Jason Statham

Review: Fast & Furious 7

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Fast & Furious 7

The Pitch: I didn’t think there was any way I could top the stupidity of my Fast & Furious 6 review. Well…

The Limerick Review (BOOM! In your face, stupidity):

There once was a man named Rob Cohen
Who got this film / car series goin'
He directed the first,
With his camera immersed
In car's exhausts, constantly flowin'.

Next, sequels; but Diesel was missing,
Then Walker too his role dismissing,
As the quality waned
We were less entertained
And critics were ranting and hissing.

But Justin Lin then had a great thought:
The cast from the first film were all sought
For more thieving car stunts,
Once more with Vin's deep grunts
For his girl died (or so he had thought).

The fifth film showed yet more evolving,
The casting door still was revolving,
With the stars back en bloc
They then added The Rock,
So cheesy but oddly involving.

The sixth sorted out continuity,
But its plotting was lacking acuity.
Yet the post-credits scene
Kept the audience keen:
Add The Stath? Oh what great ingenuity!

Wait! The promise of bald Jason's madness
Was tempered with deep real-life sadness
For Walker died too young;
His virtues were then sung.
The films had no choice but to digress.

The Paul Walker issue's a distraction
For he'd only filmed half his action.
His brothers helped out 
And CG's pixel clout
Gave once again narrative traction.

A year late comes this sixth film sequel,
The Stath now arriving to wreak hell
Avenging Luke Evans
(Near sent to the heavens);
Can only be tracked by Kurt Russell.

(The adding of Kurt ain't for nuthin':
The man behind this film's MacGuffin. 
By hiring Snake Plissken
There's less of a risk in
Him fading away to a has-been.)

Our gang tours the world with Stath chasing,
With barely a mention of racing
But cars are the main tools
With which they make big fools
Of logic, and physics debasing.

The main draw's the film's whack set-pieces
Whose grasp on the real world decreases
With cars in the sky
In the blink of an eye;
Admit it, the script's mostly faeces.

You may think it of me quite petty
To complain of amnesiac Letty;
There's now so much plot 
In these films, I forgot!
The story's more strands than spaghetti.

The emotional core's based on family;
A shame that side's handled so hammily.
Yet wide demographics
Like flashy car graphics - 
Thank casting spread wide geographically.

There's so many stars, some neglected:
The Rock's presence barely detected.
We lost Han Seoul-Oh
And Gisele (Gal Gadot)... 
Wait, that t's pronounced. (Rhyme rejected.)

Not even two deaths have helped thin out
The bloated cast list; yet they win out.
They might just enchant ya
With their cheeky banter
And car stunts which might get your grin out.

This time Lin has gone, Wan's arriving,
Saw's James this time wrangling the driving.
This director-for-hire
Doesn't raise standards higher
His style from the genre deriving.

His one fetish greater than fast cars
Is his lens outlining each girl's arse
As each one that's hot
Wanders into his shot
Their bottoms are making them film stars.

Overall, Fast 7's not realistic
Its scenery's quite chauvinistic
But if you like a laugh
You could do worse by half
Than the year's big box office statistic.

Why see it at the cinema:

If you like fast cars and loose women,
Then don't hesitate, drop your linen,
Get straight down to the flicks
For big stunts and hot chicks.
(If you miss it you'll be forgiven.)

What about the rating? 

The BBFC gave a 12A
You'll find out at this link what they say.
They gave it for swearing
And violence; They're caring
About all film viewers. (Not child's play.)

My cinema experience:

A Stevenage Cineworld threesome,
(For which I will not give a reason)
I also saw two more.
The others that I saw
Weren't bad either, despite no Liam Neeson.
They did have Russ Crowe and Ben Stiller,
With this film to their sandwich: filler.
The Water Diviner
Was slightly less finer
And While We're Young wasn't a killer.

The Score: 7/10

Review: The Mechanic

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The Pitch: Jason Statham is [Random Job Title Generator #63].

The Review: You might not thank me for reminding you of the Expendables, but I’m going to do it anyway. One thing was immediately noticeable in terms of the cast – there was a massive array of talent from ten, twenty and thirty years ago, but the only person really working at the same level from the current era of movie stars was Jason Statham. After coming to prominence in Guy Ritchie movies, Statham has become the closest thing we have to an A-list action star in the 21st century. The Transporter and Crank movies appeal to particular audiences, happy to accept The Stath knowing his limits on the acting front but getting by on his natural rough charisma and undoubted ability to knock out solid action scenes time after time.

The franchise model for the older action star required one series, such as a Rocky or a Die Hard, to make your name with, then a series of forgettable but often enjoyable lesser movies where you can get your lead to play the same role with a different name. Arthur Bishop doesn’t quite hold a candle to Chev Chelios or Lee Christmas, but it’s strange enough in context that it’s all Arthur and his date from a bar have to talk about (once they’ve had a highly over-stylised sex scene just after meeting, of course). But it’s not random sex scenes or unusual names that get Statham’s fans turning out time after time, it’s the generally solid quality of the action scenes that keep people coming back. And I’m pleased to report that the action here, while not quite being at Crank levels of insanity or intensity, are at least better than the back end of the Transporter series.

But before that, of course, there’s the relative necessity of plot to navigate. Thankfully, to make things easier, this is a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson / Michael Winner collaboration, which was famed for its first quarter of an hour being entirely dialogue free. You might think that’s why it’s been selected as ideal remake material for The Stath, but that would be a little unfair, his gravelly stoicism not the stuff of awards but it’s still enough to make a sure foundation for the story to be built on. What this does have in the opening stretch instead is Donald Sutherland, popping up as one of the heads of the firm that keeps Bishop in business – when you see that the other head is Tony Goldwyn, a.k.a. smarmy bad guy from Ghost, there’s no prizes for guessing who’s good and who’s bad. Ben Foster takes the role filled by Jan-Michael Vincent in the original, here playing Sutherland’s son and the trainee mechanic who Bishop reluctantly takes under his wing.

This isn’t a film packed with staggering plot twists or intricate character drama, although it is well acted in comparison to its peers and it has the decency to throw us a variation on the ending of the original. But The Mechanic is like Statham himself; solid, undemanding, reliable and with enough satisfying moments to justify its presence. The majority of the action is in the last third and the set pieces are all well constructed. You’re going to struggle to remember too much about it a week after seeing it, but while you’re in front of it it does the job intended with as little fuss as possible. Director Simon West gave us Con Air over a decade ago, and nothing as memorable since – if he let himself loose a little more, there’s the potential for that level of fun next time around, but for now it’s just another day at the office for The Stath.

Why see it at the cinema: The action, the best and most prominent of which is in the last third of the movie, is exactly what popcorn and Saturday nights were designed for.

The Score: 7/10

Movie-Con III Review: The Expendables

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The Pitch: The Magnificent Four And A Half.

The Review: I think I was born at just the wrong age. I was two when Rocky came out, and still at primary school when Arnie was first flexing his biceps for the camera. I did grow up on a diet of action, but it was Die Hard and Robocop that helped shape my formative years. But as action movies, driven by those late Eighties classics, have evolved and grown more complex over the last thirty years, I’ve come to appreciate the dumber things in life. While I like to be intellectually challenged by some of my viewing, once in a while you just need to see stuff get blown up real good.

So thank goodness for Sylvester Stallone. He’s managed to find ways to extend his Rambo and Rocky series well past their natural lifespans, but especially in Rocky’s case he’s tried to find a different perspective with age. There is a part of the audience for these movies though, in which I shamelessly include myself, that longs for the succession of cheesy one liners and men shooting things until they explode. Forget character development and intricate plot developments – and by and large Stallone has, in a return to old school action movie making.

The concept felt fairly high to start with – cram as many action movie stars, old and new, onto the screen and let them have fun. Sensibly, the central team isn’t too numerous, with the big names evenly divided across the good, the bad and the morally ambivalent, but only a few get any real screen time. The highlights are Jason Statham for the good guys, who Stallone seems to have recognised uses his charisma to cover up his acting deficiencies, but who uses his particular Transporter-style fighting to the best effect in the many, many, many fights and brawls. For the bad guys, Eric Roberts chews the scenery and spits it in every direction, probably about the only one to find just the right tone. Mercifully, Stallone avoids the ageist navel-gazing that ultimately crippled the likes of the Lethal Weapon series, but there is still slightly too much contemplation at times. Come on, blow something up, will ya?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means perfect. The action scenes vary from the pretty good to the I-don’t-understand-what-just-happened-because-you-can’t-shoot-or-edit-properly, Stallone’s attempts to add emotional resonance, mainly in scenes with Mickey Rourke, have all the depth of the shallow end of a paddling pool and are about as enjoyable, a joke about Jet Li’s height wears so thin you can see through it and there isn’t a truly iconic action sequence that will stand the test of time. But it does deliver just enough big muscles, big explosions and giant pulsating stupidity to be a guilty pleasure.

Why see it at the cinema: Actually, if you want an action movie to watch this summer, try The A Team. You can watch that any time. The Expendables should only be seen on a Friday or Saturday night, with a willing crowd who are as drunk as possible. That is a recommendation, in case you were wondering.

The Score: 7/10