Posts Tagged ‘Paul Walker’


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.


Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 11.18.33 AMRichard Crouse sounds off on his reviews for this week’s releases: ‘The Other Woman’ and ‘Brick Mansions.’

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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.


Fast-and-Furious-6I don’t know how much “Fast & Furious 6” cost to make. The huge cast must be raking in substantial paychecks by now and you’d need to be a mathematician to figure out the number of cars they destroy. Heck, just the screeching tire sound effect budget alone was probably worth more than

The new movie is the culmination of the previous five. A greatest hits—literally, there are some wild crashes here—featuring characters from most of the films in the series. All the old faves are back—drug lord Braga (John Ortiz), Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and even Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who was presumed dead in the last installment—in a story that doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but if it was supposed to make sense it would be called “Sedans and Sensibility” or maybe “Of Miatas and Men.”

No, this is a “Fast & Furious” movie that plays fast and furious with believability but still delivers a pretty good time at the movies.

Picking up where “Fast Five” left off, when we first meet Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Company they are wealthy outlaws, living in countries with no extradition to the United States. Their quiet lives are disrupted when a gang led by super villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) stages a daring raid that threatens international security. A task force led by Hobbs (Johnson) calls on the expertise of the furious fugitives to help bring Shaw to justice. It becomes personal for Dom when he discovers that his former girlfriend Letty is working with Shaw.

These movies are review proof. If you liked the other movies in the franchise, you’ll like this one. It’s faster and furiouser than the others, so drenched in machismo—the women are even macho—you can almost smell the Brut cologne, but other than that it is essentially the same film.

It can be broken down to essentially this: Swagger interrupted by a snappy one liner, a wild car chase, a fight scene, repeat.

The themes of loyalty and friendship are still at the forefront, usually expressed in very dramatic dialogue delivered in the best teen noir style by Diesel who speaks every line as though he is dragging it through sandpaper but that wouldn’t mean much if cars don’t become air born before they burst into flames.

“Fast & Furious 6” puts the pedal to the metal one more time in a franchise that will eventually run out of gas, but for now is still running on fumes.

Eight Below

o_8below_1_6Eight Below is the story of a boy and his dog. Actually, make that an extremely good-looking boy and his dogs. Based on a Japanese movie that was, in turn, based on a true story, Eight Below probably has little to do with what actually happened to eight Arctic sled dogs left behind by their trainer when bad weather prevented him from air lifting them to safety, but it does have the elements of a good family film.

Paul Walker plays the good-looking trainer and Arctic tracker who feels he betrayed his dogs when, through no fault of his own, he was forced to leave them to die. These dogs are not simply his best friends, but also, the movie would have us believe, his soul mates. He tries to make his way back to the Arctic to save them, but to no avail. The worst winter storm in 25 years has made the trip impossible. Meanwhile the dogs are left to their own defenses, and the movie follows their progress as well as our hero’s.

As with most Disney dog movies you actually care more about the dogs than the bland actors surrounding them. Paul Walker has the looks of a leading man, but the charisma of a mannequin come to life. Jason Biggs, late of the American Pie movies, is clearly here for comedic relief but seems out of place, as though he is still trying to lose his virginity by prom night.

Luckily we have the housebroken actors. Their story of survival—March of the Huskies?—is the most compelling story in the movie, but be warned there are a couple of Old Yeller moments that might wring a few tears from younger viewers. The filmmakers made a very wise choice not to use any CGI for the dog’s faces, and as a result these dogs look natural and inspire emotion.

Eight Below is a good, solid family film although some scenes may be a little intense for tots.