With the death of Paul Walker and the unstoppable ego of Vin Diesel, “The Fate of the Furious” signals a rock bottom point in the movie series that we haven’t seen since “Fast and Furious.” As the series runs on fumes, the writers and producers are working over time to introduce us to dynamic new anti-heroes, all of whom can’t make “Fate of the Furious” worth watching. Unless you’re a completionist, or a hardcore Kurt Russell fanatic, “Fate of the Furious” is a convoluted and painfully long follow up that tries very hard to fill the void Paul Walker left when he died.
For fans that missed it the first time, Mill Creek Entertainment re-releases their stellar home version of “Gone in 60 Seconds” but now with a Digital Copy for buyers. Mill Creek is finally entering the digital arena for folks that bypass physical copies, and it’s a wise investment. The new release garners a restored and remastered version of the 1974 action film, and it’s a neat addition to the sub-genre of car based action films. “Gone in 60 Seconds” takes its premise and doles out a very solid and exciting action film with a slew of mesmerizing car chase sequences that are far more engrossing than the painfully inferior remake from 2000.
At this point you know what you’re getting with the “Fast and the Furious” movie series, but they also seem to be thinking of new ways to get ridiculous. While you can’t really expect realism with these movies (seriously, gravity does not exist in this world), “Fate of the Furious” reaches new heights of absurdity that it becomes comical; and not the good kind of comical, either. Where James Bond had “Die Another Day” where he surfed a tsunami on a plane door and parachute, “The Fate of the Furious” has its own “jump the shark” moment. But this one involves a missile chasing a car, and Dwayne Johnson merely leaning out of a high speed car and pushing the missile away with his hand, allowing it to divert in to the car of a bad guy. It’s that point where I realized that it’s about time for the series to come to an end.
“It’s never goodbye…”
It’s shocking that not only is “Fast & Furious 7” not only the best entry in the series yet, but it’s also one of the best movies of the year. It’s exciting, it’s engrossing, it’s fun, and goddamn, it’s a heartbreaking last go around for Paul Walker. I say this as someone who openly hated these movies after the first film, but here I am years later, getting teary eyed at the end of a “Fast & Furious” film. In fact, this is also one of the most human sequels of the series, since it deals a lot with consequence, and revenge. Shortly after “Fast 6,” the group finds out that their latest heist has granted them a death ticket. The brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) has come to wreak unholy vengeance on Dominic Toretto and his crew.
Unlike “The Expendables,” which purports to bring all stars together and pit them against perilous circumstances, “Fast and the Furious” is the film accomplishing the concept. It’s rid itself of the pretenses of being a franchise, and has embraced the fact that each movie is just a two hour episode of an extended series, and has brought together all of the best stars from the previous movies of the “Fast and the Furious” movies. It even has its own opening credits. And what’s more is that the stakes are raised more and more with each movie right down to the potential for a child’s life being risked.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 masterpiece may be one of the most misunderstood gems of the year. Rather than opting for a simple take off on the Ryan O’Neal classic heist film, he instead focuses in on the consequences of the choices made by criminals and the deeply meditative state of life that can ultimately be a reflection of the crimes we commit throughout our years. “Drive” feels almost like that lost jewel of the late seventies and early eighties, a film that focuses solely on the aftermath of crime rather than the crime itself and zeroes in on a sole individual whose own choices have come back to haunt him and ultimately put him in a position where he must seek redemption before the evil corrupts the only good in his life.
For anyone expecting a car film in the vein of “Vanishing Point,” they’re bound to be ridiculously disappointed. For “Two Lane Blacktop” is much more about the journey and the thrill of being a racer as it is about races. This is not “The Fast and the Furious” that revolves around hot women and fast cars, but more about two journeymen and their young aid who engage in endless travels from town to town in a world ruled by law and order. James Taylor is the Driver a fast talking back dealing con man on the road with his hot rod and his two cohorts who constantly are on the look out for a new challenge. When they reach their destination, they scope out potential rivals, deal them in to a big race, and collect their rewards. On the way the three folks in their car are looking for something: a purpose.
Many people I’ve ever talked to have never seen the actual film of “Gone in 60 Seconds,” and really have their knowledge of that title extended to the miserable and horrid remake starring great actors being completely misused in what I can describe as a ninety minute eye sore. “Gone in 60 Seconds,” from 1974, is a film I actively sought out for the mere excuse of comparing a terrible movie to what I initially hoped was a great film as previous car films like “Vanishing Point,” and “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry” have been.