The original Fast & Furious was a great drive-in flick, and its tale of likable but criminally-inclined street racers doing a good job of outrunning the law has now spawned its fifth sequel. The latter movies have retained the fun factor of the original but become increasingly grandiose — the last one involved a $100-million heist from a Brazilian drug lord — and F&F6 sets a new standard for wacky plotting and preposterous stunts.
In this outing, longtime FBI nemesis Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) offers Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and all the crew full pardons if they help him take down an ex-military super-soldier named Shaw who has become a rogue villain specializing in “vehicular warfare.” His current target is technology that, in the wrong hands, can be made into a new type of bomb that can paralyze computer-based defences and communications – thus leaving an entire country utterly vulnerable to military attack. Adding to the angst, Dom’s true love (Michelle Rodriguez), once thought to be dead, seems to have joined forces with the nefarious Shaw.
And so the plot roars along, alternating between cheesy and electrifying. On the down side, the banter amongst Dom’s crew is right out of some bad film school’s course in Macho Dialogue 101, while the attempts to establish emotional resonance are tediously sentimental. But then come all those man-musk squirts of adrenaline in the form of chase and battle scenes, ranging from drag racing through the streets of nighttime London to army tank-versus-hot rod action on the highways of Spain. And the elaborately staged climax — where Dom’s crew is pitted against a massive Russian transport plane that is roaring down the runway trying to achieve liftoff — merits applause for its silly bravado.
Although far too ludicrous to be taken seriously, F&F6 is nonetheless a worthy Hollywood hot rod, one customized with high-octane special effects, insane stunts, whiplash editing, and shockingly brutal girl-on-girl fights. It’s righteously silly fun, as grandpa used to say. M
Fast & Furious 6 ★★½
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
PG 13 – 130 minutes • Continues at The Odeon,
SilverCity and WestShore
Speaking of Spain, let’s raise a glass to the 2008 Castillo de Almansa, an earthy, rustic-style charmer with dark-berry fruit and hints of spice and oak. Although fine for sipping on its own, like a lot of Old World wines this complex red blend is best with food – maybe barbecued sausages or olives with Manchego cheese. Well priced at $13.
AFTER EARTH -(Empire 6/Westshore/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4) Will Smith stars with son Jaden in a sci-fi thriller about intergalactic travellers who crashland on Earth 1,000 years after it became uninhabitable. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starts Fri.
NOW YOU SEE ME -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The FBI and Interpol combine forces to battle a clever crew of Las Vegas illusionists who are doing a very real job of robbing banks . . . while simultaneously performing for a casino audience. The great cast includes Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Caine and Woody Harrelson. Starts Fri.
★★ THE BIG WEDDING -(Caprice) A long-divorced couple (Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton) pretend to still be married when their extended family meets for a huge wedding. This vulgar and often mean-spirited comedy wastes the talents of all concerned, including Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Susan Sarandon.
★★★ THE COMPANY YOU KEEP -(Odeon) Robert Redford directs himself in a thoughtful if occasionally talky drama about a former Weather Underground ’70s radical still wanted by the FBI who goes on the run after a journalist discovers his secret past. Co-starring Julie Christie, Brendan Gleeson, Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon.
THE CROODS -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore) A prehistoric family taking an unexpected “road trip” into a magical land is the plot of this whimsical animated charmer (which has been getting great reviews). With the vocal talents of Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, and Ryan Reynolds.
EPIC -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore/Empire Uni 4) In this animated family adventure a teenage girl is magically transported to a deep forest setting where she bands together with a wacky crew of critters to help battle a terrifyingly dark force that is threatening their world . . . and ours.
ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH -(Caprice) This animated adventure tale features a brave astronaut in peril because of inter-galactic bad guys. With the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Jessica Sarah Parker, and Jessica Alba.
★★½ FAST & FURIOUS 6 -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The high-octane series continues, this time with Dom’s crew asked to take down an ex-Special Ops soldier who has morphed into a super-criminal specializing in vehicular warfare. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker. See review.
★★½ THE GREAT GATSBY -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Caprice) Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge) directs a lavish, over-the-top but decidedly uninvolving screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic Jazz Age novel about a glamorous and mysterious millionaire on Long Island. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan. Note: opens Friday at the Caprice.
THE HANGOVER PART III -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore) All those bad boys from the Wolfpack are reunited for a final return to Vegas. As if anything could go wrong. . . . With Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. By all accounts, this one is well worth avoiding.
★½ IDENTITY THIEF -(Caprice) The considerable talents of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) are wasted in this witless and often mean-spirited would-be comedy about a mild-mannered businessman who makes the grave mistake of tracking down the seemingly gentle woman who has stolen his identity.
★★★ IRON MAN 3 -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore) An emotionally unbalanced Iron Man (Robert Downey) goes up against the terrifying Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), one of the more intriguing megalomaniacs of recent years. Despite being a step down from the original — and a bit long-winded and bombastic — this is an imaginative, humorous and fast-paced thrill ride. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce.
★★★ KON‐TIKI -(Odeon) Fascinating albeit superficial, this Oscar-nominated adventure recreates the legendary 1947 voyage of Thor Heyerdal, who crossed 4,700 miles of Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft in order to prove that it would have been possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.
★★★½ MUD -(Odeon/Empire Uni 4) The once-mocked Matthew McConaughey has latterly begun making interesting films, such as this fable-like drama about a fugitive on the run who meets up with two teenage boys who vow to help him reunite with his true love. Imagine a combination of Stand By Me and Beasts of the Southern Wild. With Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon. Note: opens at the Empire 4 on Friday.
★★½ OBLIVION -(Caprice) Tom Cruise stars in a visually stylish but rather dull and derivative sci-fi thriller about a man who returns to a ruined Earth to extract its remaining resources when strange things start to happen and he begins to question his mission and himself.
★★½ OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL -(Caprice) Sam Raimi directs an extravagant rendering of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novel, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, about a small-time magician (James Franco) who ends up in a fantastical land where he can achieve true greatness if he becomes a hero by battling a terrible witch. Basically, there are too many special effects and not enough heart. With Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.
★★½ PAIN & GAIN -(Caprice) Three Florida body builders come up with a really dumb idea involving a kidapping scheme that, no surprise, goes terribly wrong. Based on real events, this sadistic and very violent black comedy is directed by Michael Bay, but feels more like an indie film that draws clumsy inspiration from Scorsese and Tarantino. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Ed Harris.
★★★ THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES -(Roxy) The new drama from the director of Blue Valentine stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, and Bradley Cooper in an overly ambitious tale with three intersecting storylines and an overarching theme about father-son relationships. This is far too long, but it has strong performances.
★★★ QUARTET -(Roxy) Dustin Hoffman turns in his directorial debut with this droll and heartfelt comedy about a retirement home for classical musicians where the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of a diva’s diva (Maggie Smith). The great cast includes Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins.
★★★½ STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4/Westshore) J.J. Abrams retains the helm of the rebooted Star Trek franchise with this entertaining and engaging tale about a youthful Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) tackling a seemingly unstoppable one-man weapon of mass destruction. With Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, and a sinister Benedict Cumberbatch.
★★★★ STILL MINE -(Odeon) Themes of aging are engagingly dramatized in this heartfelt true-life story about an 89-year-old New Brunswick farmer who ends up having to fight both a city hall bureaucrat and his wife’s debilitating illness. With fantastic performances by James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold.
★★ G.I. JOE: RETALIATION -(Caprice)
FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES -(10 am, noon, 3 pm, 6 pm Note: no Flight on Fri., May 31 at 10 am)
HUBBLE -(Fri., May 31, 10 am only)
THE LAST REEF -(1 pm)
★★★½ MYSTERIES OF THE GREAT LAKES -(4 pm)
★★½ OBLIVION -(7 pm)
★★★½ SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE -(11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm)
music wednesday -is screening Inclusion, a documentary about a professional group of taiko drummers in Nagasaki — the hook is that that the performers are all developmentally disabled. 7:00 WEDNESDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
MOVIE MONDAY – Presenting A Late Quartet. A great cast that includes Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman animates this drama about a world-renowned string quartet suddenly experiencing seismic shocks of illness, ego, and uncontrollable passion. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
JEWISH MOVIE NIGHT -screens Visa al Paraiso (Visa to Paradise), a documentary exploring the brave humanism of Gilberto Bosques, the Mexican Consul General in France from 1939-’42 who was imprisoned after issuing nearly 45,000 exit visas to potential victims of Nazi persecution. The filmmaker will be in attendance. SATURDAY, 7 pm, Jewish Community Centre, 3636 Shelbourne Street.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
VELCROW RIPPER’S OCCUPY LOVE -(Wed., May 29: 7:15, 9:00) Outside-the-system documentary filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred, Fierce Light) explores the reality and transformative potential of the Occupy Movement and its various offshoots.
★★★½ NO -(Thurs.-Sat., May 30-June 1: 7:00, 9:20) Oscar nominated and a big hit at this year’s Victoria Film Fest, this is a fact-based account of a young, hipster ad man in Chile who came up with a cheeky, seemingly apolitical campaign for the plebescite that cost dictator Augusto Pinochet his presidency in 1990. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
★★½ OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL -(Sun.-Mon., June 2-3: 6:45, 9:10) Sam Raimi directs an extravagant rendering of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novel, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, about a small-time magician (James Franco) who ends up in a fantastical land where he can achieve true greatness if he becomes a hero by battling a terrible witch. Basically, there are too many special effects and not enough heart. With Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.
A ROYAL AFFAIR -(Tues., June 4: 7:00, 9:35) Oscar-nominated, this lush historical drama from Denmark tells the true-life story of an 18th century royal love triangle that occurred when the queen found the court doctor (Mads Mikkelsen) infinitely more attractive than her daft husband (who just happened to be king). Back by popular demand!
UPSTREAM COLOR -(Wed.-Thurs., June 5-6: 7:00, 9:00) This indie “mind bender” is part sci-fi and part romantic thriller as it tells a story of a strange drug that allows an unscrupulous man to take advantage of people in terrible ways.