Tag Archives: Tyrese Gibson


Fast X

by Hope Madden

We are ten films into the Fast and Furious franchise. So let’s just start with some obvious points. #1, Vin Diesel is easily the most uninteresting thing about 9 of the 10 films (he’s not in #3).

The most interesting thing continues to be the set pieces – the fisticuffs, city explosions, flying car shenanigans. Director Louis Leterrier had some big tires to fill stepping into the tenth episode, and those two Transporter films are not pedigree enough. But he more than holds his own, even if the ridiculous nature of most of these will have you laughing out loud.

I laughed out loud many times. This is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen this year – mainly unintentionally, but how fun!

And then the other reason to like this franchise: the villains. Most of them wind up falling to Dom’s charms and joining his cult, but still! And a ton of them are back for this one: Statham, Mirren, Cena, Theron, and now, Momoa.

Jason Momoa has a ball, all swagger and silliness as the devil – a foe so evil that all previous villains (even those who sought to end the world; even those who actually killed members of Dom’s beloved family) quake in his presence. His every moment onscreen is a joy, but I honestly think one particular scene with toenail polish might have been added late just to show us how amazing he can be.

The core group – the family – of course returns, although the adventure splits them up to allow opportunities to bloat the run time. I mean, to give each of them arcs and storylines. Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges lead the comic relief squad. They head one way while Uncle Jakob (John Cena) takes Dom’s precious son a different direction.

Most interesting, per usual, is whatever Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) does. It mainly involves Oscar winner Brie Larson (making her F&F debut as Mr. Nobody’s daughter) and Oscar winner Charlize Theron (who, once again, delivers a performance far better than the material deserves).

Cameos galore, plus a stinger you’ve heard about but probably still want to stick around to see, add to both the run time and the fun.

Somewhere around Justin Lin’s Fast 5 (ironic, given the Fast X storyline), Dom and his family just became superheroes, flying, impenetrable, imperturbable superheroes. Yes, you will hear the word family more often than every other word in the script combined. No, Diesel never acts.

I mean, he can. We all saw Saving Private Ryan once up on a time. He just doesn’t do it here. He’s a gravelly voiced Buddha, as he always has been. And he’s the least compelling element in the film or the series, as he always has been. It takes nothing way from the film. It never has.

Fast X. Dumb as hell. Thumbs up all around.

The Guns of Navagroan

Come Out Fighting

by Daniel Baldwin

War movies have been an action cinema staple since the dawn of filmmaking and men-on-a-mission movies are perhaps the most popular form of war film. Writer/director Steven Luke has carved out a niche for himself on the DTV action circuit making bargain budgeted World War II tales. Come Out Fighting is the latest of these.

As he did in his previous outings, Luke has assembled a nice, recognizable cast of genre actors. You’ve got indie martial arts superstar Michael Jai White (Blood & BoneBlack Dynamite), Kellan Lutz (The Twilight Saga), Tyrese Gibson (The Fast & Furious Saga), and an ever-grizzled Dolph Lundgren (no introduction required). All in all, not a bad assortment of fisticuff-throwing fellas to send into battle against a Nazi horde!

On paper, Come Out Fighting sounds like a fun little flick. In execution, however, it is anything but. The good news is that all of the men above have roles that are larger than cameos. The bad news is that they’re all too good for this film. Try as they might to hold it all together, their collective efforts cannot turn the tide on a bad script and even worse direction.

Anyone who watches the occasional direct-to-video actioner of this type knows to expect things like production design, costuming, and special effects work to not be on par with similar studio-produced fare. The best directors in this field still manage to overcome such limitations with sharper scripts, small but still thrilling setpieces, and low budget movie-making ingenuity. Jesse V. Johnson’s Hell Hath No Fury is an excellent example of this, managing to check off that entire list in spite of its miniscule budget. Come Out Fighting, however, manages none of these things, instead serving up heaping helpings of bad blocking, poor scene geography, and some pretty glaring historical inaccuracies.

It does at least have something on its mind, as it digs into the prejudices that African American soldiers faced from their own white compatriots during the war. As commendable as that is, that simply isn’t enough to salvage an otherwise inept picture. If you’re in the mood for an engaging new slice o’ action-filled WWII entertainment this weekend, you’re better off seeking out the aforementioned Hell Hath No Fury or Jalmari Helander’s now-on-VOD revenger Sisu.

Dr. Feelbad


by George Wolf

For a movie about a guy with a serious taste for blood, Morbius shows hardly any of it being spilled. That’s just one of the reasons the film feels hamstrung from what it wants to be.

What Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) wants to be is healthy. Born with a strange DNA abnormality that paired a genius mind with a broken body, Michael put “Dr.” in front of Morbius at age 19 on the way to becoming the foremost expert on blood borne diseases.

And now, his research with vampire bats from Costa Rica has yielded a breakthrough…with a catch. He gets super human, downright monstrous powers, but they wear off without more servings of blood. And while he’s getting by with the artificial variety for now, Morbius knows the time is coming when only human blood will do.

So the clock is ticking, and not just for Morbius. His colleague Martine (Adria Arjona) is feeling the heat, while Milo (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, who seems to enjoy hamming it up), Michael’s childhood friend who suffers from the same DNA abnormality, is eager for the cure – and fine with the consequences.

Director Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) has plenty of fun with the CGI, and while the facial morphing is mighty impressive, the increased battle sequences end up trending more toward soulless, Van Helsing-style gymnastics.

Abrupt editing does Espinosa no favors, either, and the pace that initially feels nicely brisk leads to a narrative that just seems impatient. Many of the themes at work here are common to comic book adaptations, but just checking off the boxes is no substitute for development.

Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (the duo behind Gods Of Egypt, The Last Witch Hunter and Dracula Untold – all dreadful) try to inject some humor via a pair of detectives (Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal) hunting the “vampire killer,” but what the script needs most of all is to take Milo’s advice.

Embrace what you are!

This Morbius seems too desperate to sit at the cool Spider-Man table right now, skirting the commitment to a more fully formed, standalone character that would only reap dividends down the road. And yes, sit tight during the credits for two extra peeks in that direction.

But come on, this is vampire stuff, right? Throw off those PG-13 shackles and really dig in! Go for the jugular, if you will. Man, that could have been a rush.

This isn’t.

Inner Conflict


by Hope Madden

I remember watching the inexplicably popular Bad Boys for Life and marveling at the film’s narrative purpose: to convince Marcus (Martin Lawrence) that being a violent man is better than being a man who does not commit violence against others.

Sure, there’s a mother/son angle, some explosions, a disco scene, but everything that happens does so to convince Marcus that his real purpose is to commit violence.

It’s different than the traditional “one man against the world” action flick, where a peaceful man is forced back into violence to avenge the death of his wife/child/puppy. Those have long existed. This idea that a man who chooses not to physically harm others needs to somehow be persuaded that he prefers a life of violence, that it is his nature and should be celebrated, is kind of new. This theme is also the driving force behind the admittedly enjoyable Nobody, among others.

The latest film that hates to see a man get his baser instincts under control is David Hackl’s Dangerous.

Scott Eastwood leads a solitary life. He works out. He eats frozen dinners. He waters his plants. Then his mind-numbing peace is disrupted when his brother Sean’s death brings him to the remote island where Sean had been renovating an old military base into a hotel.

Eastwood, who channels his father more and more these days, is now non-violent with the help of some personality-deadening drugs and call-me-whenever guidance from his therapist, played by Mel Gibson.

That’s funny.

Hackl’s clearly working on a shoestring here, and though the film sometimes shows a lack of funds, on the whole, it’s competently made. The humor Hackl, Gibson and Eastwood mine from Christopher Borrelli’s script delivers Dangerous’s saving grace.

Because, yes, D (Eastwood’s character) falls into ex-military, Black Op style gunplay once on the island, but first the recovering sociopath has to deal with his mom. Beyond that, the mystery is convoluted beyond measure, Tyrese Gibson and Famke Janssen are pointless, performances are forgettable.

In the end, the whole mess feels like the familiar fantasy of doing right by your mother just one time and then disappearing so you can’t screw it up. Which is a better story than the one about a sociopath who decides being a decent human is just not being true to himself.

John Cena’s In This One

F9: The Fast Saga

by George Wolf

So if this is the ninth installment, that means all laws of physics went out the window 7.5 Fast films ago. Just remember that when there’s a Plymouth Fiero in space for reelz.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have been trying to live a quiet life in the country with little Brian, but they’re going to need a sitter.

Seems Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) sent the gang an S.O.S. not long after he captured Cipher (Charlize Theron). Now Mr. N. is missing, Cipher’s on the loose, and everybody’s trying to get their hands on both halves of a device that, when made whole, will take control of every weapons system in the world.

And you know who already has one half? Dom’s bigger little brother Jacob (John Cena). We haven’t heard about Jacob until now because the boys have serious beef about who was to blame for their father’s death in a 1989 stock car race.

So Dom’s ad nauseam mantra of “family” has its limits.

Lighten up, right? Don’t take it so seriously, this franchise is about the action! I get it, and when the tone is right (like it was with director James Wan in Furious 7) I’m right there with you.

But this film takes itself waaay too seriously. Director/co-writer Justin Lin is back for his fifth go ’round, and after an opening filled with the usual auto gymnastics, settles into a story surprisingly heavy on the spy game.

Cena gets no chance to flash his charismatic mischievous side, as he and Diesel seem intent on making steely stares and jaw clenching an Olympic sport. Roman and Tej (Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) try to fill the playful void left by Hobbs and Shaw, but their hi-jinx seldom rise above silly wise cracking.

Plenty of familiar franchise faces return (Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Helen Mirren, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang), often bringing with them a good amount of exposition explaining what their characters have been doing or why they aren’t really dead.

There’s so much nostalgia, you’d think they were actually trying to put a bow on this whole thing if the film wasn’t simultaneously inventing new threads. And as the running time keeps running, it all starts to feel pretty tedious.

But if you want your flying cars and electro-magnet explosions on the biggest screen possible, F9 will eventually give that to you (even in IMAX where available). Just don’t expect the self-awareness to realize how close they are to self-parody.

Also, hang through the credits and you’ll get a stinger with a big clue about what’s coming in the tenth round: a Prius on top of Mt. Everest.

Not really. But at this point, why not?

Furiouser and Furiouser

Fast and Furious 6

By Hope Madden


There’s this code, see. And while Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t spell it out, I gather it has something to do with steroids and bald heads.

Six! Can you believe this is the sixth installment in this street-racers-turned-international-thieves-turned-good-guys series? Boy, that time sure slid by in a sheen of muscle oil and turtle wax, didn’t it?

Well, this go-round Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson participate in a big-and-bald-off for a little over two hours while some limey tries to steal a world-ending computer chip. Who cares about that, though, when Dominic has Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to bring back?!

It is nice having Rodriguez back in the cast. Her level of skill is debatable, but her face is an impressive mask of undiluted contempt. Director Justin Lin wisely pairs her with MMA ass kicker Gina Carano, meaning she finally has the opportunity at a fair fight. Otherwise she’d have just had to make the rest of the cast her bitches and be done with it.

Flanking Rodriguez is the predictable assortment of hulks and hotties. Paul Walker took a break from his rockin’ career in pizza delivery to join Pumpasaurus Rex and the Pec-tets. Meanwhile, Tyrese Gibson gets the chance to be uncharacteristically but intentionally funny.

Diesel’s comic moments are more unintentional. He’s unflappable, sporting a weirdly peaceful expression and spouting lines like, “What you found out is for you. What we do now is for her.” He’s like a gravelly voiced Buddha.

Dwarfing Buddha is the enormous Johnson, whose performance feels eerily familiar – same head cock, same arched eyebrow, even the same undersized Under Armour tees. Yes, I believe he may have just wandered accidentally over from the GI Joe set. I think I heard him call Toretto Cobra Commander just now.

Eventually it seemed clear that my best course of action was to unplug the brainstem and let the loud noises and pretty colors wash over me. Ignore the “plot”, disregard the “acting”, and just appreciate the well choreographed car chases and fisticuffs. It was working, too – a little MMA, a little old school WWE and a whole lot of girlfight – until Act 3 reared its bulbous head.

No power to suspend disbelief is strong enough to contend with the epic ridiculousness of the final reel or two of this film.

I’ll have to try harder with FF7, I guess.