Tag Archives: Charlize Theron

My Thoughts on: F9 (2021)

After being delayed for about a year, I finally got to go and watch F9 in theaters. This is the first mainline installment of the Fast & Furious series that I’ve seen in theaters since Fast Five in 2011 (Hobbs & Shaw is a spin-off and therefore doesn’t count). After the epic display that was Fate of the Furious, I was very excited to see F9, especially as it revealed two earth-shattering bombshells. One: Dom has had a younger brother this entire time and we’re only just now meeting him and two: Han is still alive! With these two twists alone I was more than eager to see how the film would go about explaining them.

Well….I have good news and bad news. The good news is, the film DOES do a pretty adequate job of explaining how Dom has had a younger brother this entire time AND how Han didn’t die like we thought he did. The bad news is how the film goes about it. A decent chunk of this 2 1/2 hour film is devoted to lengthy flashbacks explaining both of these stories. It’s not that the flashbacks aren’t well done, they’re actually quite good. The thing is, if a film has to jump through this many hoops to explain its current plot…then something has gone sideways somewhere along the way. Perhaps I can explain the issue best if I say that F9 has to try way too hard to explain the existence of Jakob Toretto and Han’s not-being-dead. It doesn’t help that we’re meant to believe that John Cena is Vin Diesel’s younger brother. I tried to believe it, I really did, but it doesn’t quite work, though I will give everyone involved credit for trying.

That’s not the film’s only issue either. After five straight installments of upping the action to another level, F9 finally went too far by going to space. The entire submarine sequence in Fate of the Furious was more believable than this. There is now literally no way for the tenth and eleventh installments (more on those later) to raise the action to another level now without looking absolutely ridiculous. I mean how can you possibly top going to space?? You can’t and that’s going to be a problem down the line.

Also, there’s something about how the whole story is put together that bothered me. And after thinking about it for a while, I think I know what it is. See, at this point I’m used to the Fast & Furious movies jumping around to exotic locales, which F9 does plenty of. But there’s so much jumping around that it dawned on me that the film overall feels very disjointed. So even if most of the individual sections are good (or at least okay), taken together as a whole, it’s rather uneven in many places. I will say I loved the scene with Helen Mirren and Vin Diesel, it was delightful from beginning to end.

One more thing that bothered me: your experience of this film will most definitely suffer if you haven’t seen the early installments of this series. In particular, if you (like me) have yet to see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, then one whole section of this film is going to make little to no sense to you. I get that they wanted to do a callback, but this one goes so far back it might go over a lot of people’s heads.

Now, with all that being said, I still can’t say the film was terrible because I did enjoy quite a few moments in it. Cipher (Charlize Theron) in particular was a delight to watch, though I do wish her character had gotten more screen time given her current importance to the story. There’s a lot of really good funny spots scattered throughout and the car chases, as always, were the best part of the movie (that stuff with magnets that gets teased in the trailers is just as good as it looks, trust me). This definitely isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, though it probably is the weakest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise to date (yes, even weaker than Hobbs & Shaw).

The thing that really gets me is, I don’t see how they can keep the story going for another two entries, I really don’t. This film had the perfect opportunity to kill Cipher off once and for all, wrap everything up in a neat little bow and give our heroes their happily ever after. And I don’t know how it will be in other theaters, but when it was revealed that, spoiler alert, Cipher wasn’t dead, I swear I heard a soft groan in the theater as we all realized the same thing: the ultimate villain lives, this story will continue. Of course I want to see Cipher get what’s coming to her after everything she’s done, but really what more can they do?? As much as I love the Fast & Furious films, they’re getting dangerously close to wearing out their welcome by dragging the story on for too long. No franchise, however good, can last forever, and F9 is proof that you can drag a story too far and make it not as good as it might have been.

Again, I can’t say I hated F9, but it was not as good as I thought it might be. John Cena is an adequate addition to the story, but he’s not the Rock and I hate that he and Vin Diesel had a falling out because Hobbs’ presence was sorely missed in this story, at least by me. If you’ve stuck it out this far with this franchise, then you’ll likely find stuff to enjoy in F9, just don’t raise your expectations too high.

Let me know what you think about F9 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Fast Five (2011)

My Thoughts on: Furious 7 (2015)

My Thoughts on: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

My Thoughts on: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

*minor spoilers for the movie below (putting the warning out just in case)

Just when I thought I couldn’t get more blown away by a Fast and Furious film, I put in The Fate of the Furious (the most recent main-line entry to date) and I get blown away all over again. Seriously, how on Earth are they going to top what they did in this film? We’re so far past the suspension of disbelief at this point that just about anything is possible. But I digress, let’s go back to the beginning.

The Fate of the Furious is interesting on so many levels. Not only does it take the adventures of Dom and company to insane new heights (and equally horrifying lows), it also reveals that everything that’s happened since Fast and Furious 6 has been part of one big plot, and the true villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) is only just now being revealed. I love these kinds of plot revelations because they cause you to go back and re-examine everything you thought you knew about a certain set of films. Character’s motivations aren’t what you thought they were, and everything changes (at least it did for me).


As big as that reveal is, however, that’s nothing compared to Dom’s plot arc throughout the entire film. I remember watching a teaser for this film and freaking out when Dom turned on everyone (school issues prevented me from seeing this in theaters or I surely would’ve). Plot twists like this one are very dangerous, because if the wrong motivation is laid out in the film, then the entire arc can fall flat. Thankfully, when Dom’s motivation to turn is revealed, it makes absolutely perfect sense. After all, Dom’s love of family is well-known, and that’s probably the only thing I can think of that would motivate him to do what he did. And that’s also why Cipher’s days are surely numbered. She screwed with Dom’s family, and worse, an innocent, and the last time I checked anyone who does that winds up dead (or at least seriously maimed in the case of the Shaw brothers).

And speaking of the Shaws, I believe I misspoke in my post about Furious 7. Having seen The Fate of the Furious, I now realize that this is the film that really sets up the dynamic between Hobbs and Shaw that we see in the spin-off, or at least lays the groundwork for it (they don’t really interact enough in Furious 7, though their chemistry is noticeable even then). Also, it’s really awesome to see Deckard and Owen working together (no matter how briefly), I would gladly welcome a movie that pairs those two together again.


Now then, back to my opening remarks: how CAN they possibly top what they did in this film? Seriously, they had to dodge a freaking submarine with their fancy cars, while driving on ice in the middle of Russia. It doesn’t get much crazier than that (it’s even crazier than the Abu Dhabi stunt, and that’s saying a lot!) I’m still in love with the crazy action sequences, but in all honestly, I think this movie hit the limit as to just how far they can push it (just watch the next movie prove me wrong).

Overall, The Fate of the Furious has me completely wound up for whatever’s to come in the next installment. You better believe I’ll be in line next summer when the time comes to see it. Let me know what you think about The Fate of the Furious in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Fast Five (2011)

My Thoughts on: Furious 7 (2015)

My Thoughts on: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Italian Job (2003)

I’ve been told for years that The Italian Job is a film that I should see, and last night I finally got around to seeing it. First thing I have to say is, I am so glad I did, because The Italian Job is a great movie! It does show its age here and there (the dated technology, the fact that the film has opening credits) but overall it holds up pretty well for a film that’s 16 years old.

If you’re not familiar, The Italian Job is loosely (very loosely) based on the 1969 film of the same name, and follows a tight-knit group of thieves as they seek vengeance after a gold heist in Venice goes sideways. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Donald Sutherland, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, and Jason Statham (who has actual hair on his head, that’s how old this movie is!) It’s an all-star cast, and I admit I had a lot of fun watching the different characters interact, particularly Jason Statham as Rob. Honestly, any film that has Statham in it, I’m probably going to like (it’s partly his accent, accents are my weakness).


Actually, this movie reminded me more than once of Ocean’s 11 (2001) and I don’t mean that in a bad way. You have to admit they are somewhat similar: an all-star cast playing rogues and thieves out for righteous vengeance (admittedly that’s closer to Ocean’s 13 (2007) but I digress), the insanely detailed planning of the heist, last minute twists that “change the plan but it STILL works out,” and the biggest similarity: the humor, which is there in spades. Though, while similar, the two films are not identical, as I think The Italian Job is much darker in tone than any of the Ocean’s 11/12/13 films (especially that part at the beginning).

Part of the reason I picked up this film at all is because of the MINI Cooper chase that the film is known for. I’d heard from somewhere that this was regarded as one of the best car chase scenes ever filmed, and whoever said it is right. The entire sequence is phenomenal, and I may never look at those cars the same way again. It’s tense, but fun, and it’s great to see them running circles around their nemesis.


Last, but not least, I need to talk about Edward Norton. If I hadn’t read beforehand that Norton didn’t want to be in the film, I think I still would’ve figured it out. Norton’s attitude stands out throughout the entire film, and not in a good way. Granted, I believe he’s meant to be playing an asshole character, but the way he does it is a complete turn-off. You can just tell, from his snark to the look on his face, he does not want to be there, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Actually one final thought: how is it that this film has never gotten a sequel? After the film, I read about ‘The Brazilian Job,’ a would-be sequel that never got off the ground, but  even with that film failing I find it hard to believe that no one in Hollywood has come up with a sequel. With that cast, I would be more than happy to watch a sequel follow their continuing adventures. Well, I’m sure if we wait a few more years someone will come up with the idea to reboot the film into a franchise. And truthfully, as long as they find a way to put Jason Statham into it, I wouldn’t mind all that much.

If you haven’t seen The Italian Job, go see it. It’s an older heist film now, but it still holds up and is very entertaining. I feel a little bad that I put off seeing this film for so long, however it was totally worth the wait.

Let me know what you think about The Italian Job in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Atomic Blonde (2017)

For the first time in what feels like months (and I think it literally has been months) I got to go see a movie in theatres and the selection was Atomic Blonde!! I’ve been intrigued by this movie since I saw the first preview and it did not disappoint!


In brief, Atomic Blonde takes place in November 1989, a few days before the Berlin Wall came down (literally). The plot revolves around attempts to recapture “The List”, a piece of microfilm that contains the names of every field agent currently working in the Soviet Union (if it falls into the wrong hands numerous operations would be compromised). Top MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is brought in to retrieve The List and to assassinate an operative known only as Satchel. Satchel has been working as a double agent for the Soviets for years. Lorraine’s primary contact in Berlin is David Percival (James McAvoy), a fellow British agent who has gone more than a little mental in the years he’s worked in Berlin.

I loved McAvoy’s performance as Percival. From the moment we meet him, there’s an immediate suspicion that he could be Satchel, the double agent. Numerous hints are given to suggest that he is secretly undermining Lorraine and it is seemingly confirmed when Percival shoots a man (who memorized the List) that they are trying to smuggle out of East Berlin (he ultimately drowns when the car he and Lorraine are in crashes into a river).

And then there’s Charlize Theron in a complete badass role as Lorraine Broughton. She is intense from beginning to end and I loved every minute of it. I can see why people made comparisons between her character and John Wick (though even without the comparison I enjoyed the character).

You can tell that this story is adapted from a graphic novel (The Coldest City). I’m certain some of the scenes (like Lorraine emerging from a bathtub of ice) are taken straight from the pages of the story, and the fight scenes play out like they were taken straight from a comic story (they’re super-intense, with lots of high-intensity action and almost zero pauses).

The biggest thing I want to talk about is the twists that come at the end of the story (WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW). So as I said, almost the entire film is spent building up our expectation that Percival is actually a double agent. Except when the climax comes, it’s turned around and revealed that LORRAINE is Satchel, she is the one who has been feeding intel to the Russians, she needed to kill Percival to cover her tracks. That was Twist #1.


THEN, the story goes to Paris, where Lorraine (now speaking with a Russian accent), is meeting with a Soviet spy (who we met earlier in Berlin) who is revealed to be her handler. Having been informed of her “true” allegiances to the British, the Soviet leaves her to be disposed of by a professional hit squad (they even ask if she would be so kind as to step onto the tarp so her death will not make a mess in the hotel room). But Lorraine fights them off and before killing the Soviet spy, reveals that all the intelligence she’s given to the Soviets over the years has been FALSE. So she’s actually a fake double agent. That was Twist #2.


And the big kicker? The moment my jaw smacked the floor and my brain exploded? After being debriefed on all of this (the film bookends around Lorraine recounting all of this to MI6 and a CIA Agent) and agreeing that “none of this ever happened,” Lorraine heads to a private jet where she meets up with the CIA Agent. A montage reveals how she manipulated recordings and other evidence to show the British what they wanted to see and in actuality she’s American CIA (has been the entire time!!!). The CIA Agent who helped debrief her is waiting on the plane and she says (in an American accent) “Let’s go home.” And THAT Was Twist #3 (which came in the final sixty seconds of the film)!


Those three twists led me to rethink EVERYTHING I had seen throughout the movie, because knowing that Lorraine is actually American CIA calls into question every motive and decision she made. And as the title of this post implies, I did NOT see any of these twists coming (which makes them the best kind of twists).

All in all, I liked Atomic Blonde. It was, as the saying goes, “a good popcorn film.” Sorry it took so long to get this review out, my life has been crazy for the last several months, but I’m glad you are sticking with me. Later!

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My thoughts on: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

So on Saturday afternoon I finally got to see Kubo and the Two Strings and wow! Oh.my.gosh. This film is AMAZING!! It deserves every ounce of praise that it is getting and is easily the best film I have seen this year, period. I can’t sing the praises of the stop-motion animation enough, this film takes the genre to an entirely different level. In fact, the stop-motion was so fluid that for 90% of the film, I forgot that this was stop-motion entirely (there are a handful of moments where you can see the tell-tale signs that the figures are being manipulated, but I’m not really complaining).


As for the story, oh wow, talk about a roller coaster ride! This story had more than it’s fair share of highs and lows. The film stars Art Parkinson as Kubo, Charlize Theron as Monkey (Kubo’s protector), and Matthew McConaughey as Beetle, a strange warrior-beetle…thing. The film has a heavy emphasis on dealing with loss, the power of memories and the meaning of family. The main villain of this film is the mysterious Moon King, an otherworldly figure that is after Kubo for the most dastardly of reasons (and when the full reason is explained, I gasped in horror). To try and stop the Moon King, Kubo embarks on a journey to find a legendary suit of armor and a sword that is said to be powerful enough to defeat him.

But we don’t meet the Moon King until well into the film; first we meet two of his daughters (and I don’t believe they have any specific name) and they are, by far, two of the scariest characters I’ve seen in a long time. In fact…

*minor spoilers*

The Moon King’s daughters remind me very much of V from V for Vendetta because they both wear these smiling masks (that make them look really creepy) and they wear long black cloaks with wide-brimmed black hats. Every time I saw them, I had the nagging sensation that they looked familiar, but it wasn’t until I got home that I made the connection. I’m not saying it’s bad that they resemble V, just pointing out the similarity.


Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) are hilarious, especially when they’re interacting with each other. And of course, Kubo himself is the best character in the film; he cares for his mother, he takes on this massive quest and…. *minor spoiler* he learns to use magic.

Traditional Japanese music is front and center in this film and that is something that I love! A lot of the music is generated in-story by the shamisen that belongs to Kubo and his mother. A shamisen is a traditional Japanese instrument that has three strings and is played with a plectrum (think of a really large guitar pick). As a film music scholar, I’m so pleased to see a film with non-orchestral music, as that is a rare thing these days.


A Japanese noblewoman with a shamisen

In conclusion, Kubo and the Two Strings is an amazing film (I keep saying that but it’s true!) that everyone should go see. After the less than stellar sequels, prequels and remakes offered this summer, Kubo and the Two Strings is a breath of fresh air. 🙂

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