Sunday, May 26, 2013

Movie Review: Fast and Furious 6

I sometimes wonder why I go to these movies, and then I remember, it isn’t for the plot.  Fast and Furious is a series based on thieves that steal things and do so to maintain their high=speed life-styles.  The cars and men in the movies are really to die for.  The cars are enough to tune in for $7, but check any other expectations at the door.

In this latest instalment, Dom and co are roped into helping Hobbs (the Rock) into taking down an international thief.  Unsurprisingly, the crew is given a carte blanche to create mayhem and destruction in London as they discover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and working with above thief.  Without fail, the crew manage to save the day though they lose two of their crew that no one really remembers doing so.

Fast and Furious is a fun movie.  The cars in the movie are one reason to go, but the men in it are easy on the eyes as well.  The story is derivative and predictable.  I never felt very involved in the story and the characters are hardly more than archetypes that have been so worn down there’s little left.  The ending set up perfectly for a sequel.  I can’t be excited about it, but I’ve no doubt I’ll be in the theatre for FF7.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Movie Review: Pain and Gain

Stories based on true events are often tough to swallow.  Hollywood loves to truss up a story, make it into something it never was, make things funny when they weren’t.  While I may not know the original story that this was based on, I did read the news report posted online and was unsurprised to read that the people who had been kidnapped in the actual story were disgusted with the changes made.  I can’t imagine anyone being happy with a Hollywood comedy about a tragic event in their lives, but it is unsurprising.

The story follows an anti-hero named Lugo played by Mark Walberg.  Lugo is a personal trainer, working hard, wanting more from life, like many of us, no doubt.  After attending a self-help seminar, he realises he can’t continue doing what he’s doing.  Instead he sees one of his clients, Victor, has more than he deserves.  Lugo convinces two friends to help him with a ‘simple’ kidnapping scheme that will make them rich.  As expected, things go off the rails from the beginning.  The kidnapping is never executed well and it takes three tries before they finally acquire the target in any capacity.

The acting was superb, Dwayne Johnson, the Rock, may seem like a meat-head, but he stole practically every scene he was in.  Guest appearances from Rebel Wilson and Ken Jeong were perfect.  I feel like Mark Walberg has been playing the same two characters in every movie I’ve seen him in: the tortured, tough guy or the funny, buff guy.  While I have been impressed with his work, this one felt very forced.

The story ends as you might expect, but I found myself not feeling sympathetic for the tough guys, who were the main focus of the story, but the resiliency from the hateable victim Victor.  Tony Shaloub is absolutely detestable as Victor.  You hate him the moment you meet him, but truthfully, you should feel sorry for him.  This allusion may be poorly placed, but the movie reminded me of Cogan’s Way, the recent Brad Pitt movie Killing Them Softly.  The basis for that movie was about the American Way, getting what you want and working hard for it.

This movie cuts from the same cloth.  Lugo wants the American life, the one that is feasible in this country, but few others.  If you work hard, if you stay the course, you will be rewarded.  What Lugo forgets is that he isn’t working hard, he’s stealing.  Victor wins because he is dogged in his efforts, as he was on his way to success.  The crux of the story is if you cut corners, you won’t get to the finish line.  While we may not like it, despicable people are successful because they don’t give up, they don’t let someone beat them.  Victor was literally run over by a car, narrowly escaped being caught several times and managed to have his story taken seriously by one person, and that is all it takes.

Many reviewers felt this movie was vapid, but I found the moral hitting home.  I want to succeed, as we all do, and more like Victor than Lugo, I’m not cutting corners, putting in the time to be see the fruits of my labour.  If nothing else, the movie emboldened my focus, confirming that hard work does pay off.  Go forth and take that dream, no one will give it to you.