Archive for the ‘F. Gary Gray’ Category

Trust in the Universe

Men in Black International

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Kayvan Novak

The Fate of The Furious and Straight Outta Compton F. Gary Gray desperately tries to reunite the Men in Black franchise first initiated by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The long awaited reinvention, Men in Black International is a slight misnomer as the two Men in Black are Agent H for Henry played by Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor, The Avengers) and Agent M for Molly played by Hemsworth’s Thor Ragnorak co-star Tessa Thompson.

Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howard’s End, Sense and Sensibility) pops up periodically as Agent O who promises Agent M that they are working on The Men in Black title? A possible feminist reinvention?

While director F. Gary Gray methodically ticks all the right boxes in this bizarre space action film which moves swiftly from New York to London, Paris and Marrakesh, he fails to uplift this film to the quirky originality of the first Men in Black possibly because of the over-exposure of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

Their onscreen chemistry worked in Thor: Ragnarok but starts to wear dangerously thin in Men in Black International.

Thompson lands up playing the smart New Yorker next to Hemsworth’s dashing clean shaven pin up boy Agent H who feels nothing at sleeping with aliens or wearing pink trousers in a rather bizarre sequence on an Italian island with a vampish Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Greatest Showman) as a three armed intergalactic weapons dealer Riza.

Men in Black International is a fun film, but the aliens play second fiddle to the real conflict between the humans in a fairly predictable story about a malevolent force planning on attacking planet Earth. Naturally the new 21st century Men and Women In Black are suited and booted to protect the population from the scum of the universe.

Men In Black International gets a film rating of 6 out of 10 and could have been so much smarter, funnier and inspiring, but instead comes off as a paint by numbers diversity sci-fi action comedy which ticks all the boxes even those that don’t exist.

MIB International is saved by Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) and Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit, The Commuter, Taken) although even their performances are lacklustre in a messy storyline saved by exotic locations and slick gadgetry.

Audiences should not expect a return to form or onscreen chemistry which the original 1997 film produced or the 2002 and 2012 sequels all directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.

Live Fast, Die Harder

Fast and Furious 8

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivuju, Elsa Pataky

As if there weren’t enough Fast and Furious films, there has to be an eighth film less the appearance of actor Paul Walker who tragically died in a car accident in California in 2013, just after filming The Fast and Furious 7.

The Italian Job director F. Gary Gray assembles an international cast featuring most of the actors from the previous films including Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty along with Tyrese Gibson as Roman and Chris Bridges as Tej Parker. This time the chief villain is South African born Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) as ruthless hacker Cipher who entices Dominic into working for him after she approaches him in a Havana Street. Cipher’s hold of Dominic turns to be blackmail and she constantly manipulates his familial duties and his bond to his gang of drivers.

To add some muscle to the cast are Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs and action man Jason Statham as Deckard who are recruited by a covert intelligence officer aptly identified as Mr Nobody played by Kurt Russell who is definitely experience a resurgence in his career. Mr Nobody’s sidekick Little Nobody is played by Scott Eastwood (Fury) son of veteran actor Clint Eastwood.

Let’s face it the screenwriters are not exactly imaginative with character names. Suffice to say is that audiences that enjoyed all the other Fast and Furious films will definitely enjoy this international joyride as the action swiftly moves from Havana, Cuba to New York and then onto an icy showdown in Russia which involves a nuclear submarine among all the fast cars and snowmobiles. The Manhattan action sequence might be implausible but is definitely not an advert for the benefits of self-driving cars which can be remotely hacked. See it to believe it.

Considering that Fast and the Furious 8 was number one at the South African box office for three consecutive weeks since its Easter weekend opening and that the action film has grossed over a $1 billion dollars worldwide there is definitely enough fan support to sustain this fast-paced action franchise for further films to come.

Judging by the packed cinema when I watched the film, Fast and Furious 8 or the Fate of the Furious has the winning combination of fast cars, gadgets, beautiful women and a healthy dose of Hollywood cameos. This is popcorn cinema at its most formulaic and these films certainly keeps many actors employed.

As the characters live fast and some of them die harder, Fast and Furious 8 is a fun-filled action film but don’t expect anything too highbrow. Audiences should look out for Game of Thrones stars Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey and Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivuju as Toretto’s musclebound enemy Rhodes.

Fast and Furious 8 gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. If you enjoyed the other films, then this film will satisfy even the most ardent speed racers who can visually salivate at fast cars and daring stunts.

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