it. A film can be so intentionally stupid that it somehow becomes quite entertaining. But there’s a line to how dumb and how big an action film can be before it does a full 360 turn and goes back to being just dumb. F&F6 is one of those movies; one of the most ridiculous, lame, downright stupid movies I’ve seen in the cinema all year. It was trying so hard to have fun that it felt forced and meant I wasn’t having fun at all during it. The most excited I got during the film was at the end credits with a certain cameo. Why? I’ve no idea because I don’t really plan on watching the sequel!

Fast and furious 6James Diamond is a passionate new convert to the cause of the Fast and Furious franchise, and is off to Tokyo to learn the ancient art of drifting.

Until this week I hadn’t seen a single Fast and/or Furious film, and in a disturbing turn of events I have now seen three of them. That’s half the series. I had always dismissed these films as Top Gear for teenagers. Big dumb car crashes, terrible acting, and that awful music that young people listen to. (You know, anything made after 1998.) Luckily, my obsessive and completest nature decreed I needed to make a dent in the franchise before we reviewed Fast & Furious 6 on this week’s podcast. Spending so long in such a short space of time with these ‘characters’ had an odd effect on me. I grew fond of them.

The thing is, it’s impossible to judge the true value of Fast & Furious 6 in isolation from the rest of the series. Indeed, this is a film franchise bizarrely obsessed with its own continuity and mythology which at times is more complex than a season of Game of Thrones. Going into FF6 without watching the rest of the series is akin to trying to jump straight into a random episode of a soap opera and criticising character decisions and motivations, or plot twists you didn’t see coming.

In fact, the Fast and the Furious films are the last great American soap opera. Not only does it follow the naming conventions of classics like The Bold and the Beautiful, or The Young and the Restless, but the themes and plot points are also remarkably similar. Fast and Furious 6 alone features fan favourites returning from the dead, characters with amnesia, and even a comment on the existence of evil twins. The script serves purely to move the story along, and this film features even more exposition than explosions.

It does stop every now and again for a character to put each other down, but usually in a loving, familial way. There are a few terrible lines delivered with the intensity of a Royal Shakespeare Company graduate auditioning for Hamlet though, with my personal favourite being Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) wisely imparting the knowledge that “to catch wolves, you need wolves”. I’m not sure that’s exactly how bait works. I’d consider a goat tied to a stake and armed men in position a better way than some kind of wolf showdown; but that’s why I’m not haring around the world recruiting criminals to catch other criminals, and playing hard and loose with diplomatic treaties.

Personally, I like Vin Diesel in these films. He’s cool, calm, and even gets to beat up The Rock at times. All while talking like he uses nettles and razor blades as mouthwash. Paul Walker is hilariously bad, but in a way that doesn’t detract from the film. He spends almost every scene with a look of childish glee on his face, as though he can’t quite believe this is his job. In many ways though, this is exactly how maverick FBI agent turner super criminal Brian O’Conner would behave in the same situation. Maybe we just don’t see that this giddy and excitable character has completely taken over the personality of method actor Paul Walker?

The rest of the cast are a pretty likeable bunch, and you definitely get the feeling of the dreaded ‘F’ word that is uttered every few minutes. Family. The really great thing about this film is that although it is very self-aware, it still treats its serious moments with a level of respect that is admirable. As a convert to the series I really enjoyed the latest outing for the crew, but even if I hadn’t become so connected with the characters I still would’ve had ten times the fun watching it than I did last year’s The Bourne Narcolepsy.

Sit down. Strap in. Ride or die.

Are you Team Owen or Team James (as we believe is the common parlance with the youth)? Is this fast becoming a favourite franchise, or are you furious that they keep making them?