Weekend Roundup: Fast Five & Ronin reviews

How’s your weekend everyone? Weather-wise we’ve got a touch of Autumn this weekend with temps in 60s and 70s. It’s just PERFECT in my opinion, I LOVE the cooler Autumn weather. I don’t even mind if temps just stay this way all year long 😀

Well some of you know I saw The Family last week, which was dismal through and through. Of course it had no chance to beat Insidious 2 as most people probably flock to a horror movie given that it was Friday the 13th weekend. So is Patrick Wilson the King of Horror now, what with The Conjuring and now the Insidious franchise? Interesting that I first saw him as the oh-so-lame Raoul who stole Christine from the oh-so-sexy Phantom (Gerry Butler, natch!) in Phantom of the Opera 😉

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Anyhoo, it’s quite a prolific home-theater time as I ended up watching three movies, including a rewatch of one of my all time guilty pleasure The Man in the Iron Mask, which I featured a couple of years ago. I primarily love this movie for the the four actors playing d’Artagnan and the three Musketeers: Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu. Byrne stole my heart as the courageous but conflicted d’Artagnan and he remains my favorite character. I also enjoyed the music by Nick Glennie-Smith, I still hum it from time to time.

Speaking of old favorites, I also watched my favorite John Woo movie and surely one of my favorite 90s action flicks Face/Off. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are both electrifying as each play the hero and villain of the film. Preposterous, yes, absurd beyond comprehension, but heck if it isn’t fun! Both actors clearly are having a blast playing Castor Troy and Sean Archer, and Woo also shot this beautifully, complete with his trademark slo-mo and of course, flying doves! Oh, I even love the music by John Powell, so all in all, a 90s classic!

Here are my mini reviews of the other two:

Fast Five

FastFivePosterWe’re in the mood for some action flick so my hubby and I picked Fast 5. We actually like Fast 6, which was the first of the franchise we actually saw. Ok so the plot is really not that different from the last movie, but really, I don’t think that matters here. Basically it’s an over-the-top heist movie against a Brazilian drug lord, whilst the team is also on the run from the Feds. I was expecting high-octane and ridiculous action sequences and that’s pretty much what I got… and then some!

Now, what I enjoyed most about these two movies so far are  1) the fun car chases that really got your movie adrenaline going, and 2) the unexpected familial bond between the main characters, Dom & Mia Toretto (Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster) and the former-cop-turned-conman Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). The song ‘We Are Family’ could’ve been playing in one of these movies (maybe it did?) as Dom treats the team like family, which I thought was pretty cool. Diesel is actually capable of being sympathetic and he actually has a lot of heart beneath that massive pecks and stony exterior. Just don’t expect any top notch acting in movies like this as you won’t find it anywhere. I love what The Guardian said about Walker, “…an actor with the emotional range of a blown carburetor” Ahah, I couldn’t say it better myself!

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Dwayne Johnson plays federal agent Hobbs who’s hot on the trail of Dom & co. It’s always fun to watch him and he’s certainly in good company with Diesel in terms of acting range, ahah. He’s got charisma to make up for it though 😉

I had a great time with this one, especially the third act involving a scene of two cars dragging a massive vault through the streets of Rio, wrecking everything – cars, patio restaurants, even a bank! – in its path. That’s even more absurdly entertaining than the scene early in the movie where the car Dom & Brian’s riding went off the cliff! Justin Lin sure knows how to stage action sequences and I think that’s the recipe of success for this franchise. Now, since I haven’t seen the franchise from the beginning before Lin took over, but seems that the franchise actually got better and more profitable. Fast 6 actually made over $200 mil, while this one made about $150 mil.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


RONIN

RoninPosterSo I ended up watching two Robert De Niro movies set in France but boy, the caliber couldn’t be more different. His role here almost made me forget the one in The Family, well almost.

Ronin is the Japanese word used for Samurai without a master. In this movie, a team of outcast specialists make up for the Ronins, hired to retrieve a mysterious suitcase wanted by the Irish and the Russians. It’s more of a cerebral thriller that’s not all about action, action, action. In fact, the long opening scene where almost nothing happens in a sleepy town in France is full of suspense! John Frankenheimer did a good job creating tension without always resorting to high-octane action. But of course, when the action scenes happen, especially the pulse-pounding car chases, it was incredible to watch!

So it’s also a weekend chock-full of car chases, but those in Ronin feels different than in the Fast & Furious movies, though they’re just as preposterous and of course, fun! I especially love it when the cars weave in and out of such narrow European streets and corners, it’s just a lot more breathtaking to watch! Per IMDb, more than 300 stunt drivers were employed to give the real-time chases scene an air of metal-crunching realism. Well it certainly worked beautifully. De Niro’s face looks like he’s constipated the whole time he’s driving, but that’s probably more realistic than the unruffled look of Natascha McElhone. It’s perhaps one of the best and most memorable car chase scenes ever filmed to date!

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The third act feels a bit like a buddy action flick as De Niro and Jean Reno worked together quite a bit. It’s fun watching both of them as they had a good chemistry. The supporting cast are excellent too, Stellan Skarsgård and Natascha McElhone are quite memorable here. Oh and for 007 fans out there, you might recognize that three of the actors here have played Bond villains: Sean Bean in GoldenEye, Michael Lonsdale in Moonraker and Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. Pryce is a lame villain here, but slightly better than his take of a Bond villain that’s neither intimidating nor charming. I like the look of the film with its muted colors and the setting itself certainly adds to the edgy mood of the film.


4 out of 5 reels

Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?