Tag Archives: jason statham

‘Fate of the Furious’ Too Dumb for its Own Good

fate of the furiousSomeone needs to start a petition to make studios put subtitles on the screen every time Vin Diesel speaks, I can only make out every fifth word that man says…

“The Fate of the Furious” is the eighth installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise (take a moment to let the fact we’re eight films and 16 years deep into this thing sink in), and follows Dominic Torretto (Diesel) who is blackmailed by a cyberterrorist (Charlize Theron) to go rogue against his team and steal weapons. Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood also star as F. Gary Gray takes over directors duties.

The best part of this film, much like the previous one, is Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. They both play off each other well and seem to be the only actors who truly know what kind of film they’re in and enjoy every minute of it; Kurt Russell also chews scenery as the covert ops leader. Russell, Johnson and Statham have other films and properties to fall back on and have excelled in comedies (I still think Statham didn’t get enough love for “Spy”) so they don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re great fun. Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson have some witty banter back-and-forth, even if sometimes it comes at inappropriate moments or the jokes fall flat.

Like I said up top, Vin Diesel is as inaudible as ever and mumbles his way through another performance in the series that made him a household(ish) name. Some lines go completely undetectable while others are overacted and if it wasn’t for Scott Eastwood, Diesel would be the worst performance in the film (Eastwood is so annoying here).

The action is, for the most part, top notch as we’ve come to expect. F. Gary Gray takes over the director’s chair from James Wan and he stages some incredibly impressive set pieces, including one of the most ambitious of the series to date; let’s just say ludicrous isn’t just the name of a cast member. Ranging from a street race in Havana to a hundred car pile-up in New York City, the series has officially jumped the shark (if it somehow hadn’t already) and we are one step closer to “Fast and Furious in Space.”

The biggest problem “Fate of the Furious” has (aside from its acting, plot and dialogue) is its pacing; clocking in at 136 minutes, you certainly feel every second of the runtime. Scenes go on too long or just feel aimless, and by the time the climax is reached you’re close to exhaustion. And that aforementioned climax, much like “Fast & Furious 6” or “Furious 7,” features an elongated chase that just gets repetitive after a while, and at times defies even the most suspended of belief.

“The Fate of the Furious” is a hard film to critique because it’s a bad movie, but it knows it’s bad, and that’s part of its charm. With a $250 million budget it looks great and features some impressively staged sequences, but all too often I found myself teetering towards bored and that shouldn’t happen in a film that features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hanging out of a car to shove missile towards a submarine in artic Russia. Here’s the bottom line: if you love these movies, you’re going to like this one. If you’re like me and these films are just alright, then this is certainly one of the weaker installments. And if you enjoy logic and films obeying the laws of physics and gravity…well then you checked out about five movies ago.

Critics Rating: 5/10


Horrible Editing, Pretty Scenery Highlight ‘Transporter Refueled’

_The_Transporter_Refueled__posterIf the 85% humidity didn’t have me thinking it’s still August, the release of crap movies sure would have.

“The Transporter Refueled” is a reboot (I think? It has never really been confirmed if this is a reboot or prequel) of the Transporter franchise, but this time Ed Skrein gets behind the wheel to play the titular character instead of Jason Statham. Here the Transporter must help out four call girls who are looking to get revenge on a kingpin (or something along those lines; this film is a mess). Editor-turned-director Carmille Delamarre directs.

The last Transporter film was in 2008 and in the seven years since I haven’t heard a single person clamoring for another sequel. In fact, “Transporter 3” is often referred to as one of the worst edited action films of all-time, alongside “Taken 2.” So naturally it makes sense that they hire the guy who edited those two films to direct this one, right?

Like I said above, this movie is a mess and I have no idea where to start with it. I guess I’ll begin with how lazy and stupid it is. In the film’s opening scene, a bunch of men are shot in front of a group of prostitutes. The pimp then orders the girls to get back to work…with the massacred bodies still lying on the pavement. I’m not an expert in how ladies-of-the-night operate, but I have to imagine corpses are bad for business.

That scene takes place in 1995, and then we are transported (get it?) 15 years later, which after a quick calculation means it’s 2010. That would be fine and dandy, except characters use iPhone 6’s and drive 2015 vehicles. So either the movie was too lazy to add 15 to 1995, or they didn’t care about being accurate to the time period, both of which are sins.

The action in the film is at times fine, there are a few well-choreographed car chases, but those moments are diluted and ruined by constant slow-motion and quick edits. And when I say quick edits, I’m talking five shots in less than four second. The same type of edits you may find in, say, “Taken 2” or “Transporter 3.”

The man behind this film, and other gems such as the Taken trilogy, “The Family” and the worst film of last year, “Lucy,” is Luc Besson and he is the Adam Sandler of the action world. He continuously gives his friends jobs, and his films are usually awful, featuring near no plot, shoddy editing and villains with horrible accents and even worse motivations; and Besson makes no effort to try and change formula this time around.

The best part of “Refueled” was when Skrein is fighting a group of henchmen and he sticks a floatation ring around one of them and the bad guy yells, “you jerk!”. I laughed out loud. Obviously not the film’s intention, but most of the writing is that bad throughout.

I was never bored while watching “The Transporter Refueled” per se, but I was also almost never interested. I checked my phone at least five times and at one point even responded to a text, which I *never* do. The film is set in the incredibly beautiful Monaco, so every establishing shot is gorgeous, but honestly aside from that there isn’t much this movie does right. It’s not frustratingly awful like “Fantastic Four” or annoyingly bad like “Pixels,” but “The Transporter Refueled” fails to accomplish what it set out to do, whatever the heck that aspiration was.

Critics Rating: 4/10



McCarthy Back to Being Funny in ‘Spy’

Spy2015_TeaserPosterAnd the rollercoaster ride that is Melissa McCarthy continues.

“Spy” is the latest collaboration between Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig. When the identities of every CIA agent are blown, an analyst (McCarthy) must go out into the field to stop a nuclear bomb deal. Jason Statham, Jude Law, and Rose Byrne co-star as Feig writes and directs.

I had pretty much given up on Melissa McCarthy after last year. She stood out in “Bridesmaids,” but then made the disappointing “Identity Thief.” She then rebounded with the surprisingly great “The Heat,” before crashing back down to Earth in spectacularly awful fashion with the abysmal “Tammy” (my review/rant). “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” were directed by Feig; the other two…well, weren’t. So all McCarthy has to do is only make movies with Paul Feig directing and her career will be great.

First things first, “Spy” is a very funny film. McCarthy tones it down and while is still poking slight fun at her appearance and goes on her foul-mouthed rants, she never overdoes it, which is both appealing and appreciated. This is only Feig’s second-ever movie screenplay that he has written (after the 2003 drama “I Am David”), and while it follows the spy genre cliché checklist to the letter, it is still full of plenty of witty dialogue and is briskly paced.

While the script and McCarthy complement each other each other quite well, the real standout in the film is Jason Statham, who has never starred in a full-out comedy before. While some of his delivery and timing could use some polishing, Statham is perfectly cast as the arrogant CIA agent who sees himself as indestructible. Every scene he is in features him listing impossible tasks that he’s completed, and the funny thing is that you almost buy it because it’s Jason Statham; you can totally see him jumping off of a bridge onto a moving train while on fire.

It’s like how back in 2010 when Mark Wahlberg, then known just for drama, starred in “The Other Guys” and everyone went, “huh. I guess Marky Mark is funny”. Statham should start seeing a few more comedies offered to him in the future (and he should please take them).

But of course, a spy movie would be nothing without quality action and exotic locations, and this film delivers both. McCarthy’s mission takes her all across Europe, from Paris to Rome to Hungary, and Feig makes sure to get plenty of (albeit passé) shots of landmarks and monuments to give the film a nice flavor.

As for the action, Feig has some wonderfully fun pieces staged. Whether it be a shootout, a knife fight or a car chase, Feig utilizes slow-mo and some nifty camera tricks to really make the sequences engaging, and McCarthy is able to mostly sell that she can kick some serious butt. Just like “The Heat,” “Spy” can be surprisingly graphic at times, but it is never over-the-top gore level. Just know this isn’t going to be like “Get Smart” where the bad guys trip or hit their head on a pipe; there are quite a few kills in this movie (and I loved that).

The only real flaws of “Spy” are nitpicks; overall it is a pretty well constructed comedy. Some conflicts end rather abruptly and you just have to accept the outcome, and if you are looking for any real twists and turns than you’ll be in for a letdown (I guessed the ending within the first 10 minutes, you know, not to brag).

I really was surprised how much I liked “Spy,” and it has, at least for now, restored a little bit of faith in Melissa McCarthy. It has some fun banter, a few engaging action scenes, and the right balance of parody and homage to the classic spy genre. It’s just a really fun film that had me laughing throughout, and I walked out having thoroughly enjoyed myself. And isn’t that all comedies aim to do?

Critics Rating: 8/10



Third Time’s the Charm for ‘Expendables’

Expendables_3_posterThe “Expendables” franchise in a nutshell: Sylvester Stallone has gathered the biggest action stars from the past 30 years, thrown in a few old jokes and sprinkled it all with excessive violence and gunplay. The results have been mixed, with the first film being fun but taking itself way too seriously, while the sequel was a little more self-relevant but was still sloppy.

With “The Expendables 3”, Stallone and his team have clearly taken notes because, while not a masterpiece or even particularly good film, the third time is the charm for this group for the steroid and Botox mercenaries.

Directed by Australian newcomer Patrick Hughes, “Expendables 3” follows Barney Ross (Stallone) as he tries to find new, younger blood in order to bring down an arms dealer, and former Expendables member, played by Mel Gibson. Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Arnold Schwarzenegger are among the many costars.

First things first, the jokes are much more prevalent than in past films. Stallone brought onboard Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, writers of “Olympus Has Fallen”, to co-write the script with him, and it results in the same irrelevant, intentionally awful jokes that not only made “Olympus” so much fun, but the action films from the 80’s. Harrison Ford, filling in for Bruce Willis who was fired after demanding $1 million a day, has the most fun of the newcomers, and unlike Willis looks like he actually gives a darn about being there. He has smile on his face the entire film, and has one funny running gag where he tells Jason Statham to “stop mumbling” whenever he speaks in his British accent.

Also, unlike the first two films, we know and actually empathize with the villain. Gibson’s weapons dealing character is given an actual backstory and there is one scene where he is talking to Stallone about why he does what he does and feels genuine.

Of all the newcomers, two stand out for reasons they may not like, the first being the lone female Expendable, played by UFC fighter Ronda Rousey. Her acting has a lot of opportunity for improvement (nice way of saying she’s not very good), and on more than one occasion she clichély says “men” when a group of the guys do something stupid. The other “standout” is Antonio Banderas, who, I swear to God, pulls a Jar Jar Binks. He is just over-the-top, quickly saying unfunny lines and never stopping the talking.

When news broke that this film was PG-13 instead of R, most people freaked out. We saw what happened when an R-rated franchise goes PG-13 earlier with RoboCop, so many people were nervous that this one. However the 4th Die Hard was rated PG-13, and that is arguably featured the best action of the series. And “Expendables 3” luckily falls closer to the Die Hard side of things.

Director Patrick Hughes stages some fantastic action sequences, and right from the start of the film you know you’re in for a thrill ride as it opens up on a train during a hostage rescue. Yes, there are the obligatory close-ups and shaky cams that accompany PG-13 films, but it never distracts you (this was shot as R but was cut to PG-13, because money).

At this point you know whether you like these films or not. I personally found the mix of new age tech versus old school fist fights an entertaining step in a new direction for the franchise, and is the best film in the series (take that statement for what it’s worth). There’s a part in the film when Ford turns to Stallone and says “that’s some of the most fun I’ve had in years”. I wouldn’t be lying if I said “Expendables 3” is some of the most fun I’ve had all summer.

Critics Rating: 7/10