Monday, April 13, 2015
A couple of points first. I love action movies. I recognize them as escapist fare. Who doesn’t love a good thrill ride? Who doesn’t like to sit in a theater and think “COOL!!!” when some spectacular feat is performed right before your eyes on a giant screen in THX sound?
There are always plot holes. You have to suspend a certain amount of belief. When Superman turns back into Clark Kent how come his business suit is never wrinkled? And where on the Superman costume does he store Clark’s glasses? When James Bond is captured, why doesn't the supervillain just shoot him? How does Jack Bauer get cellphone service in an airplane? Who teaches Indiana Jones’ classes when he’s off looking for Jesus’ pencilbox? You have to allow for some creative license. We pay good money precisely to “cut to the chase.”
Filmmakers need to up the ante. That’s the nature of action flicks. 70 year-old Lotte Lenya trying to kick James Bond with a spike in her shoe ain’t gonna cut it anymore (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE). We’ve seen explosions. Ho hum. We’ve been on car chases. Nameless armies in matching colorful jumpsuits have been wiped out by one secret agent or anthropology professor. New stunts must be conceived. And executed. Thanks to CGI, blue screen, and other techno tricks, seemingly anything you can imagine can now be realized.
The first FAST & FURIOUS was a fun movie. There were some white-knuckle sequences and they did a great job of establishing relationships between the lead-foot drivers.
So I went into FURIOUS 7 with high hopes and low expectations.
Now my review, hopefully in a style not too derivative of Pauline Kael:
FURIOUS 7 is an absolute fucking mess! What the fuck was that?! No, seriously! There’s not a fucking frame of this stink burger that’s rooted in any reality. Roadrunner cartoons are more realistic. Is this what the action film genre has become? Mindless idiotic fucking stunts that defy all laws of gravity, physics, logic, and common sense? Hand-to-hand combat where the combatants beat the living shit out of each other and neither is even bruised? They crash through glass walls. No cuts. They hit each other with lead pipes. No blood. Their heads are smashed through concrete walls – not even a mild concussion. What the fuck was I watching? Nobody dies. Cars go over cliffs, roll over seventeen times, are twisted gnarled wrecks when they finally come to a rest 1,000 feet down the hill, and the passengers just wriggle out without so much as a scratch. At least Wile E. Coyote looks disheveled when he swallows a lit stick of dynamite that explodes in his stomach. Not Vin Diesel. Not Jason Stratham. Not the Rock. Creative license is one thing but this is fucking preposterous.
In THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, a skier takes off from a mountain and we follow him down thousands of feet until a parachute opens. It’s a thrilling memorable sequence. Why? Because it really happened. There was a stuntman who actually skied off a mountain. NONE of these fucking FURIOUS stunts were real. No fucking car drove from building to building. It’s all bullshit.
And the dialogue was worse than the stunts. Just one fucking cliché or slogan after another delivered in dead serious tones.
“The thing about a street fight is that the street always wins.”
“I’m going to put a hurting on him so bad, he’s gonna wish his mama kept her legs closed.”
“Time to unleash the beast.”
“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. You do too. That’s why we’re brothers.”
Then, as an afterthought they do a tacked-on tribute to the late Paul Walker. It’s maudlin and cringeworthy. And somewhat offensive considering he died in an auto accident and the movie celebrates two-plus rollicking hours of crash porn.
I fully expect to get some angry comments. I’m too old to appreciate head-on collisions at full speed where nobody even gets whiplash. I somehow missed the subtleties of the complex relationships (Paul Walker is having a hard time adjusting to being a father and not leaping out of planes – haven’t seen that storyline before), I take things too literal (like the existence of gravity), I’m jealous, I’m not as smart as critics, I have a thing against reckless driving, Vin Diesel wouldn’t let me create a sitcom for him, Sean Connery isn’t in it, I’m a snob, I now can’t sell my idea for a new Tom & Jerry movie, I don’t appreciate “Furious LORE,” or finally, I’m just an idiot.
Have at it. But it’s not going to change my mind. On a scale of 1-100, I’d have to say FURIOUS 7.
To repeat: What the fuck?!
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM