Tag Archives: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Handicapping The Fate of the Furious on Pop Culture Happy Hour

fast-and-furious8-1I’m on Pop Culture Happy Hour today for the first time since our bummed-out post-election Pop Culture Serotonin Spectacular. And it was all the way back in December 2015 that I last shared the studio with the great Gene Demby of the Code Switch blog and podcast, when we broke down Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I always feel things have gone well when I’m with Gene; he’s a calming presence I guess.  Most of this week’s episode was recorded live on stage in Chicago at last week, and neither Gene not I were present for that, so we’re in the first segment only. The topic is The Fate of the Furious, a film I reviewed… unfavorably.

One thing I said in the studio that didn’t make the cut was to cite an example of a wackass movie that has what I called “a guiding intelligence” on the show: John Wick is set in a bizarro world that screenwriter Derek Kolstad has taken care to imagine vividly, letting us see some of its weird economy and language. In Wick, The Continental is a hotel (played by that Flatiron Building) frequented by assassins. To commit any act of violence on its grounds, or even to make arrangements on Continental property for “business” to be conducted elsewhere is forbidden on pain of excommunication. John Wick is no more “realistic” an action film than any entry in the Fast & Furiad, but it’s a much more richly imagined one, and to my mind, substantially better. But to confine our comparison to the action flick meat-and-potatoes, Keanu’s stunt driving and hand-to-hand fighting are—like his, you know, acting—much more persuasive than Vin Diesel’s. Man, I do not get that guy at all.

Neither Wick nor Fast can touch something like Mad Max: Fury Road, of course — but I do think it’s fair to compare the Furiosities to the Missions: Impossible. And that comparison does not favor Fast.

I read Bee Shapiro’s New York Times interview with Diesel this week, and I spent most of it thinking maybe I’d misjudged him. He was a theatre kid! He aspire to work with Sidney Lumet! Thank god he reaffirmed his essential d-baggery right at the end, where he put Dom and Letty into the canon of Western literature.

Diesel Fumes: The Fate of the Furious, reviewed.

the-fate-of-the-furious-dwayne-johnsonWe all know the deathless The Fast & The Furious series can’t touch Mad Max: Fury Road or even its closer competitor the Mission: Impossible franchise, right? We all know that?

Even by the series’ own standards of allegedly intentional badness, the new The Fate of the Furious is a sour lemon. (136 minutes, four good scenes.) Here’s my NPR review.

Spy School Confidential: Central Intelligence, reviewed.


My NPR review of the not-great-but-plenty-good-enough-for-the-drive-in comedy that I keep thinking is called National Security but is in fact being released under the equally bland title Central Intelligence is up now.  You are alerted.

The Fault Not in Our Stars: San Andreas, reviewed.

Magic Fingers

I went with my friend and colleague Heather to see San Andreas, and we felt saw the Earth move. That the film really seems not to notice that its fireman chopper-pilot hero is a deserter and a thief is part of the fun. My NPR review, which opens with a discussion of the 1974 Universal Pictures release Earthquake — written by Mario Puzo the same year as The Godfather, Part II! — is here. Continue reading