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 😉



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!


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


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!


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?

50 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Fast Five & Ronin reviews

  1. I remember watching “Fast Five” when it first came on TV. I was baffled by the good reviews it got and I decided to see what the fuss was about w/ very low expectations. I hadn’t really been fond of the series as a whole. Yet, for some reason. This one worked. It was as if they had embraced the fact that it was ridiculous yet made it into an ensemble feature where everyone was having fun and it actually had a good story. I would see it again on TV several times and I enjoyed the hell out of it. My parents love this film. I’m thinking of revisiting the entire series to see if it needed some critical re-evaulation.

    1. Hi Steven! For a while I too was baffled at the franchise’s popularity. I never thought I’d actually like any of the movies, but Fast 6 was a blast so I thought I’d give this one a chance too. Yep it certainly embraces its ridiculousness, ahah.

  2. Ted S.

    Yeah I love this weather too, wish it’d be like this all year long. Unfortunately, in a few weeks, we’ll get snow and of course the freezing temps. Didn’t see anything new, just rented Star Trek: Into Darkness, I think I liked it less the second time around, still a fun movie but wow I thought the script was pretty sloppy.

    Fast Five is still my favorite in the franchise, you should watch the first one so you can finally see how it all got started, you can skip the second, third and fourth one, those were pretty bad. Lin actually took over the franchise in the third film and that one earned the least, I think it only made like $70mil at the box office. But somehow Universal decided to make another one and the fourth one made a ton of money and now of course we’re getting more Fast films since then.

    I actually didn’t care for Ronin when I saw it in theater but then I watched it again on DVD a couple of years later and thought it’s pretty damn great. It reminded me of 70s espionage films but with 90s action spectacle.

    1. Hi Ted! I haven’t rewatched STID since I saw it on the big screen. You’re right the script is not the best but I probably liked it because of Benedict Cumberbatch 😀

      I don’t know if I want to watch another FF movie, but maybe the first one at some point. Fast Five might end up being my fave too.

      I actually think Ronin might be fun to watch on the big screen, esp. those car chases, wow! Yeah, Hollywood should make more cerebral spy thrillers!

      1. Ted S.

        The first Fast & Furious was basically a ripoff of Point Break, instead of surfers they substituted with these car racers. And Paul Walker’s playing the Johnny Utah and Vin was Bodhi.

        Yeah it was cool seeing the big car chases on the big screen but I was like 20 or 21 years old when the film came out, I didn’t appreciate what they were trying to do with the plot. A few years later, I decided to give it another shot and really liked it.

        1. Ahah, a rip-off of Point Break?? I gotta watch it just for that reason then 😉 Eh, Paul Walker is such a lame replacement for Keanu Reeves! Oh no, the plot isn’t something to appreciate here, why do you think they have so many car chases, ahah.

  3. “De Niro’s face looks like he’s constipated the whole time he’s driving” Haha! Very well observed Ruth. It’s been a while since I seen DeNiro’s constipated face in this one so I think a rewatch is in order. I remember not really liking the film, though.

    1. Ahah, well it does! I kept laughing the whole time but hey we probably would look funny too when we’re THAT tense driving like a maniac. Oh no, you didn’t like the film? Even w/ Bobby D?? 😀

  4. Had a good weekend, although I did not watch that many movies. Only rewatched Mr.Nobody for my 4th entry for the 5 Obstructions blogathon and as that is in my top 3 of all time favorite movies it was nice revisiting it. I also found out that it is really hard to write a long review (I’m still 500 words short ;))

    You saw some awesome movies. Your description of Ronin really makes me want to rewatch that movie…have not seen it in ages!

    1. Hi Nostra! Sorry I haven’t been able to participate in your 5 Obstruction Blogathon, there’s just too much going on the past few months.

      Yeah, it ends up being a GOOD weekend for movie-watching. If you haven’t seen Face/Off I highly recommend that too!

  5. The Man in the Iron Mask is one of my guilty pleasures, too. I can’t get enough of Irons and Dicaprio. I love how every transition shot is a cluster of men on horses clomping down the cobbled street. 😉

    1. Hi Cindy!! I love it, we do have similar taste! I actually can’t get enough of Irons and Byrne in that film, the three musketeers + d’Artagnan are so awesome!

  6. Nice weekend. Glad to hear about the weather cooling don a bit 🙂 I’m waiting for that to happen over here! And yes, Patrick Wilson is the new king of horror.

    This weekend I watched Before Midnight and Blancanieves.

    1. How hot is it in Tijuana now? You guys are always around 70s and 80s right? I don’t mind 70s but 80s is too hot for me. Ahah, I’d never thought Wilson would be the new king of horror!

      Are you gonna review Blancanieves?

        1. I think we’re done w/ 90s this year, at least I hope so! That’s just unbearable. I don’t know how I could stand it for 18 yrs living in Jakarta before, ahah.

          Looking fwd to your review Fernando!

            1. Ahah, I’m glad I’m not the only one then! I know some ppl think it’s funny that as someone born in a tropical country can’t stand heat and humidity, but yeah like you said, you can always bundle up in the cold but you can’t peel your skin off when it’s unbearably hot!

  7. Fast Five! I really didn’t care anything about this series until I saw Fast Five. Talk about loads of fun and a complete surprise. This year’s installment wasn’t quite as good but it was still fun. And this year’s big post scene surprise… WOW!!!

    1. So you saw the previous movies? I didn’t care to see it until Fast 6, but now I just might give the first one a shot, ahah. I’m not exactly fond of the actor playing the villain for Fast 7 but I guess he sure knows how to drive like a maniac, ahah.

  8. Victor De Leon

    Ronin Rules, Ruth! Nice review. Giving the old gents, Reno and De Niro some props! I dig that. The rest of the cast is amazing, too. Oh and I watched World War Z and John Carpenter’s The Fog this weekend. I also tried to fit in City Lights with Chaplin but I am waiting for my Criterion blu ray to watch it. Great post!

    1. Hi Victor! Glad I finally caught Ronin. Reno and De Niro are two of my fave characters in it, so naturally! I still haven’t seen WWZ, really want to do that as soon as it’s available to rent on iTunes. Right now it’s still about $15 bucks to rent it!

      1. Victor De Leon

        Wow, $15 bucks? Gee, I saw the blu ray for 13 bucks at my local video game store. Yeesh. Oh and Ronin is probably the one De Niro film (Aside from Goodfellas) that I revisit often. There is quite a lot to like in that movie. Especially the cast and story.

        1. I know! It’s nuts, why’d they think ANYONE would be willing to pay that much to rent it. Oh I still need to see Goodfellas! It’s one of those classics I’ve missed out on. Thanks Vic!

  9. Hi there, Ruth! It was fun to read your take on RONIN, easily one of my favorite action thrillers, with a great cast, great car chases, great locations, a good twisty plot and a nice sense of European melancholy.

    I’ve got a soft spot for THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK as well, for the same reasons you wrote about. I’m not sold on DiCaprio in that film, but the 4 Musketeer heroes are all highly enjoyable and the ending is indeed moving. Not a perfect film by any means – it needs more action for one thing – but an enjoyable one.

    1. Hi Jeff! Wow, you pretty much summed up the movie a lot more efficiently than I did, ahah.

      Yay! Finally someone who loves The Man in the Iron Mask too. Yes, the four older actors are so great here. That finale is rousing and emotional, the music is just perfect for it, too!

  10. Ronin, Fast Five, and Face Off….. action movies I wouldn’t mind seeing again myself! Haven’t watched The Family yet but do plan to do so despite the bad review. De Niro must be really broke, he’s been in too many bad movies that people might forget what a legend he is.

    1. Yes very true! I actually saw Ronin thinking it’d erase my memory of De Niro in The Family, ahah. Well it almost worked.

      Yeah The Rock is always fun to watch!

  11. Personally, I’m a huge fan of F&F5, I think it’s the best of the series (to date) and that vault/chase sequence is an absolute cracker. It just goes on, and on, and on, and only gets more and more obscene and crazy as it goes.

    1. I haven’t seen all of the F&F movies but I could see liking Fast 5 the most. Yeah, that vault scene is ridiculously spectacular, ahah. But hey, that’s what you watch a Fast & Furious movie for!!

    1. So do you think the first one is ok Chris? I actually went backward from the last one, but I think I’ll skip 2, 3 and 4 and just go from 5 to 1, ahah.

      Oh you must see Face/Off! It’s a 90s classic! It’s preposterous but a ton of fun!

      1. Yeah the first one wasn’t bad but from what I’ve seen, it’s not quite as mental as the later ones. It’s more about street racing from what I remember.

        Face/Off has been on my watch list for quite some time, I just keep putting it off!

  12. LOL! “oh-so-lame Raoul”…I actually remember that. I’d so go for the Phantom. At least he was a music genius.
    Love the Fast series..except for 2&3. Those were a bit hard to watch. Fast 4 really picked up and was awesome till now. As much as Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson (*shutters* I prefer saying The Rock) aren’t great actors, I do like them on screen. Guilty pleasure, perhaps!
    Awesome post 🙂

    1. Hello Kim! Why of course, the Phantom is so darn sexy even with just half his face! Even when his deformed side is revealed I’d still take him over Raoul, ahah.

      Ahah, Dwayne just doesn’t seem to fit him does it? I prefer The Rock too. I probably will skip 2, 3 and 4 of the FF series 😀

  13. Oh, I love Autumn weather as well. 🙂 Great reviews, Ruth. I liked Fast Five, but I still need to see Ronin.

    I watched several films from 1936 this weekend, including Sabotage, A Day in the Country, and A Tale of Two Cities (loved all 3).

  14. Pingback: Movie Review – Superfast! |

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