Tag Archives: Helen Mirren

Movie review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’ way too serious

“The Fate of the Furious” (PG-13)

While it’s not a total spinout, “The Fate of the Furious” – the eighth film in the seemingly endless “Fast and Furious” franchise – seems to have lost its way following the blockbuster worldwide success of “Furious 7.” After an entertaining 10-minute race scene to kick off the film, “The Fate of the Furious” quickly loses the type of self-aware sense of humor that made the last film such a joy; and remains stuck in neutral with a formulaic action movie plot until it miraculously pulls itself out a funk for the third act of the movie.

Diesel is back for his sixth “Furious” film as Dominic Toretto, the cocksure street racer who has evolved over the film series into the leader of a band of international mercenaries whose jobs often find them trying to save the world from disaster. But when Dom is coerced by notorious super hacker Cipher (Theron) to go rogue, he’s forced to turn against his crew in order to secure an EMP device that has the power to shut down a major city and turn the scene into complete chaos. And that’s not all …

Convinced that Dom is taking commands against his will, the crew (including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Michelle Rodriguez – whose Letty is now married to Dominic) takes up an offer from government shade Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new right hand, dubbed “Little Nobody” (Scott Eastwood, who appears to be filling the void left by late Paul Walker) to recover the EMP and other potential weapons of mass destruction to clean their crime-riddled slates.

While its far inferior to “Furious 7,” “The Fate of the Furious” isn’t a bad movie – the action in the final third alone will give audience members what they’re looking for with subplot that involved a Russian nuclear submarine. Thankfully stars like Johnson, Jason Statham, Russell and Helen Mirren (who sadly appears for about 5 minutes in a pair of scenes) didn’t wait that long to let you know they’re in the joke.

On the flip side, Vin Diesel and the film’s new villain, played by Charlize Theron, are trying to play it straight throughout  the film; proving that even Oscar winners can’t act their way out of horrific dialogue.

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Fate of the Furious” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show.”

A little sense of humor clearly would have gone a long way, and while Diesel attempts to charm his way through the opening scene, playing it straight for most of the way exposes all of the actor’s weaknesses (mainly, that he only knows how to play one type of character – a wiseass tough guy) and he hits a low point as he barely squeezes out a couple crocodile tears.

Theron’s turn is almost more painful to watch, though, as her over-the-top madwoman questing world domination borders on a mustache-twitching villain that revels in evil. Theron, like everybody else in “Furious 7” should have been reveling in the ridiculousness of what the franchise it has become. It’s too bad, because Theron has proven otherwise that she’s an extremely talented actress.

True, no amount of criticism will stop “The Fate of the Furious” from being another worldwide blockbuster (“Furious 7” grossed $1.5 billion worldwide two years ago) out of the gate, but the shift in gears to a semi-serious film (“The Fate of the Serious”?) will no doubt be a drag on the long term prospects of the box office and the films that come after it.

Lammometer: 6 (out of 10)

Movie reviews: ‘Divergent: Allegiant, Part 1,’ ‘Eye in the Sky’

Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment

By Tim Lammers

“The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Part 1” (PG-13) 1 1/2 stars (out of four)

A promising big screen adaptation of the “Divergent” book trilogy hits the wall full-force with “The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1,” a dull and predictable first act in the four movie saga. A familiar-feeling tale akin to “The Hunger Games,” “Allegiant” appears to be heading to an even worse big-screen fate than its literary predecessor “Mockingjay.”

Shailene Woodley is back as Tris in the post-apocalyptic city of Chicago, where the city’s residents are no longer divided into five factions based on different virtues: Abnegation (those who are selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Dauntless (fearless) and Erudite (intelligent). The system was an devised to prevent anyone willfully acting out on their own and threatening the other residents of the city.

However, when an uprising against the system (detailed in the second film) yields unpredictable results, Tris and her Divergent companion, Four (Theo James), along with a small group escaped the towering walls of the city to discover high-tech facility housed at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where they discover they’ve been part of an experiment – and it’s not over yet.

While the first “Divergent” posed an interesting premise and the sequel, “Insurgent,” maintained that promise, “Allegian

t – Part 1” has just turned plain silly. Once gritty and engaging, the series makes a jarring shift into a sleek, plastic sci-fi film with the new film, where even the actors seem bored. The acting is terrible and even stalwarts like Jeff Daniels, the architect of the experiment, seems to be phoning in his performance. The filmmakers and actors for “Part 2” have some serious work cut out for them if they’re to salvage the series.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!

“Eye in the Sky” (R) 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

An intense debate over the costs of a deadly but necessary military action plays out in the deeply compelling “Eye in the Sky,” an expertly-directed war thriller by Oscar-winning filmmaker Gavin Hood. Helen Mirren is at her best as Katherine Powell, a no-nonsense British military colonel who after six years ferrets out a group of high-level Al Shabaab terrorists holed up in Kenya. But when the mission turns from capture to kill as it’s discovered two of the members are being prepared for a suicide bombing, a crisis of conscience arises as an innocent 9-year-old girl wanders into the kill zone to likely become a victim of collateral damage.

Aaron Paul also stars as an American drone pilot wrestling with dread as he prepares to pull the trigger on the mission; and Alan Rickman appears in his final big-screen role as decisive British general trying to get the go-ahead on the mission from a group of wishy-washy politicos.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Sixth Scale Figure