After capturing footage of corrupt cops killing unarmed young black men on her bodycam, rookie cop Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is on the run from the police as she fights to get the truth out there.
Black and Blue is the kind of film you’ve probably seen before. It’s a corrupt cop film that follows some very similar beats to films that have come before it and in fact the final showdown definitely had some echoes of Training Day. That’s not to say Black and Blue is a bad film, it’s just one that has very few surprises.
Naomi Harris is very good in the lead role, capturing the resolve to do what’s right while being unsure of who she can trust because just about every other cop she encounters as she tries to get back to the police station to upload the bodycam footage seems to have an ulterior motive. The one person she does learn to trust is Tyrese Gibson’s Mouse, a guy who works at a shop and doesn’t want any trouble but ends up helping her anyway. Having mostly seen Gibson in the Transformers and Fast and Furious franchises where he’s often cracking a joke every five minutes, it was nice to see him tackle a more serious role where his character was more stoic and thoughtful.
Almost unsurprisingly Frank Grillo plays the lead corrupt cop. He always does a good job of playing a bad guy though his character seems to have a slight manic edge to it that doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the tone that Harris and Gibson seem to be going for. Still, he’s always fun to watch and the scenes where he’s stalking Harris’ West are quite tense.
Themes of racial tension and whether or not a Black person can still be Black while being a police officer are sprinkled throughout the film. Black and Blue never really commits to these themes though; it’s like it’s trying to combine more recent Black Live Matter messages with a corrupt cop film of the late 90s/early 2000s and it doesn’t really hit the mark. West is someone who sees people as people and while she knows some people who ended up affiliated with gangs, she sees them as more than what her colleagues tend to do. Many of the cops and the Black people she meets seem to have an us vs them mentality which she does not share, meaning she struggles to fit in with her co-workers and the community she used to be a part of. Harris does a good job of showing West’s inner turmoil about this but neither her nor the script are really strong enough for this complex topic.
Black and Blue is a decent corrupt cop action movie. There are some lulls in the action but when Alicia West is on the run it’s often tense and entertaining. 3/5.
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.
When Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) needs help taking down a team of precision drivers led by criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), he turns to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their team. Following the revelation that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive and working with Shaw, Dom and his family will do anything to get her back.
There are high-octane thrills in Fast & Furious 6 with car chases around London (though it never really uses the city to it’s full potential and nearly everything there takes place at night), a tank causing chaos on a motorway in Spain, and a sequence where the team take on a plane.
There are also some brutal fist fights too as Rodriguez’s Letty takes on Gina Carano’s Riley (Hobbs’ right-hand woman) on the London Underground. It is amusing how their brutal and efficient fight is juxtaposed with Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Han’s (Sung Kang) unsuccessful fight against another one of Shaw’s team.
Though Letty is back she has amnesia so seeing her slowly reconnect with Dom and figure out who she is and where she fits in with this group of people who seems to know her is interesting. Rodriguez and Diesel still have a tonne of chemistry even if Letty isn’t the person Dom used to know. Also, credit to the writer as the Fast and Furious franchise really is getting better in its representation of and attitudes towards women. Elena (Elsa Pataky) and Dom had gotten together by the end of Fast Five and how she lets Dom go, and Letty’s reaction to her, is very mature on all sides.
There’s a whole subplot in Fast & Furious 6 that feels out of place. It involved Brian having to leave the team in order to investigate Shaw’s criminal connections and I achieves nothing in terms of furthering the plot. However, it is more of a character study as Brian attempts to atone for his part in Letty’s “demise” and her current situation.
As the series has grown and the team/family of heroes has expanded, it does mean that the villains don’t get much development. Evans tries his best to be a different kind of menacing to the ones Dom and his crew have encountered before, but it doesn’t really hold up bar one scene where he and Diesel have a standoff. Roman makes a comment that Shaw’s crew is like their evil twins but that’s all down to appearances rather than their skills or personalities as you never really get to know any of them.
Fast & Furious 6 is still fun and has bigger stunts than before, though it does have a somewhat convoluted plot. The emphasis is still on family though and on the whole the emotional beats land which is what you really want from this franchise. 3/5.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) along with his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster and friend and former-FBI Agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are on the run and backed into a corner. After they cross paths with a powerful Brazilian drug lord in Rio, they call in old friends to pull off one last job to buy their freedom. But all the while federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is on their tail.
Following on from Fast & Furious, Fast Five continues the trend of stepping away from its street racing roots becoming a heist film and it’s all the better for it. It still has some great car racing action, but a lot of it either pushes forward the plot or is a nice character moment. It has all the usual heist tropes, but they come together with characters you’ve seen across the previous four films means which makes them extra fun and enjoyable.
Moulding characters into the roles of heist archetypes like the techy (Ludacris’s Tej), the quick talker (Tyrese Gibson’s Roman), and the social chameleon (Sung Kang’s Han) is handled really well and it feels like an extension of the characters we’ve already meant rather than a complete reinvention.
Having all these characters come together and become friends, some of which previously knew Dom before while some only knew Brian, fully cements the key theme of this franchise – family. It’s a theme that had been there from the start but really, it’s once this cast of actors and characters are finally together that you properly start to connect with that message.
Dwayne Johnson is a brilliant addition to the cast and he is a formidable foe for Walker’s Brian and Diesel’s Dom. Really, Hobbs is a combination of the two of them; he has the knowledge of the legal system of Brian, the physical strength of Dom, and is just as loyal to his team as the two of them are to their own family.
The action spectacle of Fast Five is top-notch too. There are foot chases through a favela, an opening set piece with a heist on a train, brutal fistfights, and then there’s the climax which sees a lot of destruction on the streets of Rio. All the action sequences are exciting, well-shot and easy to follow and above all, they are really fun.
Fast Five is a thrill ride from start to finish. The false starts, and not so great films that came before it, can be forgiven because this one is a fantastic blend of action, intrigue, fun and above all – likeable characters that are one big family. Fast Five really set the bar for what the rest of the franchise could be. 5/5.
After getting busted for street racing, disgraced former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is enlisted to bust dangerous criminal Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). Brian recruits his childhood friend and fellow street racer Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) to bring down Verone, and in the process earn their freedom.
2 Fast 2 Furious is the first film in the franchise without Vin Diesel and instead there’s the chemistry between Walker and Gibson that sees you through this film. Maybe Paul Walker just had natural charm and chemistry with everyone? Having Roman be a childhood friend of Brian’s means you get a bit more of his backstory, and as the two of them have known each other for so long, there’s easy camaraderie with each of them calling the other out on their antics when needed. The filmmakers did well not to try and replicate the Brian and Dom dynamic, and instead created a very different foil for Brain in Roman. Roman is loud, brash and kinda ridiculous but he’s a guy with a heart of gold under all that bluster and Gibson and Walker make the not-great bantering dialogue work.
Helping Brian and Roman on their mission is undercover agent Monica Fuentes (an underused Eva Mendes). She’s undercover working for Verone and the moments where the danger is truly apparent for her, Brian and Roman, you can see her calm façade start to crack. Other characters who help out Brian are his friends; garage owner Tej (Ludacris) and racer Suki (Devon Aoki). Suki is a character I’d love to make an appearance in another Fast & Furious film, she’s so cool, a great driver and says so much with just a look.
2 Fast 2 Furious has some good car chases but it’s a car decoy scene in the final act that really steals the show. It’s inventive and touches on the set pieces full of characters coming together, both minor ones and main ones, to help solve a problem that become more frequent in future films in the series.
2 Fast 2 Furious is fun, fast-paced and the car chases are sharper than those in the previous film. It sets up a great new character dynamic, and the sometimes-cheesy dialogue can be forgiven as it really is a fun film that’s perhaps more joyful than the first one as it refuses to take itself seriously. 3/5.
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.
Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their family for what happened to his brother in London. In order to find Shaw before he finds them, they help government agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) rescue a hacker and their device that can locate anyone on the planet.
If you know what the Fast & Furious franchise is about, you’ll know what to expect from this film. There’s the ridiculously amazing car stunts, the great team/ family dynamics and there will be some girls in skimpy outfits. It’s over the top and brilliant.
All the stunts and fight scenes are incredible and the trailer really just teases them. The sequence where the cars drop out of the plane goes on a lot longer and it’s a sequence that just keeps on giving. The various fight scenes are also great – I especially liked the one between Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey).
Statham is a great addition to the Fast & Furious franchise. He is a threatening presence throughout the whole film and always manages to show up and cause problems for the team when they’re least expecting it. His character’s introduction is truly brilliant, you don’t see him do much in the way of violence but it definitely establishes him as a force to be reckoned with.
Like the previous films in the franchise, in Fast & Furious 7 each character has their time to shine. Whether that’s Roman (Tyresse Gibson) crashing a party and making it incredibly awkward, Tej (Ludacris) hacking into a high security penthouse or Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with a huge machine gun. It was great seeing so many of these characters who do feel like a family back together again.
Obviously production on Fast & Furious 7 was put on hold due to the tragic death of Paul Walker. You can tell that rewrites had to happen because in a sense it feels like two films, one with Deckard Shaw as the main bad guy and one with the secret government agent Mr. Nobody, that have been pushed into one big film. This means that some plot threads don’t always work and it would have been nice to fully concentrate on one aspect of the film but with what they had, they have made another action-packed, funny and thrilling film.
Fast & Furious 7 is a bit bittersweet really, especially if you’re a big fan of the franchise and its characters. It gives a wonderful tribute to Paul Walker and the character of Brian O’Conner that will leave just about anyone chocked up. It’s a fitting end to the film, and (possibly though probably not due to how much money it’s set to make) to the franchise as a whole. Fast & Furious 7 is big, bold and a lot of fun and is possibly even better than the last film. 4/5.