Falco follows nurse Jackie Peyton, who works in a hospital in New York and struggles with personal problems. Other stars on the show include “Twilight” actor Peter Facinelli and Merritt Wever.
“’Nurse Jackie' is an essential part of the Showtime brand, and we are thrilled with the series' growth in its fifth season," president of entertainment for Showtime David Nevins said in a statement. "Under the new leadership of Clyde Phillips, and with an amazing cast led by Edie Falco, this show is as sharp and compelling and entertaining as ever. I'm excited to get to see the next chapter in Jackie's life.”
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As noted by Nevins, the show came under new command after its fourth season when Clyde Phillips became the showrunner, taking over for show creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem. In an interview with Deadline, Wallem said traveling between Los Angeles and New York, the show’s setting, had been challenging.
“This has been the best job of my life, but the travel, having to spend six months [in L.A.] and six months [in N.Y.] and be away from home, took a toll on me,” she said.
Before the show began, Brixius said she wanted to show how important nurses are in a hospital.
“Every medical show out there has been about doctors,” Brixius told the New York Daily News. “Doctors are absolutely unable to do what they have to do without nurses. We want to tell those stories.”
Falco has been nominated twice for an Emmy and won in 2010 for her role on the show, adding to the three Emmy statuettes she earned playing Mob wife Carmela Soprano on the HBO drama “The Sopranos.” She has also been nominated twice for a Golden Globe for her work on “Nurse Jackie.”
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In The Purge we witness an imminent future (the year 2020) in which America has created a new system for controlling crime, violence and poverty. Known as the annual “Purge,” the ‘new founding fathers’ declare that for one day every year, all crime is legal while emergency and law enforcement services are shut down for a span of twelve hours.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a top salesman at a security systems firm, who lives with his wife Mary (Lena Headey), daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and gifted son Charlie (Max Burkholder) in a wealthy gated community, whose pristine streets are spared from the annual night of savagery. Things go horribly wrong when sympathetic Charlie allows a wounded man (Edwin Hodge) to take refuge in the Sandin’s home, thereby attracting a posse of murderous upper-crust socialites, who demand the Sandins return the group’s lost quarry… or face brutal consequences.
The Purge is basically Shirley Jackson’s seminal horror story “The Lottery” refashioned as a quasi-philosophical, B-movie horror/thriller. Whenever the film is delving into philosophical quandary and social commentary, it is often an excellent piece of work; unfortunately, that excellence is dragged down by silly horror movie cliches and some lackluster characters. Overall, though, the movie is a tightly-paced and effective thrill-ride experience.
James DeMonaco both wrote and directed the The Purge. While his director credits are short (this film and an indie flick called Little New York), his writing resume includes such memorable (but still B-movie-level) thrillers like The Negotiator and the 2005 Assault on Precinct 13 remake, which also starred Ethan Hawke. Like those aforementioned films, The Purge is a very tightly-paced and well-staged thriller, and DeMonaco (along with veteran cinematographer Jacques Jouffret) manages to turn the single-setting into a proper horror movie set piece. In general, the entire movie is surprisingly well-crafted and creates a definite atmosphere of second-to-second tension, with a few good horror scares and thrilling action sequences, to boot.
On the script side of things, DeMonaco is clearly borrowing from Jackson’s story of complacency and tradition run amok, but he puts what he borrows to pretty good use in terms of crafting an interesting premise which engenders a simple but deliciously twisted spin on the survival-horror sub-genre. The most unnerving thing about The Purge is that the concept creates a sort of ‘Body Snatchers-type fear; no one can be sure how anyone around them is going to react, given the opportunity for violence, which keeps things uncertain and edgy.
DeMonaco’s tale, while often obvious and heavy-handed (but subtly brilliant at other times), is nonetheless a piercing head-trip in terms of core themes. In fact, watching it in theaters – watching audiences howling and cheering for gruesome violence – is enough to fill your head with dread about who your neighbor in the next seat truly is – or at least would be, given an opportunity to “purge themselves.” There is definitely something unnervingly relevant and timely about The Purge and its commentary on our collective (and respective) psychology – just as Jackson’s ”Lottery” still has frightening resonation more than sixty years later. For those concerned: The Purge is not so much political as philosophical, and - given its approach to the subject matter – is generally one of the better horror/thriller concepts to come along in awhile.
Now for the rub…
Married to this intriguing premise and timely commentary is a schlocky horror flick, filled with big logical gaps and a few hollow characters who only exist to serve the film’s manic plotline. While Ethan Hawke (Sinister) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) are both top-notch in their respective roles as Mr. & Mrs. Sandin, their children – played by Parenthood star Max Burkholder and Power Rangers R.P.M. star Adelaide Kane – are (in no uncertain terms) poorly-drawn horror movie cliches.
Young Charlie and teenage Zoey are literally walking MacGuffins who flit in and out of the shadows at different points (according to some vague narrative logic) solely to force the adult characters (and the audience) to constantly seek some new objective in the house or examine their morals – all while the threat of danger to the Sandin brood keeps things on the razor’s edge of tension. Burkholder does as well as he can with his part, but Kane’s acting, like her character, sinks deep into annoying caricature territory.
On the other hand, we are given some better characters in the form of our “villains,” a roving band of elitist psychos in smiley face masks (why complicate things with names?). Their leader (credited as “Polite Stranger” and played by Rhys Wakefield) is a pretty freaky guy, who does about as well as one can with his on-the-nose monologes about society’s “proper order” and such. Edwin Hodge (Cougar Town) is equally good as the “Bloody Stranger” the Sandins take in, keeping his nature vague but interesting enough to pull off one of the film’s better arcs. The third act pushes things (and a few of the actors in the ensemble) into a campy realm of melodrama, before settling into what is either one of the most brilliantly witty or awkwardly terrible conclusions to a horror/thriller film that I’ve seen.
Despiste ending on a strange note, and containing some cliched horror movie characters and tropes, The Purge is an easily commendable film to those who like the short, sweet, and cathartic violent enjoyment of a solid thriller – and/or those who enjoy entertaining movies that also leave you with something to think about. Those looking for a good horror movie might not get the “scares” they want – but tension they will enjoy in earnest, along with a few good laughs at those “I’m going in the basement alone” moments in the script. All in all, a solid bit of work from Mr. DeMonaco.
…Whom we should all thank when real-life “Purge Clubs” start showing up in neighborhoods nationwide.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Ever since The Hangover became one of the biggest hits of 2009, Bradley Cooper has remained just on the outskirts of becoming a bankable leading man. Supporting turns in ensemble comedies like He’s Just Not That into You and Valentine’s Day in turn led to leads in films like Limitless and The Words.
Cooper’s Academy Award nomination for Silver Linings Playbook, however, could be just the career boost the actor needs to establish himself as a genuine performer and not simply People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2011. To that end, Cooper has just joined a project which aims to demonstrate his willingness to take on more challenging material.
According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to Dark Invasion, an upcoming book by Howard Blum, for Cooper to star in and produce. The non-fiction book chronicles a series of 1915 attacks by Germany designed to prevent the U.S. from assisting the Allies during World War I. Cooper would play Tom Tunney, the NYPD captain who must take down the German spies responsible. The book claims that Tunney was considered to be the CIA’s first head of homeland security.The true-to-life tale – which sounds like it would hue close in tone to something like Zero Dark Thirty – would prove a change of pace from Cooper’s usual fare. However, this is precisely why this project is such a smart move. Cooper has previously tried to take on edgier roles, but his involvement in both The Crow remake and Alex Proyas’ now-defunct Paradise Lost adaptation failed to pan out.
Thus far, Cooper is largely known for his comedic chops, but taking on a project like Dark Invasion – as well as his upcoming role in period drama Serena (alongside Silver Linings Playbook co-star Jennifer Lawrence) – could go a long way to help audiences accept him as a more well-rounded screen presence.
Do you think Cooper is right for this kind of role? Or should he stick to comedies, for the most part? Let us know in the comments.
Robert Yaniz Jr. blogs at Screen Rant.
It’s the unfortunate day that Doctor Who fans knew would eventually come: After 4 years as the Doctor, Matt Smith announced that he will be leaving Doctor Who after the 2013 Christmas Special, in which the Eleventh will fall and Twelfth will be revealed.
Both Smith and Moffat released a letter about the departure, filled with kind words about the series as well as a few hints at what’s to come. Even though he has announced his departure, Smith still has two new adventures coming up, including the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special in November.
You can read Smith’s letter to below:
Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realize all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.
Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.
The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!
It’s been an honor to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.
Smith, who never really watched Doctor Who before taking the role, took on the task of replacing David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, an act many thought would be difficult, if not impossible. Yet after Smith’s first episode aired, the concern of many fans subsided as everyone knew that Moffat had chosen well, and that Smith would go on to become a great Doctor. And that’s exactly what happened – and the series grew, too, because of it.
But as this is Doctor Who, it’s time for the TARDIS to be passed on to a new (or old but new) Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor (who is unlikely to be ginger). In Smith’s statement, he hinted at the return to Trenzalore; in Moffat’s statement, the series showrunner makes one thing absolutely clear: he’s going to make you cry on Christmas.
You can read Moffat’s letter below:
Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behavior was always worthy of the Doctor.
But great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that’s still so exciting!
Though some fans may still be a bit upset at Moffat about the way in which Doctor Who season 7 was handled, he still knows and loves the series as much as the fans – so if the Doctor needs to regenerate, the quality story will most certainly meet the occasion.
And even though the departure of Matt Smith is sad, the final paragraph of Moffat’s letter sums it up best: “Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again!”
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.
The Writers Guild of America chose the HBO series “The Sopranos” as the best-written television series ever, the WGA announced on Sunday.
The guild had selected a list of what it considered the 101 best-written TV shows of all time. “Seinfeld,” the NBC sitcom often called the show “about nothing,” earned the number two spot on the WGA list. Meanwhile, the show that earned the highest spot on the list which is currently still on television was AMC’s “Mad Men.”
Numbers three, four, and five on the list went to “The Twilight Zone,” “All in the Family,” and “M*A*S*H,” respectively.
“At their core, all of these wonderful series began with the words of the writers who created them and were sustained by the writers who joined their staffs or worked on individual episodes," Chris Keyser, who is president of the Writers Guild of America West, and Michael Winship, who is president of the Writers Guild of America East, said in a joint statement. "This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft.”
“The Sopranos” was the newest show in the top five, having debuted in 1999, while “Zone” was the oldest, having hit the air in 1959.
“Sopranos” followed mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who lived in New Jersey with his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and tries to succeed at his job while also keeping his family happy.
The rest of the top ten list included “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which came in at number six, as well as “Mad Men,” which took the number seven spot. “Cheers,” “The Wire,” and “The West Wing” came in at numbers eight, nine, and 10, respectively.
The rankings were determined by voting by WGA members which took place online.
One of the more intriguing aspects of Game of Thrones season 3 has been the emergence of unseen depth in characters who, in seasons past, have largely been understood to possess a singular, mostly villainous quality about them.
Take for example Jaime Lannister, a man who pushed a young boy out of a tower to protect the second worst kept secret in all of Westeros, has become an individual not only capable of garnering compassion from the audience, but is seemingly deserving of it as well. And while Tyrion has always been the Lannister with whom the audience typically sided, his sister hasn’t faired too well in the court of public opinion (or Mother’s Day list posts). But after witnessing the siblings’ interactions with their father (especially when asking for a favor or, say, the keys to Casterly Rock), we have been given new insight into what makes these Lannister’s tick. It may not have brought Jaime-like levels of empathy, but it certainly granted a clearer understanding.
This may seem a digressive point to make concerning an episode that doesn’t even feature a Lannister, but it serves to highlight the series’ extraordinary ability to rework preconceived notions about story and character (especially within the confines of a particular genre), and to remain unpredictable and daring through its willingness to break down walls of convention and break the hearts of its fans. It’s not rare for the “hero” to sometimes lose. In fiction, setbacks build character. But as seen here, this is no mere hindrance; it is the complete destruction of Robb Stark, and with him the dream of a new and possibly better kingdom. But it’s also the unmistakable end to a journey that, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a major portion of the series’ overall narrative.
It is said that history is written by the victors, which, if true for Game of Thrones, means that the history of Westeros will largely be written by the Lannisters, as the events of this episode strike a massive (and likely decisive) blow against uprising in the North, and certainly quell any thoughts of beating the Lannisters at their own game. While ‘Blackwater’ was all about a Lannister victory in the face of an overwhelming force, through a combination of gutsy resolve (setting fire to Blackwater) and an 11th hour alliance that saw the Tyrells of Highgarden invited to take a seat in King’s Landing, tonight’s victory – known to many as the ‘Red Wedding’ – presents yet another Lannister triumph, but from a very different perspective, and with a very different outcome.
‘Blackwater‘ defined the family as untiring in their defense of the Iron Throne, and Stannis Baratheon as presumptuous in his belief it could easily be won. This occasion, however, will mark the Lannisters as ruthless and cunning, while the Starks are once more seen as recklessly beholden to apparently outmoded constructs like principle and tradition – basically the kind of thinking that got Eddard Stark killed. And while the disparate creeds of the Starks and the Lannisters perfectly mirror the discussion had by Varys and Littlefinger – regarding the larger concept of the ‘realm’ – the events that conclude Edmure Tully’s wedding speak largely to Littlefinger’s theory that chaos is indeed the rule of the day.
Unlike ‘Blackwater,’ however, ‘The Rains of Castamere’ isn’t entirely focused on a single story, which helps to make its final moments all the more shocking for those viewers unfamiliar with the storyline and unaware that yet another Stark casualty would be used as a focal point to end a season. The other storylines, though, certainly do not share the finality of Robb, Talisa and Cat’s portion of the episode, which offsets things a little.
Seeing how the world of Game of Thrones works is one the most fascinating aspects of the series, and Dany’s interference with an economy that runs entirely on slave labor (thanks to Daario Naharis, Grey Worm and Ser Jorah) has so far yielded some interesting results, which help to make her storyline lively despite being so far from the rest of the narrative.
Elsewhere, Jon Snow comes within yards of being reunited with Bran and Rickon, but after refusing to kill an innocent man, he’s set upon by the wildlings and is forced to kill Orell and flee from a very perturbed Ygritte. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Jon, his life was saved in part by Bran’s warging of the direwolves – which Bran can apparently do at will and to humans now, as seen by his calming of a panicked Hodor.
Season 3 has been a thin storyline for many of the Starks – Sansa and Arya being the two with the meatiest storylines, and even those were scant in comparison to the Lannisters’ arcs – but this feels in keeping with the best and worst aspects of what Game of Thrones has to offer. Stories like Bran and Rickon’s, and, also, Robb’s, can sometimes feel as though they’re slogging through the mud, going nowhere fast and taking time away from more interesting and compelling stories that are happening in the present. But the series excels at planning and illustrating the importance of things to come. Unless of course, as was the case of Robb Stark, his wife and his mother, the surprise is that the end was the only thing coming.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
It’s been two seasons since Charlie Sheen’s Charlie Harper character left Two and a Half Men, and while the show has effectively moved on – plugging Ashton Kutcher into the lead role while continuing to perform in the ratings – Chuck Lorre and company now find themselves in a somewhat familiar situation with Angus T. Jones leaving the show, or at least, lessening his presence.
So, what’s a 10 year old sitcom to do when it loses another one of its three original stars? Well, first they thank their stars that Jon Cryer is as durable as a cockroach in a nuclear war and immune to the allure of a viral video breakdown, and then they go on the lookout for a new cast member – a female cast member who will play Charlie Harper’s grown up secret-sin-baby.
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So, which actress will get this plum gig? Unfortunately, we have no idea right now, but with regard to her origins, Deadline reports that:
The girl, in her late teens or early 20s, shows up on Walden Schmidt’s (Ashton Kutcher) doorstep searching for her father. She claims to be a daughter of the house’s previous owner, recently departed perennial bachelor Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen). I hear the girl will eventually move in with Walden and her uncle Alan Harper (Jon Cryer).
With Charlie Harper’s penchant for carousing, this development can’t come as a huge surprise. The show even played around with this scenario in the season 6 premiere, “Taterhead is our Love Child” when Rena Sofer appeared as one of Charlie’s many, many ex-flames, brandishing an 8 year old to try and get money out of Harper. This time, though, the writers are obviously choosing to commit a bit more, but the question is, how will they do it?
Will she act like or be made to resemble Charlie Sheen’s character? Is she going to court Walden and/or lovingly pick on Alan? How about this: now that there are two guys and a girl, are we destined to see a Pizza Place? Maybe there will be no real change at all and the successful status-quo will remain.
Sadly, we won’t know the answer to these questions until next season, but it’s fun to speculate and wonder in which ways this new character will be utilized to try and kickstart a show that may or not need it.
Jason Tabrys blogs at Screen Rant.
A pair of dueling Netflix executives helped to both shatter and then revive hope that the upcoming 15-episode revival of Arrested Development could be more than a one and done proposition, but now Netflix Content Chief Ted Sarandos seems to be providing even more clarity about the future for Arrested Development and the streaming giant.
In an interview with THR, Sarandos indicated that the ground was fertile for more Bluth family fun and another season from the formerly cancelled cult comedy, though he also cautioned that such an undertaking could be as difficult as the first go-around due to the cast and crew’s busy schedule.
“We would love to do more, and we have a deal in place that says that there could be. The problem is logistics. They were all working full-time and doing this show in between, and they did it for the love of the show and for Mitch Hurwitz. If we can muster up that love again, we’d love to do it again.”
What a fifth season of Arrested Development would mean for the long rumored film project remains to be seen, though Sarandos also indicated that Netflix might be interested in an Arrested Development film, saying that they had “openly talked about” a “movie scenario”.
While placing an Arrested film with Netflix would likely mean that either producers failed to find a better deal for a more traditional release – not out of the realm of possibility considering the fact that the project never really got beyond the discussion phase previously – or that Netflix simply blew away the competition, the project could be another feather in Netflix’s cap. Plus, according to Sarandos, Netflix seems like it is not entirely opposed to the notion of films and miniseries.
“There are some parts of it that are really appealing in that you tend to get a lot of the same fundamental benefits of original programming — star power, excitement, event content — on a smaller budget. And if you get proportionally the same amount of watching, that’s a good thing. The reason why I’ve shied away from original movies has been that there are so many more great movies that get made than ever get distributed, and I think we function better as a distributor for movies than we do as a creator or marketer of movies for now. But I probably would have said the same thing about TV shows three years ago.”
As for their burgeoning original programming roster, Sarandos says:
“It’s feasible that we would double the load that we did this year [with eight new shows]. People’s tastes are wildly diverse, and I want to be able to appeal to all of those tastes and across demos. Hemlock Grove is totally different from House of Cards. Orange Is the New Black is a very different show. I think we can support a lot of specific tastes.”
So, will Arrested Development come back to be as big a part of Netflix’s “Phase Two” as it has been for “Phase One” – standing out as an attention getting lightning rod that helped to establish Netflix as a competitive brand?
Times are different now and Netflix is no longer the new kid on the block, desperate for legitimacy. They have legitimacy now. In fact, it is likely that with the success of House of Cards, a healthy slate of upcoming programs and a growing list of actors and producers clamoring to work with Netflix, Arrested Development almost certainly needs to show that it can be more than a cult addiction and a great Lazarus story if it is to get more than kind words from Sarandos and Netflix going forward, because despite the hype, nothing is likely assured.
Jason Tabrys blogs at Screen Rant.
Where did this movie “Now You See Me” come from?
By now, an inextricable part of the summer (yes, even early May counts as part of the summer movie season now) movie hoopla is massive marketing campaigns. By the time I got to the theater to see “The Avengers” last summer, I felt like I’d heard half of Robert Downey Jr.’s snarky one-liners already in endless TV ads.
But this movie “Now You See Me,” starring actors such as Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, and Michael Caine as, variously, a team of bank-robbing magicians and the authorities trying to discover their secrets, comes out May 31 and I recently found the trailer online having only vaguely heard of the movie. It may be that the “Iron Man 3”/”Great Gatsby”/”Star Trek” noise was merely drowning it out, but this movie seems to have been a quiet summer release so far.
Which is a shame, because the trailer looks intriguing and the cast is top-notch. It’ll be Fisher’s second appearance in a summer movie after she played mistress Myrtle Wilson in director Baz Luhrmann’s “Gatsby,” and Harrelson is coming off his well-reviewed turn in the first “Hunger Games” movie. Freeman just starred in Tom Cruise’s (tepidly received) sci-fi movie “Oblivion.”
As has been remarked by others, I kept being reminded of director Christopher Nolan’s magicians movie “The Prestige” when watching the trailer for “Now,” what with Michael Caine starring in both movies and a sequence in the “Now” trailer when a woman gets trapped in a water tank, which also occurs in “Prestige.” But considering “Prestige” was the last big magicians movie, that’s probably inevitable. And there are worse comparisons – the meticulously plotted film starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman was entertaining and contained a heck of a twist ending.
Check out the trailer for “Now.”
Fast & Furious 6 picks up after the successful Rio heist in Fast Five, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew having given up their lives of crime, spending their hard-earned (read: stolen) money jet setting, wooing supermodels – or in the case of Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), adjusting to fatherhood. All seems well until Diplomatic Security Service Agent, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), tracks Toretto down, requesting the team’s assistance in stopping an international terrorist – in exchange for full U.S. pardons.
Toretto agrees to help and the rest of his crew assemble in London, where they come face-to-face (or car-to-car) with infamous Ex-Special Forces soldier-turned-robber Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), along with his team of cold-blooded killers and expert gear-heads. With only days to stop Shaw from acquiring a dangerous piece of technology, Toretto and his team find themselves out-manned, out-gunned, and forced into taking desperate measures in order to stop the terrorist before he can sell his weapon to the highest bidder.
Director Justin Lin returns to helm Fast & Furious 6. The filmmaker joined the series back in 2006 with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and was instrumental in reinvigorating the franchise – ditching the niche car culture drama (dripping with machismo and scantily clad women) in favor of bombastic vehicle stunts. Fast Five was the most successful film in the series – delivering eye-popping driving sequences along with entertaining character moments – does the director up-the-ante with Fast & Furious 6?
Lin’s latest entry successfully pushes the film series to bigger and more outrageous heights, sometimes at the expense of believability and compelling character drama. However, there’s little doubt that franchise fans (along with anyone who enjoyed Fast Five) will be disappointed by Fast & Furious 6. There are a few eye-rolling moments and, as in prior entries, a very heavy-handed message about “family” (along with some awkward legacy story beats) but scene-to-scene the film offers a no-holds-barred flurry of memorable action and tongue-in-cheek character moments that will definitely entertain moviegoers – even if the plot doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny.
The car stunts are bigger (and crazier) than ever before – easily outdoing the scale of the Rio “Vault” scene from the prior film. Moviegoers who had trouble suspending disbelief in Fast Five will face a similar challenge with Fast & Furious 6, but for anyone on-board with the series’ premise, every outrageous sequence is punctuated with plenty of slick visuals and fun one-liners. The film’s climax suffers a bit from overly-frantic green screen shots, making it hard to fully-appreciate individual altercations – which are sometimes lost in a blur of fast-moving scenery, punches, and gunplay. However, much like the rest of the film, the sum is often better than its individuals parts, and despite a few disorienting elements in the finale, the full sequence is still immensely exciting – and ranks among the series’ most iconic moments.
This round, Dominic Toretto takes center stage (again) – in a personal story that sheds light on his past and the present challenge posed by Owen Shaw. Still, this is a Fast and Furious film, so any attempts at character development are delivered through on-the-nose dialogue about family, sacrifice, and faith. Similarly, the movie works extremely hard to balance franchise legacy elements with recent additions from Fast Five and, as a result, the core Toretto arc is punctuated with clumsy storytelling that can be awkward at times (but not outright distracting). It’s all forgivable, but given the amount of time dedicated to the character’s personal journey, emotional beats never quite deliver on their promises of compelling drama.
Walker’s Brian O’Conner is marginalized this time, given a downright bizarre side-story that could have easily been left out of the film entirely (by adding one or two lines of exposition). The character remains a key member of the crew (and a counterpoint for Toretto), but with the addition of more interesting side-characters like Luke Hobbs (Johnson), O’Conner’s contributions this round are some of the least memorable (or sensical). The dynamic between Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) help off-set the emotionally charged Toretto plot with fun banter as well as misadventures – and, as mentioned, Hobbs (along with partner Riley, played by Gina Carano) add plenty of bone-crushing fisticuffs to the mix.
Shaw, aided by a strong (but ice-cold) performance from Luke Evans, serves as a good foil for Toretto and his gang – showing how differences in the team leaders result in their respective successes and failures. Toretto’s reliance on his family is his greatest vulnerability – whereas Shaw views his team members as nothing more than engine parts (each with their own expiration date). While the analogies get a bit heavy-handed by the end, the dynamic is interesting and serves as a fun opportunity to see Toretto and the team face a colder and more calculated set of doppelgangers.
That said, the Fast & Furious 6 story is full of plot holes and underdeveloped moments of emotional impact. The majority of them will speed by on an initial viewing, but once all of the twists have been revealed and moviegoers are left standing in the aftermath, it’s a noticeably paper-thin plot. Worse yet, the film never takes the necessary time to make sense of several key character moments – sacrificing development, explanations, and/or emotional catharsis for the sake of keeping the film’s pacing up. As stated, there’s never really time to consider these shortcomings in the moment, but for a story that focuses so much on the importance of “family,” the movie ultimately underserves a few featured members who are, apparently, less important than the high-octane thrills.
Of course, impactful drama has never been the primary goal of the Fast & Furious series – and forthat reason, it’s hard to imagine that returning viewers will be underwhelmed by the offerings in Fast & Furious 6. Lin has created a bigger (albeit not necessarily better) film that will please moviegoers looking for nitro-infused car stunts, amusing characters, and enormous action sequences. At times, Fast & Furious 6 is a little unwieldy, saddled with a lot of added baggage, but it’s still an extremely entertaining ride.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.