At the bedside of crisped brother Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), older, meaner Deckard (Jason Statham) vows revenge on the crew that turned his sibling into a pin cushion. The camera pulls back to reveal a high security hospital-turned-war zone and Statham slowly saunters past gunned-down guards, ravaged rooms and fizzling tech. The world pisses itself in the presence of Deckard – your appropriately chewy badass action movie baddie at the center of the latest Fast film. It’s a rightfully outrageous moment that aptly sums up Furious 7 in its complete and stupid glory; it’s so dumb, it’s so good. Read More


Out in Theaters: BRICK MANSIONS

A silver lining to Paul Walker‘s death: the world has been spared a Brick Mansion‘s sequel (2 Brick 2 Mansion?). This rat-faced nincompoop of an actioner begs for franchise play with hands outstretched like a Cambodian child with a nub for a leg, hawking tin whistles and salivating for a hot bowl of gruel. You pity it, look down on it, wish that someone out there in the world had the decency to clean it up, give it a good meal and place a little Grinch pat on its misshapen Cindy Lou Who head. If someone served up this movie to the Grinch, you better believe his heart would have shrunk three sizes. Had Brick Mansions been my sad, dilapidated child, I would have never let it leave the house dressed like such a drunken buffoon and whoever did was borderline abusive (to its unsuspecting audience most of all). Like the inhabitants of the eponymous Brick Mansions (a walled in ghetto distinct of Detroit), everyone involved in making this failing, flailing, faltering deuce of a movie must have been on mild to “Chase the dragons!” amounts of sweet black tar heroin.

Brick Mansions is a movie so discordantly dull, so mindlessly thickheaded, so enduringly tongue-tied that bounding from plot point to plot point is an exercise in parkour itself. From a French man, who is over and over again referred to as such, trying his (half-hearted) hardest at an American accent (WHY?!) to Wu Tang Clan’s finest actor, RZA, slicin’ and dicin’ up red pepper after red pepper (don’t ask), there’s just no amount of yarn to string together the many cacophonous plot elements. And RZA? Seriously?

From the performance to the character itself, RZA is everything wrong with the film. He enunciates through a mouthful of marbles, the well-manicured fine-point beard that is his face drooping like a guy hopped up on Vicodin and about seven bong rips deep. His “performance” is the equivalent of purple drank – it’s mind numbing and will fill you with regret. Watching him act is like being roofied. It’s supposed to hurt so good but leaves you clutching at your hind parts. How anyone keeps handing this guys roles is a mystery for the likes of the Twilight Zone.  

Co-star David Belle, as the incessantly dim but limber-legged Lino, is equally as interesting as a pet rock. For a man who all but invented parkour, Belle’s acting abilities couldn’t be more out of line with his impressive physical feats of physics-defying gymnastics. As he zips and flips off walls, crawlspaces, and rooftops, he’s like a firecracker in action. When he’s poised to spit out a line, he’s a man who trips over his shoelace at the report of a starting pistol. And even his “amazing” ventures of athletic prowess are edited down to footloose irrelevance.  

Parkour loses its “kour” – read: core, as in hardcore (*guitar solo*) – when it’s split up into millisecond by millisecond snippets. A sequence involving a guy who sprints off a building grabs a ladder, swings down that ladder and smashes through a window would look patently hardcore if captured in one fluid shot. Having said that, I would pay good money to see Alfonson Cuaron’s Brick Mansions. What we get instead is a sharp series of events shot from different angles, smashed together so haphazardly and so mindlessly that each piece of the puzzle looks rehearsed to death and wallpapered with safety nets. Anyone can edit a sequence together to achieve the unreal but few people can actually achieve the unreal. Camille Delamarre‘s hackneyed direction robs any and all thrills from what would be otherwise breathtaking entertainment of the simpleton variety, the likes of a daring YouTube video or a David Blane stunt.

Oh Jesus, we haven’t even gotten to the plot. Just imagine Fast and Furious snuck Dredd into a showing of Dances With Wolves. All the horrid cliches are there, waving their hands over their heads like fools, begging to be recognized and called on.

Roguish undercover cop playing fast and loose with government resources? Check. Misrepresented noble savage in the form of heroine-shooting ghetto dwellers? Check. Bringing only fists to a gun fight? Check. Oh, and unlikely duo. Double check!

We’re so many layers deep in the knock-off assembly line that Brick Mansions doesn’t mind stealing from ANOTHER FUCKING PAUL WALKER MOVIE – the original Fast and Furious, which in turn stole from Point Break which probably ripped off a caveman’s painting somewhere down the line. There’s so little to the plot developments that explaining it is just a waste of your time and mine. Just take my word when I say that after Brick Mansions, we’ve now witnessed one of the dumbest movies of the year.

See a flat-chested Russian brute fight two men leaping around like flying squirrels, a vaguely foreign woman chained to a ticking bomb that’s in turn hogtied to a USSR-era Russian nuke and car chases that sprout out of thin air … .because Paul Walker (*guitar solo*)!!! Also, acting on par with The Canyons.

Precariously balancing on Walker’s already not-so-gilded legacy, this is nothing short of an embarrassment for all involved. Brick is so recklessly conceived and shoddily written that by the end of it, it’s as if the writers entirely forgot what movie they were making in the first place. Plot resolutions are such an afterthought that pretty much everything wraps up with a shrug and a “Nah, JK!” In all its detestable glory, it’s a shining example of cocktail napkin scribbles gone horribly wrong, now complete with a happily ever after ending so flat and lifeless that you’ll be pining to watch a Rush Hour marathon in its stead.

It’s a ton of fun, if your idea of fun is wasting an hour and thirty minutes of your life. Brick tries out a few jokes here and there – mostly backflip-centered – but the real joke is on you for seeing the damn thing. This is a movie destined for the recycling bin, begging to be forgotten after it earns its keep, and crossing its fingers at Walker’s legacy equating to box office bucks. The sad reality is that the execs behind it are probably doing a smug little victory dance since this probably would have gone straight to Redbox if not for Walker’s early exit.


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Will FAST AND FURIOUS Franchise Live on After Paul Walker's Death?


While America tucked into bounties of turkey and stuffing and celebrated Thanksgiving with their families, this holiday weekend also brought the death of Fast and Furious franchise star Paul Walker. While not a celebrated star outside of the Fast and Furious world, Walker was the focal point of the F&F series and the lead character in a cast that includes Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, amongst many others. In a feat of super sad irony, Walker was driving with a friend in a limited edition 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, the stuff straight from the pages of Fast and Furious, when his vehicle spun out and hit a tree, causing it to burst into flames, killing Walker and the driver. Mirroring the events of the franchise, police are now tossing around the idea that the crash might have been the result of a drag race (CNN). And while many people bowed their head in respectful solace for Walker’s passing, fans of the franchise raced to Twitter to ponder the future of the franchise and whether the next film would go up in flames as well. The short answer: no.

The seventh installment of the massively popular franchise launched into production earlier this fall on a rushed production timeline. Horror auteur James Wan (The Conjuring) stepped in for long time franchise helmer Justin Lin, who directed Fast films since the third film, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Lin apparently departed the series because he believed Universal was rushing production to hit a July 11, 2014 release date. Now, it seems inevitable that that date will mosey even further into the future as “massive rewrites” will need to take place to account for Walker’s passing.

As for Fast 7, Wan has already shot many of the expensive action sequences with Walker but his role in the film was far from over. Taking into account the fact that few films shoot scenes chronologically, Walker now has scenes all over the film with gaping holes where some much needed plot exposition should go.

Productions have lost major players before. Take for example Heath Ledger who died after completing his work on The Dark Knight but was in the midst of Terry Gilliam‘s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. In order to band-aid the missing scenes, friends of Ledger, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell, stepped in to fill in his missing part. But obviously something that “worked” in a wacky Gilliam movie won’t fly for mainstream audiences in a summer tentpole film. Oliver Reed also famously passed away while filming Gladiator and his missing bits were filled in with CGI composites of his face but that’s an expensive project that cost ballpark two million dollars for mere moments in the film. We can also assume this isn’t the best tactic for F&F 7.

It seems the only option for the franchise at this point is to off Walker’s character. This however raises an issue of good taste. Is it respectful to his legacy and fair to his family to have to relive Walker’s death in a fun, family-friendly movie? Maybe not. But then again, Fast has always been about family. Maybe they’ll let Walker’s character walk into the sunset with his family. For now, production has been halted so the cast and crew can grieve while the writers try and hack out a solution to the whole Walker’s missing problem. Fast 7 will certainly go on, but it might be the last we see of the Toretto family.

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