Matt’s Movie Review Roundup

The third week in May brings us the latest from the Fast Franchise. Below is my take on Fast X as well as a few other options now available. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.

Fast X (Theaters)
: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriquez, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jason Statham, Jason Momoa, Scott Eastwood, Alan Ritchson, Sung Kang, John Cena, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, and Jordana Brewster
Synopsis: At some point it’s going to be easier to list who’s not in these movies than the cast, which continues to expand. This is the 10th installment in the Fast Franchise and the 11th film in the expanded universe. It’s billed as the beginning of the end. It was always going to be two films—now likely three films. And will that be the end of the franchise? Who knows! At this point, you know what to expect from these films. Since The Fate of the Furious, they’ve gotten increasingly wild, and effects driven. These characters feel more like Marvel heroes than the grounded people they were when it all began back in 2001. And the loss of Paul Walker—this is the now the third feature without his lead character Brian O’Connor—looms large for fans like me. There’s a nice nod to him in the opening here, but it’s getting harder to believe a world where Brian is still alive and yet doesn’t get into the middle of the action with Dom (Diesel), even when his wife Mia (Brewster) still does. This one has a connection to Fast Five—one of the best installments in the franchise—as we’re introduced to Dante (Momoa), whose father was the target of this family. His mission is to make them suffer and to create chaos. And he brings his own style. Dom just wants to be a husband and father, but he also has a drive to protect his extended family. When Dante threatens all that, he drives into action once again. This one ends with a cliff hanger, feeling a lot more like Avengers: Infinity War than previous installments. We’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out, but this still delivers everything you’re expecting from one of these movies. This isn’t a bad movie. In fact, I liked it better than the past two installments, placing it squarely in the middle of the franchise rankings for me. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say I miss the old style of the franchise, which was thrilling but felt grounded more in the real world. This latest phase of the franchise feels cartoonish and over-the-top. That’s equally true of Momoa. Some have enjoyed the wild style of his villain, but it was over-the-top in all the wrong ways for me. He was a distraction that felt unnecessary in both the writing and the choice of performance. It’s also becoming clearer that these films have no real stakes for those involved. Is anyone ever truly dead here? I’m beginning to think the answer is no, so it’s hard to totally believe in the peril that’s depicted. Despite that, it’s a fun summer ride, the kind of film you’d expect.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Kandahar (Theaters May 26)
: Gerard Butler and David Negahban
Synopsis: In this new film, Butler plays Tom Harris, a spy working undercover in Afghanistan. He’s on a job with his interpreter (Negahban) when a leak in the government leads to his cover being blown. Suddenly, he’s the No. 1 target in the country and his one way out—a plane leaving from Kandahar—is many hours and many miles away. Can he and his companion make it to safety in time? That’s the challenge for this film, which comes from director Ric Roman Waugh. Waugh and Butler are frequent collaborators at this point, having teamed on Angel Has Fallen and Greenland in the past. This film presents Butler as a conflicted family man caught in the middle of the action, just trying to shoot his way out. It’s a formula that we’ve seen time and again from Butler in movies and it works about the same here. The story here is OK and some of the action scenes are solid. But this feels a bit too much like a formula we’ve seen before without adding anything especially original or compelling.
Rating: Rated R for violence and language.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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