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Author Topic: The Fast and the Furious  (Read 1458 times)

Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #50 on: April 13, 2020, 08:26:27 AM »
Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw (David Leitch, 2019)

One of the strengths of the Fast & Furious series is the ensemble. Over the years, the franchise has brought together a great set of actors, doing incredible things to grow and expand their chemistry as a ďcrewĒ, and that chemistry and camaraderie has gone a long way in making it the beloved series it is today, especially given the central themes of family and loyalty. So it only makes sense that after all this time, growing the cast, that there would be enough content there to create a spinoff with some of the more edge characters like Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham). Theyíve both been central to a few of the previous movies, but not only are they more incidental memberís of Domís crew, but their MO is also slightly different than what the main series has come to be known for. Also, Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel apparently hate each other, so it makes total sense for them to go separate ways and build off their beloved characters in seperate vehicles.

After the heist of a virus goes awry, a special agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) must inject herself with the virus to protect it from supervillain Brixton (Idris Elba), who appears to be genetically enhanced. Suspected of stealing it herself and betraying her team, Hattie is now on the run, looking to play keep away while also finding a way to get the virus out of her system before itís too late. Enter Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham), who are called on to help acquire the virus and save the world once more. The only twist for the two super agents who hate each other: they donít know the other was contacted for the job, and now they must find a way to work together.

I donít exactly know what I was expecting out of a Hobbs and Shaw spin-off movie, but this feels like pretty close to exactly what it should have been. Itís very much a spin-off movie, as it feels very much like a straight-forward action spy movie, and doesnít share a lot of the same sensibilities with the main franchise in terms of the growth of the characters over the years, and especially the involvement of cool, fast cars. By focusing on what makes Hobbs and Shaw, Hobbs and Shaw the film really benefits from the specific abilities of Johnson and Statham as action stars and the butting heads weíve come to love from the main series of these two characters. Really when you get to the bottom of it, these two are very similar, which is also why they seem to clash and hate each other, as opposed to becoming the best buds we know theyíre destined to be.

By leaning on the strengths of its performers, Hobbs & Shaw is a character success. The action and the plotting seems to play second fiddle to just spending time watching these characters interact, Elba and Kirby included. The action and plot, as mentioned, is fairly straight-forward. The charm of these characters, and a few of the curveballs that get thrown in, like the involvement of both Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart, really lift an otherwise mediocre presentation into something that is immensely enjoyable. The chemistry between the two charismatic leads is electric, and makes the film is really funny one at times too, which helps cut through the seriousness of the plotting and action scenes. The filmmakers, once again led by writer Chris Morgan, know how to embed the comedy, including references to both The Italian Job and Johnsonís famed time as a professional wrestler.

But in addition to the comedy and charisma of the cast, the film leans heavily again on the themes of the franchise as a way to tie it in to the main series more tightly than it appears on the surface. Themes of family and loyalty abound, with more than a few well thought out twists which work quite well. Itís enjoyable to see the origins of Luke Hobbs, and see the motivations of Deckard Shaw revealed. Itís truly remarkable to add such performers as Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby to the cast of this film and enhance that experience even more, even if Elbaís Brixton is a little generic as far as villains go. Hobbs & Shaw is ultimately a fairly standard action movie, but the elements Iíve mentioned which elevate its experience really show the strength of the cast and draw of the franchise to all the fans who hold it so dear. I would strongly recommend this to fans of Fast & Furious.

★★★☆☆ Ė Liked It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2020, 08:31:51 AM »
Main series ranking:

1. Fast Five
2. The Fast and the Furious
3. Furious 7

4. Hobbs and Shaw
5. Fast & Furious
6. Fast & Furious 6

7. 2 Fast 2 Furious
8. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
9. The Fate of the Furious
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Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #52 on: April 13, 2020, 09:29:59 AM »
The Fast & Furious franchise has gotten so big that there is even additional content that I explored just to see what else this world has to offer. Here are two short films and an animated television series that has spun-off the main series of films.

Turbo Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (Philip G. Atwell, 2003)

First, let me start by saying that there is absolutely nothing ďturbo chargedĒ about this 6 minute film intended to bridge the gap between The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious. One of my complaints about the sequel was how Brian (Paul Walker) ended up in Miami, and why. Well, ask no more! This short film shows Brian post letting Dom go, running from the police by road tripping across America to get to Miami. Along the way, he finds races to make some money, and even befriends a girl (Minka Kelly), who keeps his cover and helps him elude the authorities.

Essentially, this is a 6 minute montage with very little to no dialogue as we see how Brian made his way to Miami. For that reason, this film cannot be recommended to anyone but the most intense and completionist type fans of the series. Itís extremely inessential and fairly uninteresting and uneventful. I guess the only saving grace might be the style and faithfulness to the type of movie The Fast and the Furious is. It at least serves a purpose in the franchise, filling a gap that didnít need filling.

★★☆☆☆ Ė Didn't Like It


Los Bandoleros (Vin Diesel, 2009)

Los Bandoleros is the second short film in the series, which fills in just before Fast & Furious, and I suppose serving as explanation for where Dom (Vin Diesel) has been through the second and third films where his absence was certainly felt. We spend time in the Dominican Republic, where we also caught up with Dom and Letty in the beginning of The Fate of the Furious, so I suppose we are to conclude that this is where Dom, or at least his family, is from. Dom is living the good life, and then Han (Sung Kang) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) both show up. We end up with an on the water sequence of Dom and Letty making out.

Itís a much longer film than Turbo Charged Prelude, coming in at 20 minutes, but somehow it feels like less happens. Thereís some kind of plot of a jailbreak and needing to steal oil for the family? It doesnít make sense, but it does ultimately tie in to the opening scene in Fast & Furious, but this film is somehow even less essential and necessary than Turbo Charged Prelude, if that is possible. What is notable here is the direction of Vin Diesel. Diesel manages to include a few interesting visual flourishes that made me think he might not be a bad director if he ever chose to go that direction, but really the film is pretty poor and unfocused and unclear of its intent and purpose, so perhaps not.

★☆☆☆☆ Ė Hated It


Fast & Furious Spy Racers (Netflix, 2019)

The Fast & Furious brand continues to expand with this spin-off animated series, which in and of itself brings about a few questions. The franchise is a great big action franchise with plenty of violence, built on a premise of crime, so what about that screams kids animated series? Not much, and I think for that reason this TV-Y7 rated series is a little problematic. Iím not against animation, and Iím not against Fast & Furious (at all), but the combining of the two feels a little weird. What we get is an action series about infiltrating a gang with intentions to do crime, but in the tone of a childrenís show. Itís just a little weird and a little tone deaf.

But whatís weirderÖI think I liked it? Like the dialogue and a lot of the jokes are clearly juvenile, which doesnít fit with the story being told, but the story being told is actually pretty damn solid and I enjoyed the ride and animation of these car races and action scenes. Even the characters were mostly good too (again, with some juvenile tendencies). Domís cousin Tony and his crew are asked by Ms. Nowhere to infiltrate SH1FT3R, a gang led by Shashi who has plans to steal keys to the Skeleton Key. It plays as a learn as you go caper for the younger, but I guess still adult? crew (with the exception of the tech guy Frostee, who is specifically referenced as being 13.

Again, the dynamics of this donít work, but the storyline and action are engaging and entertaining for the most part. Itís an eight episode series, which amounts to a 3 hour movie, as each episode plays into the larger story. It easily could have been edited into a movie instead. Overall, the series dwindles the longer it lasts, after starting with a bang, but again, I somehow really enjoyed this, despite all the reasons I shouldnít have, and all the reasons I can readily admit are either problematic or just, juvenile. Thatís the word I keep coming back to. But if I imagine this as a live action, PG-13 movie, or even an adult cartoon, I think the story and characters work really well. Itís just the positioning of it as a kids series/cartoon that seems to generally bring down an otherwise promising entry into the universe.

★★★☆☆ Ė Liked It
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smirnoff

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2020, 06:29:06 PM »
Good thorough exploration of the franchise. A lot more highlight than I would have expected. :)

Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #54 on: April 14, 2020, 07:01:46 AM »
Good thorough exploration of the franchise. A lot more highlight than I would have expected. :)

Thanks! I still have Justin Lin's "Han origin story" Better Luck Tomorrow, which I will get to this week. It has been a wild and fun ride!
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Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #55 on: April 15, 2020, 02:05:25 PM »
Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lin, 2002)

I brought this movie into my Fast & Furious marathon for a few reasons, but for many it may seem like it doesnít belong, and any connection between Better Luck Tomorrow and the series is tangential at best. The obvious connection is the inclusion of a character named Han, an Asian American played by Sung Kang, who develops a penchant for crime while being the coolest badass there is and driving a retro Ford Mustang. But the film is also directed by Justin Lin, who also introduced Kangís Han in Tokyo Drift, and continued to utilize his popularity with fans through Fast & Furious 6. Otherwise, there are no Torettos, no Brian OíConnor, not even really any cool, fast cars. So as I watched this film, I tried to look at it completely on its own and seperate, while also taking note of Han and any related bits that might tie in to the series, or inform on the character beyond the film. It was a fun exercise to be sure!

Ben (Parry Shen) is a bright, young Asian American student who has hopes of attending an Ivy League for college. He manages to boost his resume with various extracurricular activities, including making the JV basketball team. His friend Virgil (Jason Tobin) is under the same boat, but a little less straight laced than Ben. The pair, with the held of Virgilís cousin Han (Sung Kang) start with some small scale crime activity to make a few extra bucks. But once Ben starts to fall for his lab partner Stephanie (Karin Anna Cheung), and the group falls in with her boyfriend Steve (John Cho) and senior Daric (Roger Fan), their criminal activities spiral to the point that Ben wants out.

Early on you can detect the style and confidence of director Justin Lin. While the film feels very different than an action movie like Fast & Furious, you get the sense that Lin displays the pedigree to handle such a cool, stylish property. But the wonder of the movie is that it is a much smaller, character focused film than what the populace considers the mega-blockbuster series. Lin, even apart from Fast & Furious, has stuck mostly to known properties and action (Star Trek Beyond, upcoming Bourne sequel), which is a shame because Better Luck Tomorrow works extremely well as a small telling a story about a group of Asian American teenagers. I would love to see him return to a smaller scale film.

The cast, largely unknown (at least at the time) is mostly good. We now know Sung Kang and John Cho, but Parry Shen, Jason Tobin and Roger Fan are all good here too. There are moments that are a little rough around the edges, line deliveries that could have been handled better with an additional take, or even a more experienced actor, but the ensemble works very well together and I would have hated to break that up. The casting is mostly perfect in that regard. But the most impressive aspect of the film is the pacing of the film, with Lin showing a sense of restraint to let the story develop and eventually explode in the third act. As we go along with Ben and his friends, we know the deeper they go, the worse itíll become for them, but Lin and the cast present such sympathetic characters that we canít help but root for them, hope for the best. It all happens surprisingly organically.

In terms of Han, I can totally see this as the same character, as Kang and Lin have stated multiple times in interviews. Early on, you can see his penchant for nice cars (the Mustang), and even for crime, while also being noble and likable, one of the defining characteristics of Han in the Fast & Furious series. He is often the voice of reason here, wanting the benefits of the minor crimes, but also being very smart about pushing things too far. Honestly, this film really grows on you, as the film slowly develops over time, building to the explosive third act which really puts this movie over the top. I have a suspicion that this is a film which would be solid on a rewatch, if not even better. Even with the elements that show a young cast and filmmaker, itís packed with great ideas and even better executions. An easy recommendation as a great film, regardless of its tentative connection to the Fast & Furious series.

★★★☆☆ Ė Liked It
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Corndog

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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #56 on: April 15, 2020, 02:12:12 PM »
See everybody next spring for F9!

This was a super fun marathon to run through, probably one of my fastest completed marathons in history lol. Thanks quarantine!
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Re: The Fast and the Furious
« Reply #57 on: April 16, 2020, 09:37:37 AM »
I'm glad you watched Better Luck Tomorrow because it's a good movie and just putting an Asian-American perspective on Mean Streets makes it completely, refreshingly different. I wish more of the actors came out of it with high-profile careers.
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