Fast X -Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Vin Diesel is back in Fast X

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m here to review the newest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. It’s still pretty fresh in theaters so this will not have any major spoilers. Still, if that sort of thing concerns you, go see the movie first and then come back here to read the review.

Each and every Fast and Furious movie has tried to outdo the last both in stunts and character drama. Going into this film you can expect several huge stunt pieces, lots of talk about family and who is family and whether it’s good to have family or not. There aren’t any cars in space but the stunts are still as big and spectacular as you might imagine.

We have the return of some favorite characters, we have our franchise regulars, and a new cast of enemies. The best addition in this film? One person. Jason Momoa. It’s clear this guy is having the time of his life in this movie and he just chews up that scenery like it’s bubble gum. He’s so into it the movie feels like it just belongs to him and I kept just wanting more of him on screen.

Overall the movie does a good job of bringing together plot points and characters to tie things from previous movies together. On the other hand, the film leaves us with some major questions which I am sure will be answered in the subsequent films.

If you have watched the other movies in this franchise this is a good but not the best entry in the series. It does however have the best villain we’ve seen and that’s saying something. I’m excited to see where they can possibly go from here.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon


F9 – Movie Review

Fast 9 brings back old faces and brings in new ones

Hey fast fans, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review the ninth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. There will be spoilers from some of the previous films as well as this one in this review. If that sort of thing bothers you, watch the movies and then come on back here to read the review. And if you need a refresher on the franchise you can check out my previous reviews. You can read my review of  The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here,  Fast and Furious 6 here,  Furious 7 here, Hobbs and Shaw here and Fate of the Furious here

The Fast and Furious films have consistently tried to outdo themselves. Each one tells a bigger story, has bigger stunts, and introduces us to new characters. It’s a little hard to believe but if you watch the whole series from start to finish you can see how a little group of street racers from Los Angeles turn into a team of elite super spies who consistently save the world. If you get over the silliness of the premise, the ride is always fun for these films. The ninth film came back with more story, more stunts, and new connections to tie everything together.

Did it work as a big blockbuster film or would this have been better left on the shelf?

Let’s dig in and find out.

Spoilers follow below!

We Go Back to the beginning

Way back in the first movie we found out Dom began his life of crime when he beat a man nearly to death with a wrench. And we learned he did that because the man was the race car driver Dom felt was responsible for his father’s death. What we didn’t know was the involvement of Dom’s younger brother Jakob. Jakob was the last person to touch the Toretto engine before the race car blew up. Dom realizes Jakob had cut a fuel line in the engine and Dom forever blames Jakob for the death of their father.

Once Dom is out of prison he tells Jakob he’ll race him. And the result of the wager on the race will determine the fate of both men forever. Dom tells Jakob if Jakob wins he can come back home and they’ll be a family. But if Dom wins, Jakob has to leave forever and never return. Then we see what we can assume is Dom’s first, and most consequential race of his entire lifetime. Dom wins and Jakob leaves.

I should mention in the movie all of this gets revealed in smaller flashbacks throughout the movie while the events of the larger story unfolds.

Thirty years later Dom is raising his son Brian aka “Little B” with his wife Letty. One day Roman, Tej and Ramsey show up at Dom’s door and tell him Mr. Nobody has been attacked by rogue agents and the villain from the last movie, Cipher has been abducted. Dom agrees to help on the mission to find Nobody and secure Cipher only because he knows Jakob is involved. At the site of the crash where Mr. Nobody’s plane went down, the team finds half of a weapon called Project Ares. This is a thing that can hack into and take control of any computer controlled system. Before the team can do anything else, Jakob attacks them and recovers this half of the Ares device. Most of the team is pretty shocked to find out Dom has a brother since he’s all about family and has never mentioned this guy.

The team eventually gets away and they learn the device has something to do with Han who died several films ago. Mia and Letty decide to go to Tokyo to see what the connection is. Jakob is working with a dude named Otto who is basically a wannabe dictator who is the actual son of a dictator. Cipher tells Jakob where the other half of Ares is.

To find Jakob, Dom goes to see the one guy who might know. This is Buddy (Michael Rooker) who was their father’s mechanic and took Jakob in after Dom chased him out of town.

While in Tokyo, Mia and Letty discover that not only is Han alive, he’s been protection a girl named Ellie for years. We get a sort of complicated backstory of how Han is still alive and it basically boils down to Mr. Nobody setting up a fake death for Han so Shaw can’t get to him, and then using Han to try to recover Ares. While trying to recover Ares, Ellie’s parents are killed and Han does the noble thing and protects and raises her.

Meanwhile, Tej and Roman meet up with Sean Boswell who was the main character in Tokyo drift, his buddy Twinkie, and a rocket scientist named Earl Hu. Yes. This is the movie where a Pontiac Fiero goes to outer space. These dudes are trying to figure out how to strap a jet rocket to a car.

Dom finds out from Queenie Shaw exactly where Jakob is because she takes him right there as she is stealing high priced diamonds and cars. Jakob basically tells Dom he has the chance to walk away and never come back. We all know Dom’s never going to do that.

Dom gets arrested but he’s rescued by a woman named Leysa (Cardi B.). Yes. This is the movie with a cameo from Cardi B. because, why not?

From this point on there is a whole bunch of action involving high speed chases, heavy duty electromagnets, a Pontiac Fiero going to space to crash into a satellite, and John Cena as Jakob tossing around like dozens of dudes.

In the end, Dom, of course, forgives Jakob and apologizes because he knows he walked away from his own family. Things end with everyone relatively happy. But we do get a mid credit scene where Shaw is beating on a punching bag where there is an actual human zipped up inside it. And right around then is when Han shows up at Shaw’s door, shocking Shaw since Han is supposed to be dead.

In Conclusion

This movie is sort of insane. I mean putting a car into space and expecting us to believe it? I mean, I don’t believe it but it was fun anyway. Bringing back old dead characters? This is not the first franchise to do that and it won’t be the last. Have a long lost brother come back into the fold of Dom Toretto’s family? Yeah, sure why not?

It’s pretty much a ridiculous film full of almost nothing but nonsense. However, it’s still at its heart about family both found and blood, and it’s an enjoyable wild ride. It’s not the best in the franchise but the stunts here are probably the wildest of them all.

In a lot of ways this franchise has already gone too far with what it does. But since it has, we might as well let them finish and just be along for the ride, whatever comes next.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson star in the Fast & Furious spin off, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m here to review the one and only spinoff movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. In true spinoff fashion, you don’t have to watch this one in order to understand the events of the Fast and Furious movies. If you watch this one, it does help if you have seen the Fast and Furious movies which have Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) in them but it’s not totally necessary. The main things you need to know before watching the movie are pretty basic. Hobbs is a cop, Shaw is a criminal and the two of them hate one another. Other than that, just buckle up for the ride.

There will be some spoilers for this movie and possibly from Fast and Furious movies below so be forewarned.

This film takes two of the most popular characters from the Fast and Furious films, gets rid of the rest of the main characters, amps up the action and comedy but reduces the emphasis on driving fast cars. Was this film worth it or should we have just left Hobbs and Shaw in the original films? Let’s dig in and find out.

It’s a Rom-COM but with Bullets

Want a couple of good reasons to watch this other than Hobbs and Shaw? Let’s start with Idris Elba (Brixton Lore) and Ryan Reynolds (Victor Locke). They’re both entertaining as always. And there is an appearance by Kevin Hart that works pretty well too.

The movie starts with a contrast between the morning routines of Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Shaw is refined and wealthy and Hobbs is a by the book government spy. They both get a call from people they trust. It seems there is a woman they both need to find. This is Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) Hattie. Also trying to get to her is Brixton Lore who is a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist capable of taking both Shaw and Hobbs out.

Turns out Hattie is carrying a virus inside herself and it needs to be extracted so Brixton doesn’t unleash it on the world. Hobbs and Shaw will have to team up to save her and to extract the virus without killing her and without getting killed by Brixton.

There’s a whole bunch of back and forth action and Hobbs and Shaw insulting one another. In the end they win against the bad guy, save the woman, and have a little more respect for one another.

The stunts here are not as spectacular as in the main films but the hand to hand fighting and shootouts are all great. Hobbs uses his size to gain advantage while Shaw uses speed and superior fighting skill to stop foes. But they are both evenly matched by Lore since he has advantages they can’t have.

We find out Shaw was set up to be the bad guy in the past and he’s not as bad as Hobbs thinks. We also get some backstory about Hobbs and why he isn’t in contact with his brother in Samoa.

Of course in the end Hobbs and Shaw have to work together to defeat Brixton with the help of a bunch of people. There’s more stunts, a little romance between Hobbs and Hattie Shaw and in the end our heroes win out.

In Conclusion

As far as an action film goes this one is fine. It’s not as engaging as the other Fast and Furious films but it’s still a decent watch. You don’t really need to know much about any of the rest of the movies for it to work. This does set up for a sequel but I’m not sure it’s needed.

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise you may want to watch this just to complete the set but it’s absolutely skippable if you don’t want to watch it.

Statham and Johnson are good together and it’s a fun time but it’s not essential vieweing.

Argumentatively yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fate of the Furious – Movie Review

Icy stunts are featured in Fate of the Furious

Hey Fast fans, it’s Slick Dungeon back to review yet another film in this huge franchise. The Fate of the Furious is the eighth film in the series and it’s just as full of ridiculous over the top stunts as you can possibly get. Until they make the next one that is. Note there will be spoilers here so if you haven’t seen the first eight of these movies you may want to watch before reading. I do have reviews of the first seven films if you want to save some time though. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here,  Fast and Furious 6 here, and Furious 7 here.

The seventh film was the last one with Paul Walker in it. This movie had to continue the franchise, try to tie up some loose ends, be a spectacular action film, and provide a coherent plot with a great villain all while including a huge roster of characters. It’s a pretty big to do list for a film. Did this one pull off a stunt worthy of a torpedo sliding along the ice at high velocity or was it just an exploding submarine of a film?

Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

Dom’s Gone Rogue

In this movie there’s a pretty complicated set up but I am going to try to summarize it the best I can. Deep breath. A few films ago, Dom thought his lifelong love Letty was dead and he was dating a woman named Elena. But Letty actually wasn’t dead, she had just lost her memory. Dom found out and rescued Letty, becoming a super spy in the process along with the rest of his team who have all gone from petty theft to global espionage because they are good at racing cars. Dom is on his long awaited honeymoon with Letty in Cuba where he races a local racer named Raldo so he can keep his cousin’s car from being taken. Dom takes the worst car in Havana to race against the fastest car there. With a bit of Dom’s magic engineering skills, including ripping doors off of the car with his bare hands, he wins the race even when Raldo cheats. But Dom does win the dude’s respect.

Also, in the last two films, Dom and his team have stopped a pair of brothers with the last name Shaw and a guy named Mose Jakande and saved the world in the process.

The thing that means the most in the world to Dom is family and that’s how he treats his team. All in all, Dom is a good guy who might be a little rough around the edges but you can count on him when you need him.

So, it’s extra strange when Dom is stopped by a woman who acts as if she needs help fixing her car. Turns out she rigged the car because she wants to get Dom to not only work for her, but betray his whole team. This woman is Cypher (Charlize Theron) and she shows him a video on her phone. We don’t see what it is but it’s enough to get Dom to agree.

Hobbs, one of the heroes of the last few films is recruited back to work to track down an EMP which can take out the functions of a city block. Hobbs goes to Dom’s team for help. We never actually see how the team recovers the EMP but things are exploding everywhere and they make it clear this is Roman’s fault. At the end of the job, Dom and Hobbs split off from the group and Dom rams his car into Hobbs to steal the EMP. Hobbs is unable to get out of the wrecked car in time, despite, you know, surviving an explosion and jumping out of a fourth story window and being mostly fine in the last movie. Anyway for the movie to happen Dom needs to get the EMP thing.

He delivers it to Cypher and it’s clear Dom is under her thumb. Mr. Nobody from the last movie gets Dom’s team together as well as Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw are the only two people in the world who have successfully located Dom when he didn’t want to be found. They hate each other but they have to work together.

There’s a bit of back and forth with the team trying to use God’s eye from the last movie and Cypher hacking back so they can’t. They pinpoint Dom to be right where they are. Dom and Cypher and the rest of her team attack and Dom gets God’s eye. Letty knows there is something wrong here and can’t believe Dom ever really betrayed them.

The team next see Dom in New York City where he is working with Cypher to get the nuclear codes from a Russian diplomat. Cypher is able to hack all the computerized systems in the cars in the area and the movie must have set a record for destroying the most cars in a single movie ever with that sequence. The team catches up to Dom but try as they might, he’s too good for them and gets away.

We find out Dom is being controlled by Cypher because it turns out when he and Elena were together, she got pregnant and Dom is now a father. Cypher has Elena and their son locked up in a secure glass cage under threat of death if Dom disobeys. Although it seems he is turning his back on his team who is his family, he’s really just doing what he always does, he’s protecting his family. Cypher hates Dom because the last two bad guys he has taken down were basically working for Cypher. She also has Elena killed so we know Dom is going to be royally pissed.

There’s an insane amount of stunt set pieces going on in the film. There’s a sequence involving a bunch of cars racing on ice in Russia, a sequence of Jason Statham having a shootout on an airplane while holding a baby, at one point Dwayne Johnson pulls out a concrete bench from a wall and does bicep curls with it, four cars try to draw and quarter Dom’s car but are unsuccessful, oh and did I mention Helen Mirren is in this?! Yeah she plays the Shaw boys’ mother. Plus, there is a nuclear submarine which is “car-jacked” although I would say it should be called submarine-jacking but whatever.

Basically if you took all the ingredients of an action film and threw them against a wall to see what sticks, it is in this movie.

And of course, Dom has set things up so he and his team will be safe and victorious. He even brokers a deal with Shaw’s mother so they help him out. Deckard and Owen Shaw rescue the baby. Dom comes to the aid of his team just in the knick of time and Cypher is forced to parachute out of her own plane, setting her up as a return villain.

The team learn Dom has a kid and they understand why he had to act the way he did so they can all be together as family once again. Even Shaw is not completely unwelcome, except Hobbs still hates him (but that’s a tale for a spinoff movie)

And in a gesture to Paul Walker, Dom names his kid Brian. We leave the team in relative safety but with the looming threat of Cypher still out there.

In Conclusion

I tried to summarize things above but there is so much happening in these movies at this point it would be nearly impossible to catch it all. I didn’t even get into the side competition of Roman and Tej vying for the affections of Ramsey, nor did I talk about how Scott Eastwood comes on as the new guy working with Mr. Nobody.

If it sounds like there is just too much happening in this movie, well, yeah there is. But who cares? This franchise has driven off the cliff of believability long ago. It’s also quietly and without fanfare built up one of the most diverse casts in film franchise history. (Would be nice to see some LGBTQ representation here though) And for whatever reason, this cast of people who start out as petty thieves somehow become more or less believable as super spies. I mean the stuff they are doing defies physics in every way possible turning this into a superhero movie franchise essentially but the character drama is real. When Dom turns on Letty, it hurts as an audience member but we also know Letty won’t give up on him. And I honestly defy anyone who has come this far with the series to say they didn’t have a good time watching this. Are there huge plot holes? Yup. Are there moments with extremely weird and cheesy dialogue like, “I am the crocodile at the watering hole?” Yup. Does any of that matter? Nope. They’ve built up enough good will here with solid hits and being able to top themselves every time that I am just along for the ride.

Sure, there are movies in this series I prefer more than others. I really like the first, third and fifth movies myself but on the whole, no notes from me for these movies. And while Fate of the Furious may not be critically beloved or even have the biggest fan base as far as the rest of the movies in the series go, it’s still a solid action film full of great stunts, good character drama, and twists at every turn.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Furious 7 – Movie Review

Vin Diesel and Jason Statham star in Furious 7

Hey action film fans, Slick Dungeon here! I’ve made it through seven, yes seven, Fast and Furious films in the lead up to the new one releasing this week. The seventh film ditches the word fast and is just called Furious 7. There was definitely not a plan of how to name these movies but whatever. This review will have spoilers for the first seven films in the franchise. If you haven’t watched the movies you may want to buckle up and drive furiously over to see the movies and then get back here fast to read the review. You can also take a look at my reviews of the first six films. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here, and Fast and Furious 6 here.

Having six films already made means you are guaranteed to have people come to the theater to see the next movie. However, this franchise was dependent on two stars who really made the movies work, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Both of them are in this movie, but tragedy struck before it was complete. Sadly, Paul Walker died in a car crash as a passenger of all things before the film was finished. Most of his scenes had been completed but there are a few spots where a combination of stand-ins, stunt men, and CGI had to take over the job for the deceased actor.

So, with some clear disadvantages this film still had to deliver an action packed story, wrap up some loose ends from the previous movie, and finish the film without one of the two main stars. Did the movie deliver or is it one that signals the franchise has run out of steam and should possibly be retired?

Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

We’re all Back Home

The start of the film has Brian, Dom, Mia and the rest of the gang back home where they belong in Los Angeles. They are leading normal lives (at least for them). Brian isn’t driving fast cars, he’s taking his son, Jack to school in a minivan. Dom is still working on his dad’s car like always. Han has gone to Tokyo and this movie is where the timeline starts to really catch up so we can place Tokyo Drift right around the events that start this film.

Owen Shaw, the big bad guy of the previous film, has been hospitalized and his older brother Deckard is now out for revenge. He is planning to find out who put his brother in the hospital and take everyone responsible for it down.

To find out who did it, Deckard Shaw heads to LA and breaks into Hobbs’ office. He downloads the file on Dom’s team and ends up in a fight with Hobbs. While Hobbs is huge, Shaw is a skilled fighter and extremely fast. But he also cheats. He basically blows up Hobbs’ office, causing Hobbs to jump out of a window to save a fellow cop. This leaves Shaw with the file, Hobbs in the hospital and Dom unaware of what is going on.

Mia tells Dom she’s pregnant again and Brian is struggling to find meaning in the slower paced life he now has. She hasn’t told Brian about the pregnancy. Before she can have that conversation, Dom gets a package from Tokyo. Then he gets the call from Deckard Shaw we saw at the end of the last movie. The package was a letter bomb which destroys Dom’s house. Everyone is okay but it’s a close call.

Dom’s not Happy

Dom then finds out Hobbs is in the hospital and asks Hobbs how to find Shaw. Hobbs tells him Shaw is a ghost, the government won’t allow anyone to go after him, but he knows Dom is going to go anyway. Dom goes to Tokyo and we see the end scene from Tokyo Drift, although we don’t see the race between Sean and Dom. Still, we all know Dom would make mince meat out of the guy. Anyway, Sean gives Dom the necklace of Letty’s found at the crash where Han died. Dom knows this is a message to him.

At Han’s funeral in LA, Dom, Tej, Brian and Roman mourn the loss of their friends. Dom sees Deckard Shaw and goes after him in an underground tunnel. The two get into a head on collision and Dom gets ready to fight. Shaw has a gun on Dom and it looks pretty bad when suddenly a bunch of military troops descend on the scene and save Dom. Turns out this team is led by a man named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel) who is a super secret spy operative for the government.

Apparently there is a device called the “God’s eye” which is capable of using all cell phone cameras, security devices and pretty much anything electronic in the world to find someone through facial recognition. It’s pretty much able to see anyone anywhere anytime someone wants. It’s made by a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is the only one capable of disabling it. Mr, Nobody wants Dom and his team to get Ramsey from a mercenary who has kidnapped her named Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). In exchange, Mr. Nobody will let Dom use God’s eye to find Shaw.

In order to get Ramsey, Dom and his team will have to get onto a road in the mountains that is not normally accessible. The only way to do it is go by air. So, yes, this is the movie where they drop cars out of the back of an airplane and have the cars parachute onto the road. It’s a ridiculously insane stunt and I love it.

There’s a chase, a big shootout, a whole bunch of action but Dom’s team does get Ramsey. Ramsey agrees to help the team because she can tell a group as varied as this is either led by fear or loyalty. And she doesn’t see any fear of Dom from anyone on the team. But, to get God’s eye, they have to go to Abu Dhabi where a Saudi prince has installed a chip containing God’s eye into his car which is on the top penthouse of the tallest building in the world. Yeah, this is also the movie where they drive a car through three of the tallest buildings in the world. It’s a spectacular stunt.

Shaw is not so Easy to Catch

With God’s eye in hand, Dom is able to figure out where Shaw is at. He, Brian, and Mr. Nobody go to get the bad guy but they are ambushed when Jakande and his men show up. Mr. Nobody is injured but Brian and Dom make it out of there. But Jakande ends up with God’s eye.

Dom still has Ramsey though so he has a new plan. He’s going to head back to LA, let Shaw come after him, let Jakande come after Ramsey, and stop them all. How? Because he and his team know the streets of LA better than anyone.

Dom plans to take Shaw on himself. The rest of the team need to keep Ramsey close enough to the God’s eye she can hack into it but not so close she gets killed in the process. There’s a huge chase around LA, there are some fantastic car stunts, especially when two cars drift around each other and simultaneously pass Ramsey through the windows. Jakande comes with a full military assault drone and helicopter. Meanwhile Dom and Shaw face off once again. In the chaos of it all there is an explosion Hobbs sees so he…. umm… flexes his arm to break out of his cast… takes some pain meds… and is totally fine. Yeah, I guess the Rock is just a superhuman in these movies? I mean, that’s what he plays in most movies so, sure why not?

Dom battles Shaw to a standstill. Hobbs helps distract the helicopter. Brian has to go fix a satellite relay. In this scene you notice the absence of Paul Walker because in most of it, his face is in shadows or turned away. It still makes sense as far as the actions go but it’s pretty obvious this is mostly stunt coordination here.

And at one point Dom gets Shaw to fall through a broken street (yeah you read that right) and then uses his car to attach a bag of grenades to a helicopter midair (still read that right) which Hobbs then shoots and makes the helicopter explode. Dom nearly dies. Brian gives CPR with the help of Letty but she makes him stop so she can tell Dom she remembers everything at last. This is including the fact they were married. So Letty is all the way back and Dom is alive. But, just a little side PSA for folks here. Don’t stop CPR in the middle to try and bring someone back by telling them you remember stuff. If someone is in need of CPR continue until either trained medical professionals come, the person regains consciousness, or you become too exhausted to continue. Just figured I would put that here in case I ever need CPR, thanks.

We also see Hobbs put Shaw into a maximum security prison but it’s clear we are nowhere near done with Shaw in this series.

The end of the movie is kind of hard to watch. It’s not a bad ending by any means. It’s Dom talking about family and the usual stuff but it’s with the backdrop of Paul Walker’s death. They end the movie with Dom and Brian racing up to one another and Brian saying he can’t let Dom go without saying goodbye. They do use a CGI Brian here but it’s still really emotional and then they end the movie with a montage of Brian and some of his best moments from all the films. Not the ones full of stunts, but the ones where there are personal character connections and it’s really well done.

In Conclusion

Look, after seven films, I am totally beyond caring if stunts even sort of make sense here. So many people should have died in so many ways in this movie but it’s a roller coaster of a ride and I am here for it. The plot is a bit forced here with the whole God’s eye thing but Shaw makes a great villain. And there are still some great character moments between Brian and Mia and Letty and Dom. Without those moments throughout this franchise, we’d never buy Dom’s whole, “I don’t have friends, I have family,” routine.

From here on out I give this franchise full permission to pull off the most insane stunts they can because they want to. Just don’t forget to have those small moments in there too.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast & Furious 6 – Movie Review

Fast & Furious 6 brings the biggest stunts so far

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m back to review the sixth in a long line of Fast and Furious movies. This one is called Fast & Furious 6 and there will be spoilers for all six films in this review. If you need to, hop in your tank, catch up to a plane in take off, harpoon the movies, watch them, and race on back here to read the review. Or you can read my previous reviews instead. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, and Fast Five here.

After five movies of fast cars, big stunts, certain characters coming in and out it seemed like Fast and Furious might have run out of ways to tell the same story. In order for the sixth film to be successful a truly new direction was needed. But what do you do with a group of illegal street racers who used to steal DVD’s? Obviously you still want this to be an action film, so stunts are required. There has to be a bad guy but there are so many people on Dom’s team, one bad guy is not really enough. So what was the solution? Why, make the whole team a group of super spies of course!

I know it sounds ridiculous but this franchise had already pulled off some unlikely stuff. So, did Fast and Furious 6 deliver on its promise or is it a forgettable sequel in a warmed over franchise? Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

We’re spies Now

This film doesn’t start off with a huge stunt. It still starts with a couple of cars racing. This time, it’s Dom and Brian. But this isn’t for pink slips, it’s not to outrun a bad guy. Nope, this time they are racing to a hospital where Mia is giving birth to her and Brian’s son. It’s a fairly quiet beginning to a movie in this franchise. Dom and Brian are sure that Brian at least is out of this life of crime they have been leading from here on out. He’s got major responsibilities and putting his life in danger when there is a baby around is just irresponsible.

This lasts for maybe five whole minutes of the movie. We see Hobbs, the agent from the last movie who had it out for Dom. He’s investigating crimes in London that have been happening against Interpol. These robberies are being pulled off by a team that can get in and out of a place in ninety seconds or less. We sort of assume this would be Dom’s team and Hobbs goes into an interrogation room where there is someone who looks a lot like Dom from the back. But it’s not Dom. Hobbs throws this guy around the room until he finds out some vital information about where a man named Shaw’s team will strike next. Hobbs knows he is going to be one step behind so he decides to bring in some help. He finds Dom.

Dom doesn’t have a lot of reason to help Hobbs out. He’s in a country with no extradition, he’s wealthy and as far as he knows all the people he cares about are safe. Turns out he’s not quire right about that. Hobbs has a picture of Letty taken a couple of weeks ago. This should be impossible since Letty was supposedly dead. But if she is alive, this is the one person in the world Dom would want to help out.

So, of course, Dom gets his team together. We get most of the regulars from the first five films but this time they are working for Hobbs. Dom is just doing it so he can find Letty and that’s good enough for most of them but Brian is missing home so he wants the deal to be that everyone gets pardoned in exchange for helping. Hobbs agrees to the deal.

Hobbs shows them Shaw’s team and they are basically like an evil version of Dom’s team, almost one for one. There’s even a guy who is as big as or bigger than Hobbs.

Dom and his team try to stop the robbery by Shaw’s team but they have specially made cars that cause other cars to basically flip over on impact. They are some kind of modified formula 1 racers. At one point Letty sees Dom and shoots him. The team is able to figure out that there can’t be that many people in London who can make cars like this so they track down someone who must be connected. Before they get full information, someone comes in and kills the guy who made the modifications but not before he drops a name. Braga. This is a drug lord Brian put away a couple of movies ago.

Brain feels guilty for having Letty become an informant against Braga because this put her life in danger. To make things right, Brian decides to sneak into and out of America to see Braga in prison. Brian finds out Braga was being directed by Shaw the whole time. And we find out that when Braga’s man went to kill Letty, he didn’t shoot her, he shot her car instead. The resulting explosion knocked Letty from the crash site and caused her to lose her memory.

Meanwhile, Han finds out about a street race Dom can enter where Letty will be. Dom races Letty and beats her handily but he starts to reconnect with her. Her memories aren’t back but it’s clear she feels a connection to Dom.

Hobbs finds out Shaw intends to get a final component to a device that can essentially blind all electronic systems in a country. This thing is worth billions. Hobbs also knows the location where the component is being held so he figures they can catch Shaw there. But Dom and Brian realize Shaw is not going for the location, he plans to attack the convoy transporting the device.

There is a super complicated action sequence involving a tank, high tension harpoons, and a death defying jump in the air which almost undoubtedly should have killed both Dom and Letty.

After that there is another huge action sequence involving an airplane, high tension harpoons, and driving a car through the nose of a plane on fire. Yeah, it’s all ridiculous but in the most fun way possible. Han loses Gisele in the action. Presumably she dies but you never know with this franchise. Owen Shaw also falls out of an airplane so again, presumably dies.

At the end of the movie, Dom demands his payment for the job. 1327. That’s the address of his home in Los Angeles. Dom and his family are able to go home, free and clear, no longer criminals. Brian and Mia get to be home and raise their son.

And finally, Han makes it to Tokyo. We see the chase where Han’s car is overturned and explodes. But this time, there is someone there who drops Letty’s necklace at the scene. We don’t know who this is yet but he’s played by Jason Statham and he becomes a major part of the franchise. We’ll get to him later.

In Conclusion

Is this movie ridiculous not only in plot but in the death defying stunts? Absolutely. Is this film a great time at the theater because of all that? Again, absolutely.

Also, knowing that before filming of Fast & Furious 7 is complete, Paul Walker dies, a lot of these scenes hit with more emotional intensity than one would expect. I know we really say goodbye to Brian as a character and Paul Walker as a person in the seventh film but in a lot of ways, this movie feels like a goodbye to him. Particularly heartbreaking is a scene where Mia gives Brian the go ahead to help Dom out because they watch each others backs. She tells them, “You’re better together.” And this is true both for the characters of the film and for the two actors. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are completely at their best when they are on screen at the same time.

From this point on in the series you have to either decide to keep watching, crazy stunts, insane villains, and car thieves becoming super spies and be all in on it or pretty much just stop watching. I for one, think it’s still a lot of fun and as odd and unlikely as everything is, I still just have a good time watching these, this sixth one included.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast Five – Movie Review

Fast Fine ups the stunts

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m back for the fifth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise, just called Fast Five. This review is going to have spoilers for the first five movies in the franchise so if you haven’t seen them yet, hop in your ten second car, buckle up, hit that NOS button to get to the movies, speed watch through them and race on back here so fast police security cameras can’t spot you, and read the review after. Or, you can read my reviews of the first four films instead. You can check out my review of The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here and Fast and Furious here.

The first four Fast and Furious movies sort of fall into a similar pattern. There’s a set of outlaws, there are cops trying to catch the outlaws, usually there is a drug deal going down, and there is a race that settles things. While that is certainly simplifying the movies, they did essentially pull this trick off over and over again. But with the end of the fourth film, the franchise set itself up to be able to change direction, introduce new characters, bring beloved characters together in the same film, and sort of change the DNA of what a Fast and Furious film could be. That’s a lot to ask of a film so pulling it off would be a particularly challenging feat.

So, did the movie deliver, not just on more action, more stunts, more cars and more races, but also make the films something more than a standard playbook? Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

The Whole BAnd Gets Together

At the end of the fourth movie, Dom Toretto was in a bus on his way to jail. But, Brian was about to pull off a major escape plan for Dom. There’s a stunt at the beginning where the team makes the bus roll over, allowing Dom to escape. Somehow no one is killed in the crash but we’ll just go with that. With Dom’s release this makes Brian, Mia, Tego Leo, Rico Santos and Dom all wanted fugitives.

They go on the run to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although Dom is separated from the group. Brian and Mia are trying to lay low and they go to see Vince from the first movie. Vince is leading a fairly decent life and even has a little family. But Vince also has a way for Brian and Mia to get enough money to live for a while. There’s a job where they can steal some cars off of a moving train. Vince, Mia and Brian go to do the job, along with a couple of guys who work for a drug lord named Herman Reyes. This guy runs everything in Rio. In the middle of the job, Brian realizes the cars they are stealing are impounded by the DEA, and Dom shows up out of nowhere to help steal the vehicles. The guys working for Reyes are interested in one particular car but Dom arranges it so Mia gets that car and drives off with it. In the middle of the job, two DEA agents are killed by Reyes’ men. The theft sequence is a lot of fun and it’s a pretty big set piece with lots of fast cars, explosions, and physics defying action.

Dom and his people get the car Reyes’ men wanted back to his garage. Inside the car, they find out there is a computer chip that’s really important to Reyes for some reason.

Next we get introduced to a major character in the franchise. DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson) is a no nonsense officer who is willing to take down his man with efficiency and precision. He’s after Brain and Dom and heads to Brazil to get them. He also recruits a rookie police officer who can’t be corrupted because she’s got it out for Reyes. Everyone else in Rio is on Reyes’ payroll. Hobbs figures out there is something missing from the car in the garage Dom was using.

Meanwhile, Dom figures out the chip is a delivery schedule which has every location where Reyes is conducting his illegal business. Dom has a plan to get everyone out of the life they are living, no longer worried about being on the run from the law. But he’s going to need a team.

This is where we get a bunch of characters from the previous films to come together for the first time. We have Brian, Mia, and Dom together but we also add Roman and Tej from the second film, Han from the third film, and Gisele from the fourth film. Dom explains what everyone’s role is and the movie, in essence becomes a heist film from here on out.

Dom finds one of Reyes’ drug spots, gathers all the money there together and burns it, telling the henchmen that Dom is coming for all of Reyes’ money. This causes Reyes to consolidate his funds.

And consolidate he does. Reyes owns the city so much that he is able to put all of his money into a police station for safe keeping. It’s over a hundred million dollars so if they pull off the job, everyone will get around eleven million a piece. They have to get some fast cars together, figure out how to bypass security, and get away without being caught by Hobbs.

At one point Hobbs catches up with Dom and tries to arrest him but it’s in the middle of a huge crowd and Dom just straight up has Hobbs and his men outgunned so Hobbs walks away. But Dom notices the rookie officer found the cross necklace Dom got from Letty around her neck. He goes to get it back from the rookie cops apartment and she lets him go because she believes Dom didn’t kill the men on the train.

Dom and our gang of anti-heroes try to get cars that can go fast enough to get past security cameras but even the fastest cars with the best drivers are spotted. But Dom still has a plan. Also, Gisele flirts with Reyes and gets his fingerprints from her bikini so they will be able to open the safe.

Dom’s plan for cars that can get in and out of the police station? It’s fantastic. Steal the cop cars. Such a bold idea and it’s one of the best parts of the whole movie. Dom, Roman, Han, and Brian bet each other a million dollars on the race out of there with the police cars. And this tine, Dom doesn’t cheat, there is no NOS, and driver to driver, Brian finally wins. But Roman and Han say Dom let off the throttle and let him win, leaving the audience and Brian with doubts of who is really the best driver.

Vince, who has split off from the group because he was in with Reyes’ men, grabs Mia before Reyes’ men can kill her. Vince gets to be part of the family again. And Dom says he can be part of the job to steal the money.

Also, Mia is pregnant, and Roman says Dom letting Brian win was a baby gift. Dom makes a toast to family and they get ready for the big job.

Cops descend on MIa, Brian Dom, and Vince. Dom stays to let everyone get away and we get to see a fight between Hobbs and Toretto. These are two huge dudes who do major damage to everything around them, including crashing through walls. Dom has Hobbs dead to rights and could smash his head in with a wrench but he doesn’t. Hobbs manages to take in Vince, Brian, Dom and Mia. But he hasn’t caught the rest of the team.

On the way to the station, Hobbs is attacked by Reyes’ men. The rookie officer decides to cut Mia, Dom, Vince and Brian loose so they have a chance of surviving. Most of Hobbs’ men are killed and just when it seems Hobbs is about to die, our heroes save him.

Vince has been shot and he tells Dom he has to meet Vince’s son Nico. Nico is named after Dominic. Vince’s death is pretty personal for Toretto since this is a guy he’s known since they were little kids. Dom is determined to finish the job. Most of the team doesn’t want to but Hobbs says he’ll go with Dom, at least until Reyes is dead. After that, the rest of the team agrees to go along with the original plan.

The remainder of the movie is big stunts, fast action, and pure fun. Hobbs drives a truck through the police station walls so Brian and Dom can tow a huge vault along the streets of Rio. We’re beyond caring about the physics of things in these movies now but it looks great.

You can probably imagine the ending here. Dom’s team ends up with the money. Hobbs gives Dom 24 hours to get away which is plenty of time for him. Brian and Mia end up on a beach in a place where we can assume there is no extradition, with Mia showing her pregnancy. Han and Giselle end up together, Roman and Tej stay friends and rivals, and Dom goes to visit Brian and Mia. We end the movie with Brian essentially challenging Dom to a final race, driver to driver, no tricks, no cheating. We don’t see that in this movie though.

In Conclusion

A lot of the movies in this franchise are hit or miss but this one ends up being too much fun not to like. This takes us from a repetitive series of races to something else. While there are still quiet, and important, character moments, the real spectacle of these films starts to shine here. The stunts are huuuge and impressive. The car racing is fantastic and this film gives the whole series some much needed new direction. And adding a good foil in The Rock really helps as well.

In the end this one gives a lot of the vibes of the first one. It’s basically a good time at the theater and I can’t really find fault with that.

If you haven’t seen this one in a while, it’s totally worth a rewatch.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

A pair of races show off the signature drift in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I thought I would drift on over to you to review the third film in the Fast and Furious franchise, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Be forewarned there are spoiler for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift in this review. So, if you have not seen those films, buckle your seatbelts. hit your NOS, take a sharp turn, watch the movies and race on back here to read the review.

If you want to see my previous reviews you can check out the review for The Fast and the Furious here and my review for 2 Fast 2 Furious here.

Also, before this gets mentioned in the comments below, yes I know, this order is not the best way to watch the movies, but the theater where they are showing these is putting them on in release order so there you have it. I will be reviewing in release order but the chronology definitely gets a bit weird with watching them that way so just bear with me.

The first movie gave us a glimpse into the niche underground world of illegal street racing in Los Angeles. The second movie lost one of the main stars with Vin Diesel unable to return but gave us a pretty standard action film full of fast cars and furious drug lords. So where did that leave us for the third film? In Tokyo… for, umm… some reason? But yes the Fast and Furious series first goes international with this film which does not focus on the stars from either of the first two films.

This movie needed to please action fans, bring people who were familiar to franchise back to the box office without its main stars and do so in a setting the movies hadn’t explored at all.

So, did the film accomplish this objective or did it just drift right into a side wall and crumple any chance of future films? Let’s dig in and find out.

Spoilers follow below!

Bro, Do You Even Drift?

The film starts out with our main character, Sean Boswell getting into an altercation with a fellow high school student. They have beef with each other so what’s the best way to solve it? Yeah, a race, of course. Sean races a guy named Clay in a suburban construction site where new homes are being built. Sean wins the race but Clay’s Ferrari is demolished and so is Sean’s car. Sean literally drives his car through a wooden frame of a house. Apparently Sean has a history of this kind of behavior and as a result, he has a choice to either go to jail or go live with his estranged father who is a Navy officer stationed in Tokyo, Japan.

Sean arrives on the scene, not too happy about his fate and is given two rules by his father. First, he’s supposed to come straight home after school and second, he’s supposed to stay away from driving any cars. Guess what rules he breaks? We see a scene of Sean getting used to school in Japan where he meets Twinkie (Bow Wow) who is an army brat hustler, and Neela (Nathalie Kelley) a girl who seems interested in Sean but is dating someone else.

After school, Sean goes with Twinkie to an underground race. There he meets DK, which stands for Drift King (Brian Tee) and Han Lue (Sung Kang). Sean learns a few things pretty quickly. First, DK is connected to the Yakuza. Second, Han seems to be more cool and collected than DK. And most importantly, he learns this underground race circuit is nothing like the one he is used to. Instead of a ten second drag race, these races rely on a new maneuver we learn about called drifting. Essentially the car makes a sliding turn and glides along the track. Sean doesn’t have anything to race but Han gives the dude a chance and loans him his car. And it turns out Sean is a terrible driver. He smashes the hell out of the car and barely even finishes the race.

The next day Han shows up and tells Sean he has to go collect money from a Sumo wrestler. Sean does it but it doesn’t go well. But, Sean is now essentially working for Han because Han knows it gets under DK’s skin. Also, Han agrees to teach Sean how to drift. Sean is still a terrible driver. He gets more intimate with Neela, which makes DK really mad because she is his girlfriend. Sean improves his drifting skills just enough to beat out one of DK’s thugs, although he still damages the car a bit. DK finds out about Sean and Neela and DK beats the crap out of Sean.

Han tells Sean he only races if it’s for something really meaningful. He’s not that interested in winning. Han shows off his drifting skills to impress some women and it’s clear Han is a much better driver than even DK.

DK’s uncle who is the Yakuza member of the family shows DK that Han has been stealing from them. Enraged, DK comes to Han’s garage where Han admits to stealing, saying they are not in the boy scouts. Twinkie causes a distraction to allow his friends to get away. DK chases after everyone and there is an insane moment where the cars drift through Shibuya crossing, the most heavily crossed intersection in the entire world, and go on this huge car chase. Han proves he’s the best driver in the movie by getting between DK and Sean, allowing his friends to get away. But in the end, Han flips his car. We see him trapped in the vehicle and the whole thing explodes. (Write this down cause several movies later this will be a thing)

Sean heads back to his dad’s place where there’s an armed standoff but Sean’s dad is a no nonsense Navy officer so DK leaves. In an attempt to fix things, Sean decides to go see DK’s uncle. Twinkie gives Sean some money so DK’s uncle won’t just kill him on sight. Sean somehow makes it in to see the uncle and he proposes a peaceful solution which will satisfy DK, Sean and DK’s uncle. Guess what it was? (Checks notes) Yep, a race! If Sean can drift race down a mountain before DK can, DK has to leave town. And vice versa. For some reason, the Yakuza member is totally good with the plan that might get his nephew kicked out of town forever.

There’s a race and Sean bangs his car up really bad but DK literally ends up driving off the mountainside. DK seems like he’s ok though. Sean gets to stay and be part of the Tokyo drift scene and he also gets the girl.

But what About that CAmeo?

If after reading all of that, you started to wonder if you were really watching a Fast and Furious movie at all, don’t worry, there’s a cameo and it’s possibly the best part of the movie. Sean is ready to race when he’s told there’s a challenger who wants to meet him. This is a guy who has been beating drivers all over Asia. And what’s more, he is said to have known Han, who he considered, “family.” And, yes, as soon as we heard that the audience assumed this had to be one of two people, either Brian or Dom, but most likely Dom. And sure enough Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto shows up. He tells Sean he got the car he is driving after beating his friend Han. Sean warns him that this is no ten second race. Dom replies he’s got nothing but time.

Any objective observer watching these movies would know, Sean is one hundred percent going to crash his car and Dom Toretto is going to smoke him with superior driving skills. In fact, out of all the heroes in all the Fast and Furious movies, I think Sean is the only one who crashes, or at least hits walls, ever single time he gets behind the wheel. Dom will eat this dude for breakfast. Still, it was nice to see Dom back here and although it’s a quick cameo it does make it feel like a part of the franchise.

In Conclusion

This film did the worst out of all the sequels when it comes to box office. I can understand why there are people who really don’t like this one at all. Lucas Black’s performance feels a bit too, “aw shucks” for the most part. But Han is definitely a breakout character and he’s the most magnetic personality in the whole film. You can tell he’s the one really in charge, even when he just stays in the background.

But for all of its flaws, this film does something the first film pulled off well. It takes us into a little known world and shows us a niche community where we get to see a small family story. This doesn’t have the chemistry of the first one but it does feel a lot more personal than the second film. Personally, for me, this is one of my favorites of the franchise because we still get to see cool car stunts, the story makes sense (mostly) and there are real consequences to the actions of the characters.

This one is not for everyone but I enjoy it. And if you want to know about one of the key characters in films later in the franchise you do have to watch this one. It’s best to just go with it and have fun along the way and not get bogged down in the details of why it’s set in Tokyo or if there really is an underground drift circuit there. (Although it’s Tokyo so yeah they have everything there)

If you are looking for a fun time watching cars slide around with a bit of action and a pretty decent cameo, this one is worth a watch.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

2 Fast 2 Furious – Movie Review

2 Fast 2 Furious takes us to Miami

Hey film fans, Slick Dungeon here, back to review the second installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Paul Walker is back for this one but there is no Vin Diesel in sight here. But there is still plenty of action, lots of fast cars, a few good stunts and plot that is, well… pretty thin. Note there will be spoilers in this review for both The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious. If you want to catch up and read my review of the first movie, you can do so here.

The Fast and the Furious set up a situation with Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner which leaves Brian in trouble with the law and Dom presumably free. One would expect the sequel to try to continue those stories but there was a major problem in doing that for this movie. Vin Diesel was filming a different action movie xXx and couldn’t come back for 2 Fast 2 Furious without leaving that project. So, instead of having the two breakout stars of the first film come back, we only get Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner.

The good news is this second film does introduce us to some of the recurring cast we’ll see in later movies, including Roman Pearce played by Tyrese Gibson, Monica Fuentes played by Eva Mendes, and Tej Parker played by Ludacris.

The first film was better than it had any right to be, although it accomplished that in large part by borrowing a plot from an older movie. The sequel needed to be more action packed with bigger stunts and to keep the interest of people who saw the first one without one of the main stars.

So, did they accomplish this goal or was this a forgettable sequel? Let’s dig in and find out.

Spoilers follow!

We’re Moving to Miami

This film starts with a street race in Miami, Florida. There are three cars ready and raring to go but the race can’t happen without even numbers so the organizer of the event, Tej Parker calls in a fourth driver. This is Brian O’Conner, the undercover cop who let a felon go at the end of the last film. Brian wins the race handily and earns himself some money. But just after that, the police show up and Brian tries to get away. He’s got a super fast car and he’s a highly skilled driver so it should be easy. However, the police have some kind of harpoon style weapon they shoot at his car. Once this hits, it seems to deliver a sort of EMP jolt to the car, cutting out the electronics and basically making the car stop. Brian is taken into custody.

This time the arrest is not a ruse, it seems Brian really is on the run from the law. Lucky for him, there are some people who can use his help. One of Brian’s former superiors, Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) and a US Customs agent named Markham want to catch a drug lord named Carter Verone. They need someone who can gain the trust of Verone, while also not giving away the fact that there is an FBI agent named Monica Fuentes who has already been monitoring Verone. They try to give Brian a partner but after a simple question it’s clear this police officer knows nothing about cars. Brian demands to choose his own driving partner. This is Roman who we first see wearing an ankle bracelet while competing in a demolition derby.

Roman is an old friend of Brian’s who has gotten into some trouble. After a brief fight, Roman and Brian hash things out a bit and Roman agrees to help the police in exchange for his record being wiped clean. Brian will get the same deal so if they pull off the job, they won’t be going to jail.

Monica Fuentes arranges it so that Roman and Brian can audition to work for Verone. They arrive at the mansion along with a number of other street racers. Verone takes everyone’s identification and tells them his Ferrari was impounded. The job is to go retrieve something important from the car and come back with it first. There’s a chase scene where Brian and Roman both show off their fast driving skills and, of course, they get to the Ferrari first. I don’t really know how they knew how to get there since no one gave them directions but we’ll ignore that for the sake of the movie.

Anyway, just as Roman and Brian are about to take the package back, Markham shows up, hoping to arrest Verone. Roman sees the guy with a gun pulled and Roman starts firing his own gun. This was clearly not supposed to happen. Markham thought Brian and Roman were running when they were just doing what they were supposed to. Roman and Brian do get away from Markham and end up back at Verone’s place.

Verone is impressed enough to hire the two of them. But we find out the only thing they got from the car was a cigar. Also, Verone promises there will be a job for the two of them if they meet him at a club later. Monica lets Brian know Verone plans to smuggle money on his private jet from an airstrip nearby. Brian and Roman go back to police headquarters where Markham is beyond mad and Roman is furious the cops showed up at all. Turns out there were GPS units on the cars they were driving. This was back when GPS units were not all that common so it’s no surprise that Roman and Brian weren’t expecting that.

After they leave police headquarters, Roman and Brian realize they have a few problems here. First, Verone’s men seem to be following them around. Second, it’s going to be tough for them to get anything done if they are constantly being tracked by the police. So, what’s the solution? I mean, it’s a Fast and Furious movie so obviously a street race! Roman and Brian have a tag team race to get two more cars. The race it set up by Tej and it’s a pretty good race sequence. Ultimately, Brian and Roman succeed and have two cars, GPS free to use when they need them.

This whole time, Brian has been making puppy dog eyes at Monica which Roman notices. When they get to the club where they are supposed to meet Verone, Monica is there and seems to flirt back with Brian a bit. Verone sees this. Verone has Roman and Brian go in the back with him where he has an police detective tortured. He wants a fifteen minute window of time where there will be no cops monitoring him so he can gather his drug money.

Monica warns Roman and Brian that Verone plans to have them killed as soon as the job is over. Roman and Brian go see Tej and make some contingency plans of their own.

On the day of the job, things start as they are supposed to. Brian, Roman and two of Verone’s guys go to get some money out of a trailer Verone owns. The cop who was supposed to keep the area free for fifteen minutes lets his conscience get to him and he tells the cops to move in. This now means Brian and Roman are caught between the police and Verone’s men. There’s a nifty car chase as Brian and Roman misdirect everyone. They pull into a warehouse with cops in hot pursuit. They think they have the men surrounded when the warehouse doors open up and a bunch of big trucks come out and basically demolish the police cars. Then there is a scramble where what seems like every high end race car in Miami comes out of the warehouses and speed off in all directions. The cops think they still have GPS on the cars so they aren’t worried and Markham is in waiting at the airstrip. When the cars Brian and Roman were driving arrive at the airstrip, it’s Tej and his partner Suki who are driving.

Roman and Brian each have one of Verone’s men in the cars they won racing the night before. Roman hits an ejector seat button to dump the thug. Before Brian can do the same, Verone tells him the plan has changed. He now has to meet Verone at the docks. When Brian gets there Verone puts a gun to Monica’s head and takes her on the boat. Verone’s thug is supposed to kill Brian but before he can do so, Roman shows up to save the day. Verone does manage to get Monica onto the boat and they are already speeding away.

How does Brian stop Verone? Well, again it’s a Fast and Furious movie so he drives real fast, launches the car off a ramp facing the water and lands on the boat. It’s the biggest stunt in the movie. And when it happens, Roman breaks his arm and Brian is banged up quite a bit as well. This was before everyone in these movies seems to take no damage from major car crashes.

In the end, Roman and Brian are cleared, Verone is arrested (although he swears revenge), and Monica is safe and sound. Roman does pocket a bit of the cash from Verone’s take though. That’s where we leave our heroes for this movie but we’ll see more of them in the future.

What About Dom and Mia?

On top of Vin Diesel missing, since this film takes place in Miami with Brian on the run, there is no Mia from the first movie. I’ll say, Brian sure moves on quickly from her and seems to have roving eyes everywhere he goes. If Brian has a weakness in this movie, it’s definitely pretty women. I feel like the relationship with Mia not even being addressed in this movie was a mistake. Like, they could have at least had a phone call or something on Brian’s end where he might tell her not to worry or something like that. But nope, we’re going to pretend that whole thing didn’t count in the first movie here I guess. It makes sense why Dom isn’t here. He’s still back at home or maybe on the run. Brian probably wouldn’t want to call him because presumably everyone is watching Dom. But Mia has nothing to do with the whole thing so she’s getting ignored for no reason.

Did This Work at All?

2 Fast 2 Furious is not a great film. It’s miles away from the quality of the first movie. The dynamic between Diesel and Walker are missing and this film feels like it could literally be called something else. It’s got a fairly caricatured villain, the plot is really thin, and while the acting is fine, no one is going above and beyond here. That’s not to say there is nothing good in the movie. The car stunts are still fun, although I would argue the ones from the first film tend to look better. And Roman and Tej are both good additions to the franchise and probably the most entertaining parts of the whole movie. Eva Mendes is also great in her role here.

While the first movie was meant to be a B film that feels more like a quality picture, the second feels like a movie meant to be a quality picture which feels like a B film. On a pure action level, this film does work but it doesn’t obtain the greatness of the first one by any stretch of the imagination.

In Conclusion

There are still a lot of films to go in this franchise. We’re going to witness a bunch of odd twists and turns here, especially once Vin Diesel is truly back. But the second movie just needed to be a half decent action flick. And it does deliver on being about half way decent. It did well enough to garner another sequel but if this film had come out first, the whole franchise would have been forgotten. It’s still one you need to watch if you want to be completely caught up with the franchise but just remember this one is meant to be nothing more than a good time.

I will say though, compared to some of the later sequels, this one does at least seem to adhere to the laws of physics for the most part.

Overall this is still an enjoyable watch but it might be the least enjoyable of the sequels.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fast and the Furious – Movie Review

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker star in The Fast and the Furious

Hey film lovers, it’s Slick Dungeon here! The tenth (not counting spin offs) Fast and Furious movie is about to hit theaters this month. In anticipation of that, the movie theater in my area is showing all the older movies so I thought it would be worth taking a look and seeing how we went from a small band of illegal street racers to an expansive family of super spies. I’m going to review the first movie in the series in this post, The Fast and the Furious. Heads up there will be spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie, hop in your car, hit the NOS button, get to the theater and watch the movie, then race on back here to read the review.

I think most film lovers have had an experience like this. Way back in 2001 I was stuck with a day where I didn’t have much to do. I had seen everything else in the theater except for The Fast and the Furious. I had no particular interest in watching it because I’m really not a car guy and other than Vin Diesel I had no idea who any of the actors were. But, I had hours to kill and nothing else to do so I thought to myself, “how bad can it be?” Turned out this movie was a whole hell of a lot better than it has any right to be. There are a few reasons for that and I’ll get into it below but it was a surprise to me.

So, why was a movie about a bunch of car thieves and undercover cops so much better than expected? Let’s dive in and find out.

Spoilers follow below!

The World of Illegal Street Racing in Los Angeles

The movie starts out with a still impressive car stunt. We see several cars, neon lights glowing below them, racing up next to a semi truck with precision speed. One car literally drives at pace under the truck while the others pin the truck in its lane. The people in the cars shoot out harpoon like devices so they can hop into the truck and take the payload. It’s an amazing and well timed robbery which just looks downright cool.

Next thing you know we’re in a local market where a man comes in and orders a tuna sandwich. This is our hero, Brian (Paul Walker). He’s obviously there to flirt with a woman named Mia (Jordana Brewster). It’s not long before some of the people who run this little market and automotive shop (odd combination but whatever) come in and are giving Brian some grief. A fight breaks out and we meet our other hero, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). Dom breaks up the fight but tells Brian he’s banned from the shop.

That night we see Brian, who had been trying to race a car on a deserted street earlier, gather at a street race. This is no regulated race. It’s just a huge group of people with really fast cars illegally racing one another for money and pink slips. They are organized enough they even have someone monitor police scanners so they wait for cops to be distracted by a major crime before they start racing. I would have thought the amount of people involved in illegal street racing was relatively small but it seems like there are hundreds in attendance and at least a good third of those people have seriously expensive (and fast) cars.

Anyway, Brain bets Dom the pink slip to his car that he can beat him in a race. Brian nearly edges him out but Dom Toretto is a seasoned racer who ultimately wins the day. Brian has to give up his car but before that happens, the police descend on the scene and start to round up as many people as they can. Dom ditches his car and starts to get away on foot. He’s nearly cornered when Brian shows up to save the day for Dom. He gets Dom to hop in his car and they race out of there.

Unfortunately for the two of them, Brian unknowingly heads into the territory of Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) who has a vendetta against Dom. Its not long before Brian’s car is shot to shreds by Johnny’s bullets and Dom is warned to stay away from the area. In Dom’s words this means Brian still owes him, “a ten second car.” In other words, just because the car was shot up and nearly unusable, it doesn’t mean Brian is out of debt and he needs to get Dom a super fast car as quickly as possible.

Brian and Dom go back to Dom’s place where a party is happening. Dom is pretty angry with his crew, especially Vince (Matt Schultz) and Leon (Johnny Strong) who left him to be picked up by the cops. Vince is especially upset Brian has been welcomed in because Vince wants to date Mia but she’s clearly more into Brian.

The next day, Brian brings in a beat up old car which has an incredible engine to Dom’s garage. Jesse (Chad Lindberg) sees the potential in the car right away because he has a genius mind for engines. Then we see the real twist of the movie. Brian is taken under arrest at the auto shop he works at. But this arrest is a ruse, Brian is an undercover cop. He’s trying to figure out who these people with precision driving skills are who are stealing from truckers. He knows anyone good enough to drive that way must have some connection to the world of illegal street racing. Dom seems to be the central figure in this world. He’s the guy who can’t be beat so if it isn’t Dom stealing, he has to know who is.

Brian thinks it could be a guy named Hector who (Noel Gugilemi) was at the race the other night. Brian breaks into the garage but Dom and his crew see this happen. Vince is convinced Brian is a cop but Brian uses some fast talk to make Dom believe he was just investigating other racers who will be racing at an upcoming event. Dom decides they should see what Johnny Tran has in his garage. While there, Brian notices a bunch of brand new electronics, similar to the types of things that have been stolen recently.

Brian lets his superiors know what he found and they agree to raid Tran’s place. Meanwhile, Brian and Mia are on intimate terms. The raid doesn’t really turn up any evidence and Brian is given thirty-six hours to figure out who is doing the robberies. Lucky for Brian, an event called “Race Wars” (yeah I know, it was a terrible idea for a name even then) is coming up. At this event he should be able to catch whoever the real thief is. Brian is convinced it’s Dom but he’s also started to see Dom as more of a human than just a thug. Brain had read Dom’s criminal file about how he had almost beaten someone to death. Dom relates the story, while showing Brian an old car. It turns out, Dom’s dad died in a fiery crash years ago at a race track. Dom was at the track when the driver who crashed into his father showed up and before he knew it he had a wrench in his hand and was beating the man to a bloody pulp. It’s clear Dom regrets the action but knows he couldn’t help himself. He also knows his life turned out much different than he thought it would. Dom explains to Brian that the ten seconds or less while he is drag racing is the only time he feels free. This seems to resonate with Brian.

At Race Wars, Jesse, who is not much of a driver, loses a race to Johnny Tran. Rather than give Tran the car like he is supposed to, Jesse speeds off. This puts a target on Jesse’s back.

Later, Brian sees Mia arguing with Dom and then Dom, Leon, Vince and Dom’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) hop in their cars and speed away. Brian confronts Mia and admits he’s an undercover cop. He enlists her help to track down Dom before anything seriously bad can happen to Dom and his crew. Mia is majorly upset with Brian but doesn’t want to see her brother harmed so she helps.

In the best sequence of the entire film, Letty, Dom, Leon and Vince try to rob another truck. They use the same method as at the start of the movie but this time they don’t have Jesse with them to help monitor police scanners and make sure equipment is working right. Things go sour when the trucker starts blasting shotgun shots at everyone. In a complicated series of events, Vince, ends up hanging off the side of the truck, shot in the side, with his arm nearly cut off with the cable from the harpoon they used. Brain manages to rescue Vince but he’s in bad shape and they are in the middle of nowhere. Brian realizes the only way to save Vince is to radio for a helicopter as a police officer. He does it to save Vince’s life but Dom and everyone else are pretty mad at Brian.

Brian eventually rolls up to Dom’s house where Dom is about to take his dad’s car out to find Jesse. Johnny Tran shows up seconds after Jesse does. Tran shoots Jesse and rather than arrest Dom, Brian goes after Tran. Another seriously fun car chase happens and Brian ends up shooting Tran. Then he sees Dom race by. Brian and Dom end up at a stoplight together. Dom tells Brian the stoplight they are at is exactly a quarter of a mile away from the railroad track ahead. Dom says on green he’s going to go for it. Brian knows the only way he could possibly get Dom to come with him is to beat him in this race. The two do race off towards the tracks just as a train is coming. They barely make it across the finish but this time, they tie. Brian is fine but Dom doesn’t see another car coming and ends up in a pretty bad crash. The sound of sirens gets closer and Brian knows he could take Dom in for all kinds of crimes, right here and right now. But that’s not what he does. Instead, he gives Dom the keys to his car and tells him he still owed him, “a ten second car.”

Is this Plot Familiar?

If you’re an action movie fan and you just read that summary, it may have felt extremely familiar. Why? It’s a nearly identical plot to the Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze classic Point Break. The only real difference here is we are dealing with cars instead of surfboards. Point Break is a great movie with tons of fun action so it’s worthy of being copied. But I will say, The Fast and the Furious delivers more high octane adrenaline than that one did.

Paul Walker is essentially the Keanu Reeves character and Vin Diesel is the analogy to Patrick Swayze’s character.

No movie is ever completely original. All films owe what they put on screen to something that came before. But it’s rare to see such a similar film do so well. In fact, this did better than the remake of Point Break, because although it’s about cars, The Fast and the Furious shares more of the genetic make up of the original Point Break than the remake of Point Break does.

That’s not to say there aren’t some original things in The Fast and the Furious. The stunts are fantastic, and although there is some CGI here, none of it is really for the car stunts. Also, they introduce NOS (Nitrous Oxide) as an almost super powered way to make a car go faster. A lot of the action is keyed around when the drivers hit the button that releases it. But overall, yeah, it’s a really similar movie to Point Break.

This Shouldn’t Have Worked

This was a low budget movie (for an action film) with a mostly unknown cast centered around a really niche type of lifestyle, released with almost no fanfare, that just chugged away at the box office. If you watch it now, especially in theaters, it has the quality of a classic film. Paul Walker has an almost Robert Redford like appearance. And Walker gives a performance far above what one would expect for a B film about car racing. Vin Diesel is never overly expressive even at the best of times but that style of acting just fits Dom Toretto’s character perfectly.

And while Michelle Rodriguez is great in this movie (as she is in most movies) the real chemistry here is between Diesel and Walker. They have a kind of mutual rivalry and respect thing going that you can just feel in this movie.

We know now this film kicks off a franchise where insane things start to happen on screen. We get to the point where physics don’t matter at all, people can survive nearly anything, and this little band of car thieves are somehow super spies. But we would not be able to get to a single bit of that if this first film had flopped.

This was in no way a flop. It was number one at the box office and beat out several other highly anticipated films to get there. The movie was made for $38 million but has made over $207 million. That’s a healthy profit from an unlikely film.

In Conclusion

I still think, in some ways, this film can be argued to be the best film in the Fast and Furious franchise. It’s full of heart, even if it is a copycat of another film. It also sticks fairly close to reality. While the car stunts are cool and impressive, it doesn’t feel like they are things that couldn’t happen. People get injured, and car crashes seem to leave people hurt in this movie. Bullets are lethal or at least dangerous. And the bit of romance/love interest stuff that goes on here is understated but necessary. We see both the heroes of the movie, Brian and Dom, do things that are heroic, even if they are committing crimes. It just feels like a classic movie that wasn’t meant to be anything but a good time at the theater where you get to enjoy your popcorn, see some cool stuff, and feel like it all ends the right way. And after all, isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place?

While I don’t think anyone would call this film high art, it’s certainly a good time. And if you haven’t gone back to see where the beginning of all the madness happens in a while, I highly recommend you check this one out again.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon