Simply the Best, or, Furious Seven

Being genuine is an increasingly ballsy undertaking. When a story lays it out on the line and shoots straight rather than burying its intentions in subtext and nuance it risks inducing eye rolls and coming off like an after school special. But Furious Seven (yes, Furious Seven, sequel to Furious 6. Read the title cards sheeple) has the balls to wear its massive, muscular, exploding, nonsensical heart on its sleeve and it absolutely pays off.

The A-Team

The A-Team

If the emotional nuance of a True Detective or a Boyhood can be equated to sitcoms ditching laugh tracks in favor of subtle quips left to be noticed upon a second viewing, then Furious Seven blasts a laugh track through a subwoofer so loudly your ears have to recalibrate and establish a new aural status quo.

It’s a soap opera, the next chapter in an epic saga in which big personalities feel big emotions and express them through muscle cars and yet rather than melodramatic, Furious Seven feels undeniably sincere, sometimes heartbreakingly so.

What’s sincere about a muscle car parachuting out of a cargo plane, you ask? The unadulterated fun of it all. Furious Seven launches cars off of every conceivable precipice it can find with the giddy excitement of suburban kids launching themselves off of a skateboard ramp for the whole neighborhood to see. If there is a thesis presented by Furious Seven, an intellectual argument made by its sawed-off shotguns and armored cars and 1998 music video editing, it’s that you want to have fun. And it’s a damn compelling argument.

There’s a close up of Vin Diesel’s face as he revs his engine and stares down Jason Statham, a man who is both actively hunting down Diesel’s family and also antagonistically revving his own engine in rebuttal. Diesel is out for blood. He’s ready to charge head first into a battle to the death for the sake of those he loves most in the world. He’s staring Statham down like a rabid animal about to lash out after being cattle prodded into a corner. And yet, there’s a glint in his eye. A glint that shines past critical analysis and detractors, smirks excitedly right as Diesel floors the gas pedal and says “if you had a crush on Furious 6 you’re going to marry this.” And then the skateboard is launched off of the ramp again and the impromptu block party screams and cheers and smiles, cervezas held high.

More than anything else, Furious Seven made me happy.


You Can Only Be So Fast and So Furious, or, Reboot JAWS Right Now

Once upon a time there was a Towne of Tinsel, a Wood of Holly if you will. And much like the rest of America, its denizens were hit hard by the recession, none more so than Universal Studios who, declaring themselves near bankrupt of viable franchises in a world of caped crusaders and men of steel, was instead relegated to churning out entries in the Fast and Furious franchise with the vigor of a young Paul Walker.

Only Universal is a bunch of dumbasses because they’re sitting on the most viable franchise of all: a cinematic castle of undeniable grandeur and panache with the hutzpah and red, white and blue blood of an All-American cowboy.

Universal owns the rights to Jaws.




Jaws is the original blockbuster. Jaws put Stephen Spielberg on the map. Jaws is about a shark.

Sure the reboot path induces eye rolls here and there, but for every one hundred Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights there’s a Batman Begins. Aren’t those odds worth a roll of the dice?

Stephen Spielberg is a cinematic institution and there would undoubtedly be any number of modern auteurs ready to adapt his first masterwork with the care of a lifelong fan. J.J. Abrams could blind an octo-limbed, reptile-primate shark to death with lens flare. David O. Russell could pit an impoverished, down on his luck Mark Wahlberg against a colossal shark in Boston harbor. David Fincher’s Jaws could miserably rape and murder the innocent against beautifully shot backdrops of the exotically mundane.

The options are limitless!

A rogue man-eating Great White shark doesn’t have to be a senseless killing machine anymore. Villains have hearts now too. Maybe Jaws only eats rich white people after escaping an illegitimate Panamanian aquarium funded by corporate hacks as a front for overseas money laundering and the only man that can stop him is a young African American biology teacher who was brought up by an illiterate fisherman after the mysterious ocean-related death of his parents, all set against the backdrop of a racially divided Southern ghetto. Or maybe Jaws is the mother or brother or son or something of another dead Jaws whose fins were cut off by Japanese fishermen and now Jaws is seeking revenge by biting off people limbs like a boss. Or maybe global warming! Something about global warming or climate change or inconvenient truths has to have something to do with sharks somehow. Maybe Jaws decimates a bunch of noobs and there are guts and entrails and bodies all over the place and then some Native America fellah says something about the environment and then cut to black.

There's a sorrow in those eyes just waiting to be mined for Oscar bait.

There’s a sorrow in those eyes just waiting to be mined for Oscar bait.

When the original Jaws was made in 1975 the animatronic shark was the pinnacle of movie monster majesty, but since then advances in movie making have made it possible to truly bring a living, breathing monstrosity of a shark to life like never before.

A reboot could make use of modern animatronics. Twenty years after Jaws Spielberg brought dinosaurs to life with the animatronic T-Rex in Jurassic Park. And now its twenty years from that!

Of course CGI is the most likely option in modern film, and what a masterpiece a CGI Jaws could be. If  James Cameron can make a bunch of made up cat douche bags and their made up hair sex pets look like living breathing things with the magic of computer imaging, just image what computer imaging could make an actually existent living breathing thing look like! And who better to really sell the complex emotional nuance of a Jaws than one Andrew Clement Serkis?

Andy Serkis turned a creepy elf monster, a giant gorilla monster and a regular gorilla monster into believable, sympathetic characters. One can only imagine what such an artist would be capable of if he was put into his little spandex tennis ball suit, had his legs taped together and got thrown in a pull full of dead fish.

Movie magic/SHARK ATTACK!

Movie magic/SHARK ATTACK!

Hollywood gave the shark movie a shot in 1999 with Deep Blue Sea. And it was entirely, undeniably successful. Now, with Universal’s apparent dry well of reliable franchise titles and the movie-going public’s lust for murderer sharks at a nearly 15-year high, there is literally no excuse for Universal not to get the ball rolling on a Jaws franchise. You can only be so fast and so furious for so long and sooner or later rebooting one of their old franchises is going to be Universal’s only option. They can either get with it early or wait until they have no other choice.

Or come up with an original godamn idea.

All Good Things: The End of the 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Initiative, or, Furious Six Six Sixxx

Presumably, in 1999, an underling at Universal fingered through the Pokémon cards in his chain wallet with fingers attached to hands attached to wrists clasped in studded bracelets and suddenly, struck with inspiration, exclaimed “Godamnit I will make Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle) a movie!” Two years later The Fast and the Furious came out and 12 years after that I found myself taking in the experience that is Furious Six (per the opening credits) as part of my nationally renowned 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Initiative. History, am I right?

Aside from potentially forcing myself to watch the first episode of TNT’s The Hero, Furious 6 is, so far as IMDb is concerned, the end of my New Year’s resolution to watch every theatrical release featuring The Rock. And what a finale it was.

Every day is a new day. I'm thankful for every breath I take. I won't take it for granted...

Every day is a new day. I’m thankful for every breath I take. I won’t take it for granted…

Absolutely nothing about Furious Six, or any of its last three counterparts, should ever have worked. Ever. None of it. They shouldn’t even exist. The original film was as awesome as P.O.D.’s “Boom” and earned its Vin Diesel-less sequel, which in turn should have logically been the end of it all, and yet here we are discussing a Fast and Furious franchise. A franchise complete with a cannon comprised of sequels, prequels and interquels. But here we are.

Furious Six picks up almost immediately after the events of Fast Five. That is a sentence that I just wrote and you just read. While Six never quite reaches the masterful heights of the climactic safe sequence or the Dwayne Johnson/Vin Diesel brawl of its predecessor, it maintains enough of the momentum to easily be one of the franchise’s best entries.

The Rock makes good on the promise he made at the end of Fast Five to find Vin Diesel. Again, that is a sentence I just wrote and you just read. And those aren’t even the characters names. Those are the names of the actors. Furious Six. From there Diesel and The Rock broker a deal wherein Diesel and the gang help The Rock take down some British guy, who I don’t recognize from Game of Thrones and who is really good at cars, in return for full pardons so the fast and furious can return home to America and just be fast.

But wait! There’s more! You didn’t think Vin Diesel would do literally the only thing he does ever for “the man” just to pardon all of his DVD player thefts, did you? No, the kick in the butt Diesel’s Dom Toretto gets to undertake one last job after his last one last job is the news that his angry old lover, the deceased Anna Lucia a.k.a. Michelle Rodriguez a.k.a. Letty is still alive.

The Fast and The Furious movies have been a lot of things, but Furious Six marks the first time the film has blasted through the airplane cargo hold of car-based action movies right onto the flaming tarmac of daytime soap operas. Let’s go down the list; a baby, multiple Hispanic women and amnesia. Days of our Fast and Furious Lives.

Of course the car-based action is there in spades and amped up to eleven. Whether it’s the muscle car v. tank bridge-battle turned gravity-defying romantic leap of faith or the two guys v. one guy v. lady v. lady foot chase/fist brawl throughout the London Underground.

Of course the centerpiece of the entire film is undoubtedly the climactic final action sequence in which Dom and the gang use their loudest, fastest, sportiest, most muscly automobiles to bring down a C-130 cargo plane. The sequence is over the top, action packed and easily twenty minutes long. And those NOS fueled twenty minutes are interesting ones, considering that with the plane and cars moving at a consistent minimum of 60 mph the runway would have to be a minimum of a hundred million miles long, a solid 99 million and change miles longer than the worldwide runway average per wherever I would get that statistic.

Just a couple of Joe Cools.

Just a couple of Joe Cools.

It’s an impossibly long runway and an epically long action sequence that goes on far longer than it has any right to and against all odds still holds your attention well after it should. But that hasn’t stopped the Fast and Furious franchise before. Sure the runway should have ended about five minutes into the scene, but the Fast and Furious franchise should have ended immediately after the Vin Diesel-less 2 Fast 2 Furious. Sure the plane should have taken off long before the militia of muscle cars managed to harpoon themselves to its wings, but under absolutely no circumstances should there have been a sequel to Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, a film that couldn’t even lasso the talent of Paul Walker.

But somehow against all odds the ridiculous final set piece to Furious Six just works. And just like the endless climactic runway, the juggernaut speedster franchise has pressed onward and somehow, six entries and over ten years in, just works. Furious Six is so dumb. It is so freaking dumb. And man was it great.

The 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson initiative has been an emotional roller coaster ride, from the shitty sons of Snitch to the Channing Tatum of G.I. Joe Retaliation to the glorification of horrific real life murderers in Pain and Gain to the glorification of real life fake car thieves is Furious Six, which was easily the greatest cinematic feat The Rock has cooked up this year, due in no small part to his own breathtaking biceps and perpetually perspiration-prone pecks.

If I’ve learned anything from my impressive undertaking of The 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Initiaitive it’s a secret and I’m not going to tell you. Nice try. Some will say I wasted my time and money seeing all of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s movies. Some will say I am a really cool dude for being so dedicated to such a noble ideal and that in time the rest of America will join me in the sun. I like to think the second one. With the nobles and stuff.

Only time will tell.

A rock amongst pebbles.

A rock amongst pebbles.

God bless you Dwayne Johnson. You did the Lord’s work in 2013.