Charlize Theron

TRAILER REACTION: F9: The Fast Saga

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, or if you even follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably know that I bloomin’ love the Fast & Furious franchise. They are a series of films that have gotten bigger, bolder, and more gravity and physics-defying with each instalment. They have evolved from petty criminals and street races to unlikely international crime fighters and the odd street race. And in this unlikeliest of film franchises, the core theme of them is family and it has my favourite trope – the family of choice.

Last night the first trailer for Fast & Furious 9 (which has continued the franchises trend of having odd and inconsistent names and is actually supposed to be called F9: The Fast Saga) dropped and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the night. So, here are my probably out of order and very excited thoughts and predictions about what is definitely my most anticipated film of 2020.

First of all, this trailer is very rude for starting off with the piano bit from “See You Again”. Does it want to make me cry in less than 30 seconds?! But it is really cute seeing Dom, Letty and kid Brian being a happy family. Side note: #JusticeForElena

There’s so much I love about this trailer. I love how the song choices are edited to the action and there’s so many great sound beats. Those big dramatic pauses like when Letty reveals that John Cena is Dom’s (and also presumably Mia’s) brother! And I really love the shots of Mia and Letty taking down bad guys together and then Letty going out of a window.

I think it’s great that Mia’s back. I just hope that Mia and Brian are still together with their kids. I’m sure they will be as I can’t imagine them killing Brian off screen but it’s still a small worry. I want Brian to be looking after Jack and their other child and kid Brian while Mia goes to help Dom. I can imagine kid Brian being sent to adult Brian’s because I doubt there’s anyone else Dom would trust to look out for his son while the gang save the day.

I also love that Helen Mirren is back as Magdalene Shaw. I just love that she’s in these films in general, never mind that she’s the matriarch of this crime family – although only one of them really is into crime, one was an MI6 agent and the other was in the army before they were framed and then turned to the life of crime. Who knew I could end up having almost as many emotions about the Shaw family as I do about the Toretto family?

And Charlize Theron is back as Cipher too! I love a female villain (even though she has a terrible haircut) and I’m interested in seeing her join forces with Jacob, and how their plan will come down in flames.

This trailer has everything I could want from a Fast and Furious trailer. The stunts defy physics, it looks so much fun, and it’s got so many of the old favourites back again to fight for their family. Vin Diesel is brooding, Tyresse Gibson is screaming, and Letty and Dom are being #couplegoals. It’s Fast and Furious and I love it.

Just when it looks like this trailer can’t get any better and I can’t get any more hyped – the ending happens. Han’s back from the dead! I legit flailed and had the biggest grin on my face, I couldn’t believe they’d kept it a secret and it was such a great surprise. And I love how the tag line is “Justice is Coming” when there was a whole #JusticeForHan twitter campaign after Deckard Shaw kinda joined the Toretto family by the end of Fast and Furious 8.

Yes, then there’s the whole thing of “How’s Han not dead when Jason Statham killed him?” Side note: I’m forever impressed at how they edited Jason Statham so seamlessly into Tokyo Drift so it could be revealed that Han’s car accident wasn’t an accident and Deckard Shaw was the one that caused it. But this franchise has brought characters back from the dead before! Letty was killed in Fast & Furious (number 4) only to have it revealed at the end of Fast Five that she was apparently back from the dead, and then in Fast & Furious 6 it was really her and she’d survived her car exploding but she had amnesia. I’m sure they can just as seamlessly do another edit of Tokyo Drift showing that Han had managed to get out of the car before it caught fire. Plus, Owen Shaw didn’t even die after he got thrown from a moving plane and Dom didn’t die after a whole multi-storey carpark fell on him, so the laws of nature don’t apply to these films as well.

Sure, all of that kind of means the stakes are lessened as we know our heroes are going to make it out alive (maybe not in this film, but in another one surely) but I don’t really care, because the characters don’t know that and for all the action and spectacle, what makes me come back to these films again and again is the characters and their relationships.

An argument that could be made is that the marketing team shouldn’t have put the Han reveal in the trailer, that seeing Han return when watching the film for the first time without out any prior knowledge would’ve had more of an impact. I can agree with that, but how many people would be tweeting “OMG Han’s back!” as soon as they get out of the cinema on opening day, spoiling it for everyone else? I think from a marketing point of view, having Han in the trailer gives another aspect to the publicity surrounding the film, and the filmmakers can somewhat control spoilers from the outset. I’m pretty sure Sung Kang hasn’t gone to any of the premiers for Fast and Furious films he wasn’t in, so seeing him there might’ve tipped some people off as well, so maybe it’s better to get the reveal out there and go from there.

Apparently the tenth Fast and Furious film is going to be the last one, and to continue the theme of people not staying dead, it’d be great if at the end of F9 it was revealed that Gisele was still alive and then she can join the family for one last ride. That would also mean that Han and Gisele could drive off into the sunset together which would be amazing.

I just love these films so much and will never get tired of their ridiculousness. I think the reasons these films work so well, even with all the retcons they’ve had over the past nine films (ten if you include Hobbs & Shaw), is that they just go for it wholeheartedly and embrace the ridiculousness. The rules do not apply to the world of the Fast and Furious and that is OK.

Have you watched the F9: The Fast Saga trailer as many times as I have? What do you make of it? I will be there opening day and it will be glorious.

REVIEW: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

My original review of The Fate and the Furious from when it was first released is here.

When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) turns his back on his family and starts to work with mysterious cybercriminal Cipher (Charlize Theron), his family must team up with old foes in order to stop him before it’s too late.

Like the films that came before it, The Fate of the Furious really does make everything bigger and more ridiculous. The laws of physics and logic go completely out the window but if you are happy to see a bunch of unbelievable stunts with cars then The Fate of the Furious is a lot of fun.

There are some serious moments though in The Fate of the Furious, especially once you learn the reason why Dom has turned on his family. This does lead to some emotional moments though it does also lead to a character we’ve met before getting the rough end of the stick. It would have been nice if the film had found a way around that obstacle that wasn’t so common and unfortunate.

Jason Statham returns as Deckard Shaw but this time he’s forced to work with the people he tried to kill the last time they met. He presents a bit of a wildcard element in the team dynamic we’ve become accustomed to over the past few films. Statham’s banter with Dwayne Johnson (who plays Agent Luke Hobbs) is always fun and Statham almost manages to steal the whole film in one of the final action sequences.

With Dom being on the opposite side to his family, it gives Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) more of a lead role than she’s ever had before. She keeps the family together, leading the team and never losing faith in Dom. Rodriguez gives a great performance and, While Diesel certainly has his moments, she is really the heart of the film.

I have to mention the score composed by Brian Tyler. He has composed all but three of the Fast & Furious films and perhaps it’s because I’ve watched them so close together, but you notice that these films, and this team of characters has a theme. It’s something that’s noticeable in all of the big scenes, the heist in Fast Five for instance, and the finale of The Fate of the Furious as the team races across the ice. It really helps add to these films sense of identity and gives you an extra shot of adrenalin as when you hear it, you know something big is about to happen.

The Fate of the Furious is over-the-top but the cast and crew fully commit to the stunts that defy the laws of physics and that just makes it all the more fun and entertaining. 4/5.

REVIEW: Gringo (2018)

On a work trip to Mexico, mild-mannered businessman Harold (David Oyelowo) finds himself caught between his shady bosses Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine (Charlize Theron), the Mexican cartel, and an ex-mercenary (Sharlto Copley). After a rash decision, Harold fights to survive as a chain of increasingly dangerous events unfold around him.

Gringo doesn’t exactly reinvent the crime genre, with its shady businessmen and drug dealers it’s mostly a story that’s been seen before, but it’s execution and cast make Gringo a lot of fun.

The cast is brilliant, making each of their somewhat clichéd roles into something more substantial and entertaining. Who knew David Oyelowo had such great comedy chops? With his high-pitched screams as he’s thrust into more and more life-and-death situations, you can’t help but laugh at Oyelowo’s nice guy Harold while still feeling sympathetic towards him because he really doesn’t deserve the bad stuff that keeps happening to him. A lot of the tension in Gringo comes from having a lead like Harold who’s so normal and relatable that you are almost constantly worried about what’s going to happen to him next. Theron’s Elaine is another great character, wrapping men around her finger while spitting out many non-PC but hilarious lines. She’s unlikable but surprisingly admirable.

Some characters are a bit of an afterthought. Sunny (Amanda Seyfried) and Miles (Harry Treadaway) have their own subplot which eventually entwines with what’s happening with Harold, but they never really feel fleshed out, while Bonnie (Thandie Newton), Harold’s wife, is just used as a punchline in the end.

Gringo’s plot is over the top and outrageous and so is its humour. It’s darkly funny with laughs coming from some of the unexpected violence and witty dialogue between characters. The situations these characters get into are bonkers but still stupidly funny, the stunts look great too, making Gringo an exciting action/crime/comedy hybrid. 4/5.

REVIEW: Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seduced into the world of terrorism by the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron), his family and crew must join with old foes in order to stop him.

Fast & Furious 8 really steps it up a gear in terms of stunts and spectacle. There’s car chases on the streets of New York, a giant wrecking ball taking out cars and, of course, a submarine vs cars on ice sequence. They shouldn’t work and sometimes it’s a little chaotic to follow where everyone is but it’s best to let the adrenalin start pumping and go along for the ride.

Cipher is a very different kind of villain to what the crew has faced before. She’s almost all seeing and all-knowing thanks to her hacking skills and is powerful enough to get Dom to turn on his family for her. Most of her scenes are with Dom so it would’ve been nice to see her interact with more of the characters and see how characters like loud-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson) would react her.

It’s weird going into a Fast and Furious film without Paul Walker being there and they do have a reason why he and Jordana Brewster are not in the film, but the film generally still holds up with the old crew and a few new additions. There’s Eric (Scott Eastwood) Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) new protégée, who takes a while to gel and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is roped in to join the team. The conflict between him and the team is a bit hit and miss, the film quickly brushes off his history with the team (they almost killed his brother and he in turn killed one of their own and tried to kill the rest of them in the last film) and it would’ve been nice to see some more of that conflict. The one place you do feel that tension is between Shaw and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), their chemistry is great and there’s a lot of humour from them two trash talking each other.

Each member of the team has their moment to shine but in many ways, this is Dom’s film. He has the emotional beats of the film, along with (to a lesser extent) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). She, as his wife, is the most visibly torn up about his betrayal and while she does have some cringey lines, she gives a good performance.

What can I say, if you’ve seen any of the recent Fast and Furious films then you know what you’ll be getting into – a world where the laws of physics don’t apply and the main crew of street racers are more like spies or superheroes nowadays. Fast & Furious 8 continues to be a lot of fun with a thrilling finale and a lot of laughs all the way through the film – it’s mad but it works. 4/5.