Posts Tagged ‘Fast and Furious’


Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 3.00.43 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “The Last Witch Hunter,” “Remember” and “Room.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.29.39 AMVin Diesel is a Witch Hunter in the appropriately named “The Last Witch Hunter,” Christopher Plummer hunts Nazis in “Remember,” while Brie Larson searches for freedom in “Room” and Bill Murray looks for redemption in “Rock the Kasbah.” Richard reviews them all with “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro: Vin Diesel, before he blew up and helped gross $4 billion for Fast and Furious

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.44.59 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Usually the scariest thing about Vin Diesel is the amount of money his movies make. The Fast and Furious franchise has raked in more than $4 billion. Add in revenue from Guardians of the Galaxy and Riddick and you have a truly terrifying amount of money.

In his new film, The Last Witch Hunter, the raspy-voiced actor boasts, “You know what I’m afraid of? Nothing,” as he delivers scares playing an immortal warrior who must prevent evil New York witches from destroying the world. The 48-year-old is so convinced the movie will do well, he’s already announced that the studio is developing a sequel.

“The first one doesn’t hit theatres until October 23rd,” he wrote on Facebook in July, “yet they want me to commit and already block out time to film it.”

Before Fast and Furious made him Hollywood’s version of an ATM, Diesel made baby steps towards becoming a superstar. Director Steven Spielberg saw Multi-Facial, Diesel’s self directed, written, produced and scored über low budget short film and was so taken with the young actor he had the role of Private Caparzo in Saving Private Ryan specially written for him. The result was an effective performance that mixed physicality with poignancy. Winning the role, he says, was “like one of those Hollywood fairy tales that you never believed.”

Critics began to take notice. New York Times critic A.O. Scott said he, “may be the sexiest ugly man in movies since Anthony Quinn” as Diesel lent his distinctive gravelly voice to the title character in the animated film The Iron Giant and played streetwise stockbroker Chris Varick in the 2000 stockbroker drama Boiler Room.

His breakout performance came with the sci-fi film Pitch Black. “Richard B. Riddick,” he says by way of introduction. “Escaped convict. Murderer.” Artificial eyes allow Riddick to see in the dark, making him very useful when bloodthirsty creatures attack during a month-long eclipse. The character became a franchise for the actor, spawning sequels, video games and animated films.

“I know it sounds corny but I feel like I learn about myself when I play that character,” said Diesel. “Going to that dark isolated place produces some kind of vision or understanding about myself. He mirrors my own quest for identity, my eternal quest as a child.”

Movies like Knockaround Guys and Babylon A.D. played on his tough guy persona, but with The Pacifier he tried to switch from cracking ribs to tickling funny bones. Playing a Navy Seal assigned to protect a house full of out-of-control kids, he attempted to prove he was more than just a muscle mass that got lucky in pictures. The chaotic comedy made some money, but ultimately proved Diesel’s strength lay in muscle, not mayhem.

Since then he has stayed the course, pumping out action-adventure films — including the soon-to-be relaunched xXx — proving himself to be a great action star. Smarter than Stallone, younger than Schwarzenegger and with even less hair than Bruce Willis, his appeal transcends his biceps, as he also appears to have a brain in his head. Throw in a large dollop of charisma and look out Jason Statham, you’re about to be kick boxed into the old age home.

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER: 2 STARS. “generic action movie plus witches.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.48.17 PMVin Diesel looks good for an 800 year-old-man… er… immortal witch hunter. He’s Kaulder, a former mortal whose family was wiped out by the Witch Queen’s (Julie Engelbrecht) deadly black plague. The only way to destroy her is to still her beating heart, but before he can do so she places a hex on him. With all his family gone he has nothing to live for, so she curses him with immortality.

Centuries later he’s a supernatural superman, living in a swank Central Park South apartment and bedding flight attendants when he’s not subduing bad witches. Known as “the Weapon,” he works with a Dolan—a spiritual advisor—and helps enforce the uneasy truce that has been struck between witches and humans. When Dolan 36 (Michael Caine) steps down and winds up dead within twenty-four hours (“I’ve seen people get old, retire and die but rarely on the same day,” Kaulder says.) the hunter knows evil forces are at work. With the aid of Dolan 37 (Elijah Wood) and an unlikely witch ally (“Game of Thrones” star Rose Leslie) Kaulder seeks to finally put an end to an ancient evil.

“You know what I’m afraid of?” asks Kaulder. “Nothing. It’s boring really.” And so is “The Last Witch Hunter” because nothing remotely scary happens. It’s as though the film was originally written as a straight ahead action movie. Here’s the pitch: Gravelly-voiced man fights the baddies with the help of an aging mentor and a sidekick. It’s the generic hero’s journey. It’s “The Dark Knight” without the cape (but with Michael Caine). It feels like someone read the script early on and said, “You know what would make this great? Witches and Vin Diesel,” but even the addition of supernatural elements like Dreamwalkers, cranky witches and immortality can’t disguise the fact that this is as generic an action movie as we’ve seen this year.

It follows a familiar pattern: Action scene followed by witch hunting mumbo jumbo that segues into a fight scene. Reset with a buddy, buddy scene featuring dialogue like, “You’re not qualified for what happens next.” Add to the mix flashbacks, light romance and loud special effects and you have every generic action movie ever made… with witches.

Diesel is fast and furious enough to deliver the “Conan the Barbarian” level dialogue (like: “The benefit of eternal life is that I get to kill you twice!”) with conviction but the movie is dull enough you’ll wish these witches would go away for a spell.


Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 3.26.32 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Furious 7,” “Woman in Gold” and “While We’re Young” with anchor Farah Nasser.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 10.02.05 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Furious 7,” “Woman in Gold” and “While We’re Young.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

FURIOUS 7: 3 ½ STARS. “a crowd pleaser that never misses a chance to rev its engine.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 4.50.07 PMThe beauty of the “Fast and the Furious” movies is their simplicity. The high concept of the new film can be summed up in a handful of words—a dead man’s brother seeks revenge on the Toretto gang—but fans don’t flock to the films for the story, they come to see the wild celebration of muscle cars, muscle shirts and muscle heads, and in this, “Furious 7” does not disappoint.

The new film begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and company (Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jordana Brewster) finally attempting to lead normal lives back in the United States. The timely wounding of mercenary and bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans)—he was gravely injured in the last film when the Mercedes G463 he was in flew out of the cargo dock of a moving plane—was the last obstacle between the “F&F” crew and peace and tranquility. Trouble is, Owen’s older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) wants revenge. Adding intrigue to the mix is a mysterious maybe-he’s-a-good-guy-maybe-he’s-not government operative named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), beautiful hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)—“That is a woman worth falling out of a plane for,” says Roman.—and a ruthless warlord (Djimon Hounsou) who yells “Get him!” every few minutes.

That’s it. After that it’s all snappy one-liners, wild car chases, fight scenes, etc.

You might want to have your cholesterol checked after “Furious 7.” This much cheese in one serving can’t be good for you. You may also get sunburnt from the reflected glare of all the explosions. The new “F&F” movie might not be good for you, but it is two hours and twenty minutes of no-airbag fun.

It’s also a further step toward the James Bonding of the series. But not the Daniel Craig 007. “Furious 7” has more in common with the realm of the ridiculous gadget heavy Bond movies that featured exotic locations, automobile acrobatics—there’s every kind of car crash here, including a wild car chase inside a luxury apartment!—and villainous characters. Not content with just one bad guy “Furious 7” offers up two, Statham as the revenge starved brother-on-a-mission and, as back-up, the trigger happy Hounsou

It also gives the silliest of Bond stories—I’m looking at you “Moonraker”—a run for its money. The plot isn’t as much a story as it is justification to put the characters in motion. Why risk life-and-limb to get access to a computer program that will help Toretto’s clan located Shaw when he seems to pop up around every corner? It’s the thing that fuels most of the action, and it makes absolutely no sense at all. At best it is an excuse to introduce Ramsey, the picture’s Bond girl.

Not that any of that matters. Audiences don’t go to the “F&F” movies to engage their brains; they go for the crazy stunts and the cocky swagger. They go for the “vehicular warfare,” the “No way!” moments and Diesel’s rumble and mumble line delivery. Here Vin goes head to head with Statham for the title of Gravelliest Voiced Action Star, and winds up in a tie.

Subtle it ain’t but that is the beauty of these movies. They know what they are and they deliver time in and time out. From Diesel’s “unleash the beast” scenes to mano- a-car action, “Furious 7” exists in its own ecosystem where Dwayne “Daddy’s got to go to work” Johnson’s can remove a cast from his broken arm by simply flexing his oversized biceps and cars can effortlessly glide from one high rise to another.

As important as the action are the camaraderie and loyalty. “I don’t have friends,” says Dom, “ I have family,” a point nicely made in a touching coda paying tribute to star Paul Walker who died in a car accident in November 2013.

“Furious 7” is a bit long—a movie like this should be a down-and-dirty eighty-eight minutes—but it’s also a loud-and-proud crowd pleaser that never misses a chance to rev its engine.

Metro Canada In Focus: Franchise holds fast to franchise

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 4.52.34 PMFurious 7 has already generated its share of column inches from entertainment journalists. The cast has spent the last few weeks doing the junket rounds, talking to everyone with a microphone or a notepad, generating sound bites and stories that have fed newspapers, websites and television shows.

Star Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Letty Ortiz, spoke of getting “pretty crazy” after co-star Paul Walker’s death. “I was pushing myself to feel,” she said by way of explanation of some of her tabloid level behaviour in the last year.

Ludacris, who has played technical expert Tej Parker in four F&F films, told the Today show, “We’re about to make history as the most successful franchise of all time.”

Vin Diesel has talked about naming his daughter after his friend and co-star Walker—“ “There’s no other person that I was thinking about as I was cutting this umbilical cord.”—and made grand pronouncements about the quality of his film.

“Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie,” Diesel said, likely sounding as though he’s dragging every word through sandpaper. “It will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.”

He’s likely only half wrong. In 2011 he made a similar award season prediction about Fast 5 and while that didn’t pan out, the movie made a fortune, grossing north of six hundred million dollars worldwide.

He’s right to say that the new film will surely put the pedal to the metal and sell a lot of popcorn. Despite so-so reviews the Fast and Furious franchise has an EZ Pass to the box office fast lane, grossing two billion plus dollars since racing into theatres in 2001. “Just because they are for the working class doesn’t mean they’re not great,” Diesel said.

F&F fans enjoy the formula, which can be broken down to essentially this: Swagger interrupted by a snappy one liner, a wild car chase, a fight scene, repeat.

The movies aren’t Kierkegaard, and that’s one of the reasons they haven’t run out of gas yet. Over seven entries they’ve remained loud and proud, lowbrow and unashamed. They’re a wild celebration of muscle cars, muscle shirts and muscle heads. Like an engorged Hot Wheels set, the films are playthings for the directors—there have been 4 over the run of the series—who tow the company line time after time offering up a car crushing stew where sophisticated line readings and nuanced storytelling take a backseat to frenetic editing and in-your-face explosive action. They exist in a world where people only drink Budweiser and bastardizations like Bud Lime don’t exist. That purity of vision is the beauty of the series.

Sure, they change things up from time to time by adding new characters but casting The Rock or Jason Statham isn’t much of a stretch. Both have migrated from the kind of turbo charged action movies that could be considered companion pieces to the F&F films and both have the kind of poly-appeal that makes men want to be them and women want to see them.

Despite the loss of Paul Walker, you can bet Furious 7 won’t be the last movie in the series. As long as the formula works and the money continues to come in fast and furious Diesel and company won’t put these films in the rear view mirror.

BRICK MANSIONS: 3 STARS. “wild enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.”

Brick Mansions/EuropacorpPaul Walker’s untimely death in November of last year cut short a fast and furious career. The handsome leading man specialized in high-octane movies that often valued action over story. The “Fast and Furious” films made him a star and defined his testosterone-steeped genre. His new film, “Brick Mansion” is another pedal-to-the-metal actioner that could easily have been titled “The Fast and the Frenetic.”

Based on a ten-year-old French movie called “District 13,” this time around the story is set in Detroit just a few years from now. The film largely takes place inside a walled off, run down neighborhood called Brick Mansions. The bankrupt city has abandoned the area, leaving it to Tremaine (RZA), a drug lord who rules his mini kingdom with an iron fist. When he comes in control of a neutron bomb, undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is teamed with anti-drug crusader and parkour expert Lino (David Belle) to find the bomb and Tremaine in just ten hours.

“Brick Mansions” is the kind of movie where the hero says, ‘This is a really bad idea,” before doing some crazy, dangerous stunt. The action and story (by Luc Besson) are by-the-book—the “find the bomb!” plotline boils down to the oldest thriller tricks, the ticking bomb—but are performed with zeal by Walker and Belle, who is one of the inventors of parkour. The stunts are wild, although shot in such a frenetic style it is occasionally hard to keep track of who is punching who.

Walker is suitably stoic as the straight-arrow undercover cop. He’s physical—flipping through the air like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast without mussing his perfect hair—and doesn’t step out of his (and his audience’s) action movie comfort zone.

In fact, no one goes too far out of their comfort zones. RZA is brings some menace to Mr. “I don’t do anxious. I cause anxious.” Tremaine, and Belle never saw a window or an opening he couldn’t swing through feet first.

Despite having one of the silliest feel good endings in the history of action movies, “Brick Mansions” is an engaging movie. It won’t engage your brain, but is wild enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.