Tag Archives: Vin Diesel

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.

Bloodshot (2020) Review

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Bloodshot

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison/Bloodshot
Sam Heughan as Jimmy Dalton
Eiza González as KT
Toby Kebbell as Martin Axe
Guy Pearce as Dr. Emil Harting
Director: Dave Wilson

After he and his wife are murdered, marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is resurrected by a team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, biotech killing machine – Bloodshot. As Ray first trains with fellow super-soldiers, he cannot recall anything from his former life. But when his memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility to get revenge, only to discover that there’s more to the conspiracy than he thought.

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I heard about Bloodshot a while ago, I knew it as being based of a comic book from Valiant Comics and it was starring Vin Diesel in the lead role. I didn’t really know what to expect really, I didn’t know of the comics, and while I enjoy a lot of Vin Diesel movies, they are often just above average action flicks and not much more than that. The trailer certainly made it look like another Vin Diesel action movie, but I went in cautiously optimistic and hoping for something fun. Unfortunately, the experience was rather mixed, fun in points but otherwise rather average.

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For the record, the trailer does reveal a big aspect of the plot, and to put it bluntly you can figure out the rest of the plot from that. So if you haven’t watched the trailer and are intending to watch Bloodshot, don’t watch it before going in. Not that I wouldn’t have figured out something like that during the early parts, but knowing it going in made many of the early scenes kind of a chore to sit through. Fortunately it does pick up after the first act, but even then the plot remains pretty standard. It’s a revenge thriller mixed with a conspiracy sci-fi movie, and almost everything in this movie is quite predictable. Not to mention the characters have multiple exposition scenes where they spell out the plot clearly for the audience, even though it’s obvious what’s going on. If they removed the scenes it wouldn’t have affected the movie too much. A lot of the tension and suspense is ruined by the fact that Vin Diesel’s character is essentially unstoppable and regenerates any damages he receives. I know near immortal characters as protagonists like him are hard to balance in blockbusters, but Bloodshot didn’t seem to figure out how to handle him. The writing is pretty poor, and really limits the movie to generic action territory. The biggest disappointment was that Bloodshot was either too campy or not campy enough. This plot has been recycled from numerous other blockbusters, but there were some opportunities to take it further and explore certain areas, but it’s trapped as a generic sci-fi action flick. On the other hand, while it has its over the top and cheesy moments, it still has a semi-serious feel, so it doesn’t even reach that level of entertainment on a guilty pleasure sense.

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Vin Diesel acts like Vin Diesel in the lead role, just like you’d expect him too. He’s serviceable but doesn’t take the material to the next level that this movie really needed, and honestly most actors probably would’ve been better had they been cast instead of him. He does try to display emotions in the scenes that he needs to, but to put it generously, he’s not good. In fact most of his attempts were more hilarious than anything. Most of the rest of the cast does fine, including Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan and Guy Pearce. However most of the side characters are written pretty unevenly, with motivations all over the place. Some side characters were particularly written and performed way too over the top. Toby Kebbell despite being a talented actor, once again doesn’t get much to do in another average blockbuster (outside of maybe his first scene).

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This is the first film from Dave Wilson, and it’s not directed the best. Sure it’s made competently enough, but it lacks any sort of style. The action is a mixed bag, on the one hand it is over the top, but it only really provided mild entertainment at best. With the slow motion and panning shots, it felt like they were wanting action on the level done by the likes of Michael Bay or Zack Snyder, but unfortunately it was nowhere near that level, and felt rather weak. There’s a little too much editing going on during the action, not to the point where you can’t see what’s happening, but to the point where it was distracting. It didn’t need to be R rated and I’m not sure that it would’ve made it necessarily better, but going all out with the violence would’ve it a little more entertaining than the end product turned out to be. Visual effects are hit or miss, mostly miss as it’s so reliant on the CGI. The level of visual effects at points made it look like a movie from the early 2000s. There’s an action scene in an elevator, where it has a falling CGI body meant to represent Vin Diesel, and it just looked really dumb.

BLOODSHOT (Vin Diesel) in Columbia Pictures' BLOODSHOT.

Bloodshot feels like one of those goofy action movies from the early 2000s, and in this case it’s not really for the better. While it has its moments of entertainment, at best it is a disposable flick that is really only worth checking out if you’re very curious about it and have 2 hours to spare. The direction is okay at best, the writing is terrible, and while most of the acting is fine, Vin Diesel really doesn’t do enough to elevate the material. If it was all in on the silliness it would’ve been more enjoyable, but it also could’ve been better, there was a lot of potential even with the rather generic plot. In all honesty, it really feels like a Vin Diesel vehicle, and the fact that Vin Diesel produced the movie doesn’t make things better. It was made with the intention to start off a series, but even without the recent pandemic, Bloodshot just doesn’t have enough here to make people interested beyond the first movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Retrospective Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot
Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk
Kurt Russell as Ego
Director: James Gunn

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.

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In the lead up to Avengers: Endgame, there were a few movies I wanted to rewatch beforehand. The first was The Incredible Hulk, which I reviewed very recently. The other two were Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain America: Civil War. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was a movie I was mixed about when I first saw it, while the second movie had some of the things that made the first movie so good, it felt like some things were missing and it just didn’t work for me. However, I decided to give it another go so that I was sure how I felt about it, and I’m glad to say that after my second viewing, I like the movie a lot more now.

As this is a retrospective review, I will be going into some spoilers throughout the movie, so if you haven’t seen the movie you should probably watch it first before reading this. I think probably the most jarring part that might’ve prevented me from liking the movie as much as I could’ve when I first watched it was that it wasn’t as fast paced and action packed as the first one, it’s a very different kind of movie. Most of the movie is most of the Guardians of the Galaxy (aside from Rocket and Yondu who have their own plotline elsewhere) on planet Ego, so for a large portion of the movie, not much is happening plotwise. It seemed to be much more focussed on characters, and in that it did rather well, even if it took me 2 viewings to appreciate it. The movie is about family, when it came to Peter and Ego, Peter and Yondu, Gamora and Nebula, and so on. It’s by no means anything original, even when it comes to comic book movies, but still they pulled it off rather well. The jokes worked a lot better for me this time too. One of the main criticisms of the MCU is that some of the jokes can take away from the dramatic and emotional impactful scenes, and I regarded this movie in my original review as suffering from that heavily. On a second viewing however, I found that it doesn’t take away as much as I thought it did. With that said, I I feel like it really only is effective on an emotional level at the end of the movie. I still consider the Yondu death scene one of the highlight MCU scenes, very well executed, the final moments on the whole were really well handled. With a lot of the other MCU movies building up to Infinity War and setting up things, it is nice seeing an instalment that’s working as its own story first and buildup second.

The cast generally did well, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and the rest all do commendable jobs in their roles. Dave Bautista’s Drax in this movie wasn’t as bad as I remembered him being. I remembered him as being such a laugh machine (as in he would laugh a ton) compared to the first movie, and was just really distracting and annoying. While it’s still kind of true, I didn’t mind him as much now. Baby Groot from the trailers look like they were going to overuse him to an annoying amount and rely on him too much, but they utilise him well and don’t overdo it. Michael Rooker’s Yondu got to shine a lot more here and he was paired with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon for a large amount of the film, the two of them played off each other very well. Karen Gillan’s Nebula also has her storyline with Saldana’s Gamora, which further developed both characters and their relationship. The newer additions were also good. Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff) unfortunately in both this movie and Infinity War hasn’t been utilised a lot (I’m unfamiliar with the character from the comics), but still she was a nice addition to the group. Kurt Russell was great as Star Lord’s father, Ego, the secret main villain of the movie. In my original review, I mentioned that his character kind of goes downhill after he’s revealed and becomes a typical big CGI villain that needs to be dealt with (or I implied it at least, with it being a non-spoiler review). While he’s not as strong (as in interesting) in the third act, seeing the movie again he still works reasonably well. Sylvester Stallone also appears here, and while the idea of him in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie sounded fantastic, he appears for like two scenes, with the first just being to deliver a bunch of exposition about Yondu. Unless he reappears in the sequel, I’m not exactly sure why he’s here (unless it was only just meant to be a cameo). The characters who suffer the most no doubt were The Sovereign. You see them at the beginning as the Guardians try to escape them after Rocket stole some of their batteries and then at the end when they track them down when they’re facing off against Ego. It’s like they’re only in this movie so that Rocket could steal something that would eventually be used in the climax. When they do show up at the end, they don’t pose really any threat against the Guardians. I guess it wouldn’t feel as bad if a talented person like Elizabeth Debicki wasn’t in the role of the leader of the Sovereign, she really isn’t given anything to do here. Hopefully they get a chance to actually do something in the third movie, one of the credits scenes at least implies that they’ll play a part in the sequel.

James Gunn directed the movie as well as he did with the previous movie. This movie is visually stunning, it really is one of the best looking movies in the MCU. While there weren’t as many action sequences as in the previous movie, they are fast paced and very entertaining. Probably my favourite of these scenes are when Yondu and Rocket are taking back the ship from the mutineers and Yondu’s arrow is flying all around the ship killing people, so well edited and put together (and plus the use of Come a Little Closer by Jay & the Americans helped quite a bit. I loved the soundtrack from the first movie, however the music picks for the second movie are taken to the next level. Brian Tyler’s score also shouldn’t be overlooked.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 worked a lot more for me when I saw it again. It’s a visually stunning and entertaining movie, while also having some very effective emotional bits to it. I still think that the first movie works better but I can appreciate the second movie, and consider it to be in the top 10 best MCU films so far.

The Last Witch Hunter (2015) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Kaulder
Rose Leslie as Chloe
Elijah Wood as Dolan 37
Michael Caine as Dolan 36
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Baltasar Ketola/Belial
Julie Engelbrecht as Witch Queen
Director: Breck Eisner

The modern world holds many secrets, the most astounding being that witches still live among us. Centuries ago, Kaulder (Vin Diesel) managed to slay the all-powerful Witch Queen, decimating her followers in the process. Before her death, she cursed the valiant warrior with her own immortality, separating him from his beloved wife and daughter in the afterlife. Her resurrection now threatens the survival of the human race as Kaulder, the only one of his kind remaining, faces her vengeful wrath.

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I didn’t expect anything special from The Last Witch Hunter, just a silly action fantasy starring Vin Diesel. And… that’s pretty much what I got. Aside from a pretty good performance from Rose Leslie, the most enjoyment that you’d get from The Last Witch Hunter is Vin Diesel and some of the mildly entertaining action scenes.

This film is quite predictable, the plot really isn’t anything special. A lot of the witch and other fantasy elements that you see here, you have seen many times before. The Last Witch Hunter ultimately doesn’t bring anything new to the table to the supernatural/fantasy genre, nor is it done in a unique or interesting way. It’s fairly generic to be honest and it’s not very interesting. The film doesn’t have any real surprises, the only surprise was for the worse because it didn’t really lead to anything and was completely pointless. So no, you shouldn’t go into The Last Witch Hunter for the plot.

Vin Diesel play Vin Diesel… again. He’s not a very good actor and here he acts like how he is in the other movies. If you enjoy watching Vin Diesel play himself, you’ll be fine with him here. A stand out of the movie was honestly Rose Leslie, who between this and Morgan seems to be an actress who can elevate any movie she’s in even slightly even if said movie is not that good. Elijah Wood was pretty good in his role. However the film does something with his character near the end of the movie, which ultimately ends up being pointless and really was questionable. Michael Caine has a very small role, practically a cameo. It’s a wonder why he was even cast (maybe he was paid a lot or something for his less than 5 minutes of screen time) but he seemed to enjoy being in this movie nonetheless. The villains are very boring and uninteresting, particularly the central villain. It’s just another one dimensional take over the world villain, not interesting (visually or as a character), not entertaining (not even unintentionally so), there’s really nothing to say about the villains. The acting from them wasn’t particularly good but I put that up to the writing and characters.

This movie doesn’t have the best special effects and a lot of the time it looks very fake but the action scenes are still entertaining enough. Generally the whole movie feels like a run of the mill fantasy movie, a mediocre one at that. However it is done in a way where you can turn off your brain and just enjoy watching over the top and silly action sequences.

The Last Witch Hunter isn’t a good movie but it entertained me enough. Vin Diesel was Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie was a high point of the movie (and probably the best part of the whole movie) and the action scenes while overblown and not that good were entertaining enough. The Last Witch Hunter can be an enjoyable movie, just don’t expect it to be anything more than just another Vin Diesel action flick.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Xander Cage/xXx
Donnie Yen as Xiang/xXx
Deepika Padukone as Serena Unger
Kris Wu as Harvard “Nicks” Zhou
Ruby Rose as Adele Wolff
Tony Jaa as Talon
Nina Dobrev as Rebecca “Becky” Clearidge
Samuel L. Jackson as NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons
Toni Collette as CIA Agent Jane Marke
Nicky Jam as Lazarus
Rory McCann as Tennyson “The Torch”
Al Sapienza as CIA Director Anderson
Michael Bisping as Hawk
Ariadna Gutiérrez as Gina Roff
Hermione Corfield as Ainsley
Director: D.J. Caruso

After coming out of self-imposed exile, daredevil operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must race against time to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s Box, a device that controls every military satellite in the world. Recruiting a new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of government.

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For some reason I watched the previous xXx movies in preparation for this ‘movie’. The first xXx with Vin Diesel was over the top stupid fun action and I enjoyed it as a guilty pleasure. The second xXx didn’t live up to the previous movie, it just wasn’t as fun, it had an even less charismatic lead with Ice Cube and was mediocre overall. Not even Willem Dafoe could save it. Now the ‘prestigious’ and ‘critically acclaimed’ xXx franchise has a third instalment, with Vin Diesel returning. One wonders why this movie even happened, the last instalment was 12 years ago and none of the movies were that big of hits. After watching this I still don’t understand why this movie got made. It is definitely more entertaining than the previous instalment, but with it feeling so self important and obnoxious at times, it took away from the enjoyment of the movie. I can’t deny that I had an entertaining time watching it for what it is.

There’s nothing to say about plot and character, the plot is some generic action movie plot, the characters are cliché, 2 dimensional and don’t have anything to them and the dialogue is horrendous. However you probably already knew that. The question is, is this movie stupidly fun and entertaining? Yes and no. This movie doesn’t take itself too seriously but yet somehow manages to take itself too seriously at the same time. There are a whole lot of preposterous action set pieces, and a lot of this movie is just entertainingly stupid (and at times its just flat out stupid). At the same time there is a constant feeling of self importance throughout the movie. movie constantly feels arrogant with its writing and style. It feels pretentious, and if you ever want to make an entertaining dumb action flick, you can’t make it pretentious. Commando, Broken Arrow and even the original xXx understood this. The way this movie ends feels like its trying to set up a sequel and its just completely embarrassing after actually watching this movie. For the most part however, it is enjoyable. To this movie’s credit, there was a character reveal that I surprisingly liked.

The acting isn’t very good. Vin Diesel plays Vin Diesel again, he’s pretty much like in the first film. However he seems even more of a jackass this time around. It doesn’t help that Xander is constantly being praised by everyone, there are even literally moments where a bunch of random unnamed women just fawn all over Vin Diesel’s body and find him hot, I’m surprised Diesel didn’t have any writing involvement. Xander’s ‘team’ are a bunch of stereotypical douchebags, none of them are particularly likable, some of them end up being annoying. If there is a particularly character that’s sounds out as being annoying amongst all the rest, its Nina Dobrev’s character. There is a particularly random moment with her and a gun in the third act which made me question why I was watching this movie in the first place. Toni Collette looks like she hated being there, and I can’t really blame her. The only one who makes a real impression is Donnie Yen, he was also really good in his action sequences.

The action scenes were entertaining and the stunts look well choreographed but the editing really hurt the final product. There are so many times in the fight scenes where the editing would be quick cutting unnecessarily, its not Taken 3 levels of editing but its still pretty annoying. The style was also pretty obnoxious, as I said it constantly had some arrogant feeling to it and with its direction it constantly feels like it. When each character is introduced, they have some Suicide Squad esque character introduction. The effects were never that good in the xXx movies but you’d at least hope that they would’ve improved, here the visual effects are quite simply horrendous, there are some green screen that is terrible, especially one absolutely laughable moment in the third act.

As you already knew, xXx 3 is not a good movie but it does have some entertainment value, especially with how over the top it is. However there are some issues with the action and the movie overall has this obnoxious arrogance to it that it can get quite annoying. If you liked the original xXx movie or like over the top stupid action flicks, you might enjoy this. Although it lacks some of the ingredients needed for ‘the perfect stupid action flick’, if you just want to watch a stupid movie, this is definitely your film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot
Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk
Kurt Russell as Ego
Director: James Gunn

The team struggles to keep its newfound family together as it tries to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. At the same time though, I felt a little worried about the movie as its release date got closer and closer, the marketing didn’t really sell this movie as being much more than just more of the same Guardians of the Galaxy. After seeing it I have to say that while it was a lot better than I thought it would be, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. is one of the weaker entries of the MCU. It’s balancing of the humour and handling of the characters really didn’t always work, and it could’ve been handled a lot better. With that said, the movie is entertaining, some of the humour worked and there are some surprisingly effective emotional moments. This movie is still decent overall, the MCU still hasn’t made a bad movie.

This plot of the movie is more personal, as Peter Quill is finally meeting his father Ego. This storyline is the main focus of the movie, and it was great. However, the conclusion of this storyline was quite underwhelming. There are surprisingly some emotional moments, some of them worked, others didn’t work so well (I’ll get to that in a moment). Despite some of the emotional scenes being hit or miss, I can say that there is a certain scene in the last act which is probably one of the best scenes in the MCU, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to when you see it. Now a reason that some of the emotional scenes didn’t work was because a lot of times the humour actually decreases its impact. Something that really needs to be addressed is the humour in this movie. The use of humour was very hit or miss. The first movie had a lot of jokes but it was balanced out well with the characters and story. This movie however hammers you with an overload amount of jokes and at times it felt like (at least early in the movie) it was just relying on that. The first half of the movie is all fun and humour, the second half is more dramatic and ultimately better, even though there is still a little too much humour in there. Overall this movie had my full attention throughout, even if at the times the story wasn’t the strongest, I was at least entertained. As for post credits scenes, there are like 5 mid-credit scenes in the movie, all of them really weren’t needed, some of them could’ve been fitted inside the ending of the movie before the credits rolled. But some of them at the very least have me interested to see what the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie will be. There’s definitely a lot of potential for a great movie.

The actors all do a great job in their roles but the handling of the characters in this movie was a mixed bag. The best character in the movie by far is Michael Rooker’s Yondu, there is more focus on him this time than in the previous movie. He just has so many great moments in the movie. Also, the interactions between him and Rocket Racoon was absolutely perfect. Fantastic paring. Kurt Russell was also a highlight of this movie, it was great seeing him as Ego interact with his son Peter Quill (played of course by Chris Pratt), however as I said earlier, the payoff of that relationship was underwhelming and weak. Still, Kurt Russell played his part well, and was a scene stealer. Most of the original cast worked well. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora got to interact with Karen Gillan’s Nebula quite a lot, which worked well because of the conflict between them, and we also get to learn about Nebula’s history with her father Thanos. However, I felt that the storyline could’ve been a bit stronger and had more focus on it. Baby Groot wasn’t annoying like I thought he would be but he did feel overused and constantly forced into the movie just to be adorable. As for Dave Bautista’s Drax …. he really wasn’t used well at all. When he’s not a complete joke machine, he is laughing, like all the time. Also, there wasn’t really any arc to him. Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance in the movie, he doesn’t play a huge role but he was great in his short screentime and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future. As for the villain of the movie, I won’t go into spoiler territory. But I will say the villain for was great for most of the movie, but then the last act just reduced them to a simplistic typical MCU villain just to make an explosive climax, and ultimately had a poor payoff. Speaking of villains, there are some secondary villains in the movie who pop up every so often to cause problems, they were incredibly pointless and distracting. While in the long run I understand why they were in the movie, they really could’ve been handled better.

Directionwise, what you saw in the first film is what you get in the sequel, just on a much larger scale. The CGI and action were all really good, no real complaints there. The designs of everything from the ships, to the characters, aliens and the worlds are very creative. The makeup on all the types of aliens were also excellent. The soundtrack (as expected it being a Guardians of the Galaxy film) was very entertaining and well suited for the movie and tone with its use of the score and classic music.

Personally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t as good as the original. The handling of the plot was a bit of a mixed bag, not all the characters were used that well, there was a complete overload of jokes, most of it didn’t work within the movie and a lot of it detracted the effectiveness of the emotional moments. Despite all its many faults however, I do think that it’s worth checking this movie out. This movie is still entertaining overall and it has many elements which work very well (with some surprisingly emotional moments too), it’s just that most of them could’ve and should’ve been done better. Still, I recommend watching this, even if you didn’t like the first movie.

The Fate of the Furious (2017) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as Tej Parker
Scott Eastwood as Eric Reisner/Little Nobody
Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey
Kurt Russell as Frank Petty/Mr Nobody
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Director: F. Gary Gray

With Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.

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I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about The Fate of the Furious. I liked all of the previous instalments of the Fast and the Furious franchise (haven’t seen the fourth though), especially the more entries in the series. However, the series has started to feel tired and forced, so I had no idea what I would think of the movie. Honestly, The Fate of the Furious surprised me, it’s one of the best movies in the series, with it being completely over the top, but also having a fitting story which tied everything together well.

What this movie did better than the past two Fast and Furious movies (which I still enjoy) is that it doesn’t focus unnecessary attention on other plot points. In Furious 7, while it’s a revenge story with Statham hunting down Diesel and his crew, it unnecessarily focussed on a pivotal device called ‘God’s Eye’, which it really didn’t need. Fate is a lot more straightforward and benefits a lot from that. I was never bored throughout the movie, the pacing of the movie was quite fast and at the same time it never felt rushed. As for the main plot point of the movie, the reason for Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto betraying his team (without spoiling anything), it is really well done and works for the movie. This movie does work on an emotional level surprisingly, it’s not just entertaining, there’s enough in this movie to actually care about what is going on. I was entertained from start to finish, Fate of the Furious was a very fun ride.

The acting is the same as it is in the other movies but some actual character development is here, meaning that these actors had more to work with than in other movies. Vin Diesel particularly is given quite a lot to work with emotionally and while he’s not that good as an actor, he did well enough in these certain scenes. The acting from the other cast works well enough (even though they aren’t great), there are some stand outs. Dwayne Johnson as usual brings his A-game and charisma, so entertaining to watch. I also really liked Jason Statham here, instead of serving as a villain like in the last movie, his character this time teams up with the main characters and it surprisingly works quite well. While I liked him in Furious 7, the film didn’t use him to his full potential. Here though he gets a lot to do. He is particularly fun in his scenes with Dwayne Johnson, those two verbally sparring were so entertaining to see. However the most stand out performance is Charlize Theron, who without a doubt plays the best villain in the franchise’s history. Not only is she smart, she is also very threatening and scary, making a real impression. Definitely an impressive character and performance for the franchise.

The action is even more over the top than the previous movies, and that’s saying a lot. All the action is completely entertaining. There were two stand out sequences to me, one of them was the Manhattan sequence, in which Theron’s character hacks cars. The other was pretty much the entire final act, which involves cars driving on ice as well as an submarine firing torpedoes at them, and its absolutely insane. It does go on for a little too long but I still enjoyed every moment of it. The laws of physics are defied completely, so of course do not go into this movie expecting any form of realism. If there’s any criticism I had, some of the fight scenes were filmed a little shakily but that is it.

If you don’t like any of the Fast of the Furious movies, you won’t like this movie. If you don’t like the recent movies in this series and prefer the street racer focussed movies, you won’t like this movie. However, if you enjoyed the movies 5-7, you will probably like this movie. It’s not a great movie but it knows what it is, and is endlessly entertaining. I do feel that it would be unnecessary to have more movies in this series, and Fate of the Furious would be a good way to end the main series, but I would like to see spin off movies, especially if its with Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, it has a lot of potential.