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F9 (2021) Review

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F9

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
John Cena as Jakob Toretto
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Michael Rooker as Buddy
Helen Mirren as Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Director: Justin Lin

Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is living the quiet life off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, but they know that danger always lurks just over the peaceful horizon. This time, that threat forces Dom to confront the sins of his past to save those he loves most. His crew soon comes together to stop a world-shattering plot by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered — Dom’s forsaken brother (John Cena).

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The long running Fast & Furious series just had its latest instalment (technically the 10th if you include Hobbs and Shaw) with F9. They keep getting more over the top with every movie while remaining kind of endearing, and I’m quite entertained by them. So while I wasn’t expecting anything special from F9, I knew that I would have fun, and certainly had that despite some issues.

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The overarching plot with the main goal does feel very familiar, even by the standards of the recent movies. The team have to get this particular world-ending weapon which that the antagonists are after, and the plot just so happens to be more larger scale than the last movie. It already turned into a spy series in Furious 7, becoming a more over the top Mission Impossible with further emphasis on the cars, and so they now have to raise the stakes with every future instalment. With that being the case, I do actually wonder how much they can really do for the last two movies of the series before the plot becomes literally about saving the world from being destroyed. Something that was very apparent when I was watching F9 is that it is absolutely packed with side quests, and that stood out even after having recently re-watched the movies in the series from 5 onwards. Sometimes the characters split off in groups to do different things and somehow it ends up being hard to follow everything that’s happening. At the same time there are some things that don’t make sense even by Fast & Furious standards, and is somehow complicated. That aside, the more recent Fast and Furious continues its interesting mix of not taking itself seriously while being genuine with the way it takes its characters and story somewhat seriously. There is a further emphasis on the story and characters in this movie to a degree, with the soap opera reveal that Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) has a brother that he never mentioned before in the prior films, and whom they are up against in this movie. Not only that, but there are a number of flashbacks which show Dom and his brother Jakob when they were much younger, and what caused their rift and put Jakob where he’s at presently. Not that I don’t appreciate that the filmmakers went through the effort to actually show what happened, but by the end it doesn’t really resonate as much as it was intended to. Overall, the story is very flawed, is sillier than before and even feels formulaic, however I was still interested in it throughout. For those interested, F9 does have a mid-credits scene, and if you’re a fan of these movies I think it’s worth sticking around for.

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F9 has the returning cast of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, they don’t really have a huge amount to do by Fast and Furious standards but are still enjoyable as usual. It really is lacking Dwayne Johnson from the past few movies but it is nice to see Jordana Brewster back as one of the team in her role as Mia Toretto. After Fast Five she was only making brief appearances and now she’s back as one of the main players. Also as hinted in the trailers, there’s the return of Han played by Sung Kang, who was shown to be killed off in Tokyo Drift, the mid credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7. It’s nice to see him back in the team again, though he doesn’t do quite as much in this movie as you would think. As for the explanation for how he’s back from the dead, it’s a little unbelievable, convoluted and very far fetched, yet still rather underwhelming. However I think I’m fine with it, as long as the series doesn’t pull another one of these retcons again. Kurt Russell and Helen Mirren provide some good supporting work as they reprise their respective roles. John Cena was one of the most advertised actors in this movie, as he’s playing Dom’s long-lost brother. Cena can actually act well, although despite the critical role he has to play in the film, he doesn’t really have much to work with. He has a past with Vin Diesel and that’s it, he doesn’t have much personality really, which is strange considering that Cena is definitely a charismatic actor. Charlize Theron as the character of Cipher seems to be intended to be the overarching villain for the Fast and Furious series from Fate of the Furious onwards. However she doesn’t have as much involvement with the plot of F9 as you would initially think, unlike how the trailers showed it, she’s not teaming up with Jakob against Dom. For much of the movie she just spends her screen time in a plastic prison cell, Hannibal Lecter style. I get that they are trying to connect her to every movie in the series from this point but really, she could’ve been written out of this film, and not changed the plot that much. It’s hard to say Cena’s Jakob is the full on main villain of the film, and Theron’s Cipher certainly isn’t. So if there is a clear cut villain in this movie, then the only one left would be the character of Otto played by Thue Ersted Rasmussen, who’s usually in the background and is incredibly forgettable. If he really was intended to be the main antagonist of the film, than he would have to be the worst main villain in the entire series.

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Director Justin Lin makes a welcome return to the Fast and Furious series, after directing Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. As expected he brings such an energy to the movie that gives it a lot of life, it’s shot and edited well, and there’s a lot of attention to detail. The action goes into further levels of absurdity, even more so than the past movies. To a degree, it does feel like its running out of steam in terms of what action can be done with cars. However they still manage to be fun, there’s particularly some fun action involving magnets. Then there’s a particular moment hinted in the trailers that may involve outer space, and while I won’t elaborate on that, it is quite the highlight.

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I do actually wonder how much there’s really left in this series, with the absurd twists and retcons, the physics breaking action and the like. There’s a fine line that the series has walking, and while they haven’t crossed it yet, with F9 it’s pretty clear that they are pretty close to doing that. Speaking of the movie by itself though, I did enjoy it. I think at the very least, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 are better than F9. However I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to watching the next movies.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) Review

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Fast & Furious 6

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Luke Evans as Owen Shaw
Gina Carano as Riley Hicks
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
John Ortiz as Arturo Braga
Director: Justin Lin

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is tasked with catching a team of mercenary drivers who manage to evade him every time. However, he enlists the help of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team in exchange for full pardons for their past crimes.

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Fast Five injected some much needed life and energy into the Fast & Furious franchise. It was a street racing action series, but its fifth movie made the switch to being a heist action movie and that worked really well. Not only was it the best film in the series at that point, but critics and audiences alike really enjoyed it. Director Justin Lin, who made Fast Five (as well as Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious) directs the follow up with Fast & Furious 6. Whether or not its better or worse than the previous instalment, I think it’s around the same level, and I really enjoyed it.

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While I’m not sure on the whole it’s a better movie, I do think that the story of Fast and Furious 6 is more engaging than Fast Five. Rather than it just being another heist, it does take a slightly different story direction. It is definitely still in the heist/crime tone established with Fast Five, which is definitely to its benefit. However what makes it interesting is the way it changes it up. They team up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs this time instead of being chased by him. They are also up against another team of criminals led by Luke Evans, and as its pointed out in the movie, his team is like an evil mirror to Dom’s team. While you really only remember a couple of them, they do make for memorably formidable antagonists. Unlike the villain of 5 who’s just a guy they need to rob, you really feel that they are on the level of Dom’s team. And of course family is a notable part of the movie, this time the big family draw is the fact that the character of Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is not only back from the dead after being assumed dead in the 4th movie, but is also in Luke Evans’s team and doesn’t appear to remember anything. This is a key reason why Dom decides to work with Hobbs and so it is a key part in the plot. I will say though that some of the reasons behind her return are very convoluted and farfetched to say the least. That aside, both aspects come together to make a story that I was interested in. Once again it is the strange but nonetheless effective mix of an approach that doesn’t take things too seriously, while being endearing in how it handles the story and characters and of course family. It also has a good mid credits scene that leads into Furious 7, well worth sticking around to watch.

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The main cast of Fast Five return, with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot. They come into their own here, with great chemistry between them. I’d actually say that they are better here than they were in the last movie. The newcomer of the main cast in the last movie was Dwayne Johnson has Luke Hobbs, and as mentioned earlier is working with Dom and his team instead of pursuing them, he makes a great addition with them and they play off each other really well, as can be expected considering it’s The Rock. One of the main aspects of the movie is Michelle Rodriguez returning as Letty, and she’s a welcome returning player. The villain of Owen Shaw played by Luke Evans works quite well. He’s not great and isn’t that interesting of a character, however he’s definitely a step above the villains in the previous Fast and Furious movies. He isn’t intimidating and imposing especially when he’s put up against Vin Diesel or Swayne Johnson, but he is nonetheless shown to be ruthless and a different kind of threat that wasn’t in the past movies.

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Director Justin Lin returns from Fast Five for this, at this point he’s pretty familiar with the franchise. It mainly comes down to the action, and there’s not much to complain about there. There are some great set pieces and clearly a lot of thought went into them. They really benefited from energetic camerawork, solid editing and good practical effects. The action is even crazier and sillier than Fast Five, not at all worrying about the laws of physics, yet you are constantly focusing on what’s happening and entertained throughout.

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Fast & Furious 6 is around the same level of Fast Five for me. The action might not be quite as memorable as the action scenes in Fast Five, but here the story is a little more interesting, and the cast actually worked better. It’s a solid follow up to Fast Five and was quite enjoyable, among the better entries in this franchise.

Fast Five (2011) Review

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Fast Five

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Matt Schulze as Vince
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Joaquim de Almeida as Hernan Reyes
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
Director: Justin Lin

Ever since ex-cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) broke her brother Dom (Vin Diesel) out of custody, they’ve traveled border to border to evade authorities. In Rio de Janeiro, they must do one final job before they can gain their freedom for good. Assembling their elite team of car racers, Brian and Dom know they must confront the corrupt businessman who wants them dead, before the federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) on their trail finds them.

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Up until Fast Five, the Fast and Furious was a rather okay but entertaining action franchise based around street racing. Some of the movies were reasonably fun but that was sort of it. Fast Five changed that with a much larger blockbuster direction very much for the better, also changing the series as a whole.

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The plot is simple enough: main characters decide to pull off heist on a drug lord while they are being chased by a DEA agent. They don’t make it needlessly complicated, they know what this movie is, with just the right amount of self awareness and witty humour throughout. With Fast Five, they increased the scale and scope of the series. They replaced the street racing formula with elements of a heist thriller, effectively resurrecting this franchise and makes it go in a new direction that actually works quite well. What also works is that they reunite the whole crew with characters from the past movies, making this a sort of soft reboot. If you haven’t seen any of the previous movies, you really don’t have to. You might miss some details with backstories and other characters that are mentioned in passing, but you can pick up on those easily easily. On top of the original Fast and Furious team with Dom, Brian and Mia, there’s characters introduced from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift and Fast and Furious. While that could seem a bit overwhelming to have all these characters brought in, they actually work quite well together. Despite the over the top action, the screenplay does place more emphasis on its story and characters, to the film’s benefit. Then there’s the ever present theme about family, and as much as this has been made fun of, it is something that is throughout these movies. One of the things that I like most about these movies is that for as over the top they are, they are genuine and endearing with the characters and their journeys. So it’s just the right mix where they don’t take it too seriously and don’t let anything like physics get in the way of the action, while actually caring about the story and characters.

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The movie has a stellar ensemble with the actors playing to their advantages. Returning main cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster come back, as does Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Gal Gadot, Suan Kang and more from the previous movies to reprise their roles. All of them work together well in the team and have great chemistry together. It’s no coincidence that the series really found itself after Dwayne Johnson joined it. His personality and charisma adds a lot to this movie as well as the following movies. In this movie, he’s going after Vin Diesel and his group (before teaming up with him later on) and its fun watching them face off.

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Fast Five is directed by Justin Lin, who directed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious prior to it, but he seemed to have improved over these movies. He has such a sleek direction, the action scenes are particularly great. This movie obviously is far from being realistic but it’s all shot, edited and filmed well. The third act is the standout, and there’s particularly an insane final setpiece involving a giant safe, which is particularly strong. Brian Tyler’s score packs some intense tracks that adds a lot to the action.

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Fast Five is one of the best entries in the franchise, this is really where the series took off and it’s easy to see why. Even looking back at it now 10 years later, it still holds up despite its ever present flaws. It’s entertaining while caring about its characters and story, it’s silly and over the top while being endearing, it’s just the right blend of elements. If you’ve never seen a Fast and Furious movie, you could jump right in with this movie.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Review

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The Fast and the Furious

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Leticia “Letty” Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Rick Yune as Johnny Tran
Chad Lindberg as Jesse
Johnny Strong as Leon
Matt Schulze as Vince
Ted Levine as Tanner
Director: Rob Cohen

LA street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) falls under the suspicion of the LAPD for a string of high-speed electronics truck robberies. Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) an officer of the LAPD, joins the ranks of Toretto’s highly skilled racing crew undercover to convict Toretto. However, O’Connor finds himself both enamored with this new world and in love with Toretto’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) As a rival racing crew gains strength, O’Connor must decide where his loyalties lie.

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The Fast and Furious franchise is today one of the most popular action franchises today, with its seventh instalment released earlier this year. Watching the original 2001 film, it was interesting to see how it started off in the first place. Looking at it now, it’s actually quite well set up with good action, although quite different from the later instalments. Although I don’t think it’s as good as the more recent films in the franchise, I still found this first film to be quite enjoyable.

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People more familiar with the newer films should know that unlike those films where it had focused on the main characters doing such activities such as pulling off heists, this film was focussed on street racing, in fact that is what the first 3 films focused on. The film at times does feel a little slow for a film about street racing especially in the first act however once it got into the second act I was invested in the film. Granted, like all the Fast and Furious movies, the plot doesn’t really matter. We are really just there to see guys drive fast cars and enjoy the action that unfolds. The film is quite good at that but don’t expect them to be parachuting in cars onto a bridge or anything similar.

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The actors for the most part do well, they aren’t really spectacular but they aren’t really supposed to be, the action with the cars is supposed to be the main focus. There was really only any character development with a couple of characters but they all did well with what they have. I actually liked Paul Walker as the main character, I know that a lot of people have a problem with him but I think his character worked for the film. The show stealer for me though was Vin Diesel, he’s often one of the main highlights of the Fast and Furious films. The rest of the cast which consisted of actors like Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster also worked for their roles. The villain played by Rick Yune was decent, he does usually play great villains (Olympus has Fallen, Die Another Day). He’s not really the villain until the second half but he does well with what he’s got, despite being not very developed.

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The Fast and Furious franchise always has had great action (with maybe the exception of 2 Fast 2 Furious) and that was always there from the beginning. The stunt work, especially with the cars is very commendable. If you are going into this film (or any Fast and Furious movie for that matter), do understand that the film isn’t realistic in the slightest, however honestly, this might be the most realistic Fast and Furious movie in terms of action scenes. The film also has a nice sharp and quick style which really works for the film.

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While not one of the better Fast and Furious movies, it is still a decent movie and I really enjoyed watching it. If you never enjoyed any of the Fast and Furious movies than this won’t change your mind. It’s exactly the type of film you’d expect called Fast and Furious. If you liked the more recent Fast and Furious films, I think it’s worth checking this one out. It’s not as exciting or have as much overblown fun as the latest films but I think there’s quite a bit of enjoyment to have here.

Furious 7 (2015) Review

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Furious 7

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Michelle Rodriguez as Leticia “Letty” Ortiz-Toretto
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto-O’Conner
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Director: James Wan

The sins of the past seem to be catch up with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and his crew, when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) shows up to seek revenge for the travails of his younger brother. When a young unknown hacker who claims to have developed ‘God’s Eye’ is also thrown into the mix, things go haywire and Toretto & his crew need to save the hacker and also settle their scores with Shaw.

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The Fast and Furious is a long running action franchise, starting 14 years ago with The Fast and Furious. Today it is one of the best action franchises today due to its change from street racing to heists in Fast Five. Its latest sequel had the misfortune of Paul Walker’s unfortunate death during production. Despite this, Furious 7 ends up being one of the best movies in the franchise and I have a good feeling that many more films that will follow will be great as the ones before it.

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Horror director James Wan takes over from Justin Lin and I thought he did a pretty good job, surprising seeing as this is an action movie. The plot is simple enough and it isn’t made more convoluted than it needs to be, no one is really going into the Fast and Furious movies for the plot. One thing that each of these movies must do is to up the ante of what how big the action scenes can be over the previous movies. That definitely happens and the scenes without action are done quite well and don’t feel unnecessary or long. One thing I will say is that they could’ve used Jason Statham a little more. He was great in the movie but a lot of the time he just pops up every so often during whatever they are doing. However the biggest thing that most people will want to know is how Paul Walker’s last appearance would be handled. Without spoiling anything I will say that he is sent off well and led to the best possible ending that this movie could’ve had.

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All the surviving cast from the previous movie returns and they do quite well in their roles. They aren’t Oscar worthy performances but they aren’t supposed to be. Dwayne Johnson is as usual great in this movie, however he’s not in it as much as the previous movies. I would’ve liked to have seen more of him in this movie but he’s awesome in the scenes he’s in. Jason Statham was really good as the villain and I’d even go so far as to say that he’s the best villain in the franchise. Also a mention should definitely go to Kurt Russell as a government agent, this is his best role in years and hopefully he’ll appear in future Fast and Furious movies.

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Despite James Wan mostly being a director of horror movies he’s managed to direct action very well. The action scenes are done excellently and as I said before, they even go more over the top than the scenes in the previous movies. Whether it be cars parachuting from a plane or cars driving around in skyscrapers, everything is filmed really well. The fight scenes are also well choreographed and filmed as much as possible. Due to Paul Walker’s death, the film had stunt doubles and CGI to replace him in the scenes he hadn’t filmed, some people saw it but I personally didn’t notice it.

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Furious 7 is one of the best movies in the Fast and Furious franchise. If you didn’t like the direction these recent movies have gone in, or if you’ve never liked any of these movies than this film won’t change your mind. I’m open to the idea of more Fast and Furious movies (it’s been recently announced that there will be an 8th film) but if this series ended with this film, it would’ve been a suitable movie to end on.