Furious 7: This Time It’s Personal. Or Something? Anyway, A Lot Of Cars Blow Up!

Just kidding. They're about to get into cars.
All dressed up and no car to car.

The Fast and Furious series has become one of the miracles of modern blockbuster cinema. What started as a decent pulp thriller about youth street racing that made Vin Diesel into a star has become a globe-spanning genre-busting soap opera featuring the most multicultural cast you’ll find at cineplexes. After its splashy start, the series muddled along until The Rock joined the cast in Fast Five as some kind of an international police officer or something, and then it went absolutely nuts. And now Furious 7 is here and it’s the craziest, most nonsensical, most action-packed film in the series.

I mean that as a compliment.

I think.

You’ve probably read X-Men comics with less of a convoluted backstory than Furious 7: a vengeful killing machine named Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) targets Dominic Toretto (Diesel, who seems to learn his lines phonetically,) his amnesiac girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodgriguez,) his street-racing compatriot Brian (Paul Walker, who died as the movie was being filmed,) and his whole crew (Ludacris, The Rock, Tyrese Gibson) for putting Shaw’s brother in a coma. Happily, you don’t have to watch any of the previous Fast and Furious movies to get what’s going on in Furious 7—hell, I’ve seen all the movies and I barely get what’s going on in Furious 7. It’s a global cat-and-mouse chase, stretching from LA to Tokyo to Azerbaijan to Abu Dhabi and back again. And it co-stars a very game Kurt Russell as a secret government agent named Mr. Nobody. What’s not to love?

Continue reading “Furious 7: This Time It’s Personal. Or Something? Anyway, A Lot Of Cars Blow Up!”

Review: 3 Days to Kill, 15 Minutes to Forget

In case it's not clear the movie is set in Paris...
In case it’s not clear the movie is set in Paris…

There was a time Luc Besson was a force to reckon with. During the ’90s Besson treated us with top notch entertainment (The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita), the kind that reverberates for years. At some point, Besson must have decided the rewards weren’t worth the effort and veered towards cheap thrillers without cinematic value. The filmmaker also opted out the director chair and limited himself to script and produce interchangeable titles like The Transporter, Taken and From Paris with Love.

3 Days to Kill is another American knockoff with European flavor. That said, it’s quite an entertaining failure. It’s like The Room of Euro-thrillers, a tonally inconsistent movie, stuffed with clichés and one or two funny ideas to keep you from storming out.

Kevin Costner, who is experiencing a resurgence of sorts, is a retired CIA agent with just a few months to live due to cancer. The once cold-blooded killer has decided to relocate to Paris and spend his final days reconnecting with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) and his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen, The Devil’s Advocate).

Uncle Sam has other plans for him. His handler (Amber Heard) offers the retired assassin an experimental drug in exchange for a final mission: Find and dispatch two international terrorists, The Wolf and The Albino. It’s hard to take this movie seriously with those nicknames.

3 Days to Kill unfolds predictably but has so many little quirks it becomes tolerable. Costner’s apartment in Paris is filled with the nicest squatters you could imagine. His main form of transportation is a purple bike and seeks parental advice from the same criminals he is tracking down. The cherry on the cake is Amber Heard as Costner’s boss. Heard is hilarious as an over-the-top sexpot who embodies every femme fatale trait ever created. She also gets the best one-liners (“I’m EVERYBODY’S type”).

If you’re looking for empty calories, 3 Days to Kill could be satisfying enough. Just don’t expect to remember any of it once you leave the theatre.

Two hard-living prairie dogs. 3 Days to Kill is now playing.

Guest Review: The Sadies

The Sadies were in Regina on Thursday for a show at the Exchange. I didn’t make it out to the gig because I was at a fantastic dance performance by Compagnie Marie Chouinard at University Theatre. But Kendall Latimer, who was a My Music subject in an issue of Prairie Dog last December, did and she sent us this review of the show which I’m posting here:

*

I went to the Exchange on Oct. 17 with big expectations and no preconceived notions as I had never seen The Sadies play live before. I was thankful they made a stop in Regina to promote their exceptional new album Internal Sounds. True to the title of the event it was an entire evening with The Sadies, and it would be one to remember. The band hailing from Toronto hit the stage after nine and played two equally energized sets to a full house. Faces were grinning, feet were dancing, and the general crowd aged from dewy eyed teens to seniors was not disappointed. The Sadies lived up to their reputation of playing a tremendous live show. They played songs from previous albums, two uniquely done covers, and treated the expectant audience to songs off the new album — and they didn’t disappoint.

The dichotomy created by the Good brothers mesmerizing voices and talent on the strings carried and cradled the rolling sound that is The Sadies. It is a perfect blend of Travis Good’s coiling, serpent-like intensity in contrast to Dallas Good’s tall, dark, and mellow demeanor. The brothers were accompanied by band mates Mike Belitsky and Sean Dean who, when added into the mix, create the perfect formula, and help spread the magic that is The Sadies.

The band has worked with the likes of Andre Williams, Neil Young, and Neko Case (to name a few) and it has helped them hone their craft. The Sadies have a sound unlike any other, so much so that they verge on the creation of their own genre. It is a concoction of twangy country, grunge rock, surf rock, and a pinch of a little something extra — a secret ingredient, and it works. Each new album showcases the evolution of their sound and creative abilities, and leaves one wondering why these guys aren’t getting much more radio spins.

The band that is so tight and captivating while playing has a modest, humble presence when not on stage. These down to earth guys were out and around the venue well before the show started and did not hesitate to converse with hopeful fans. The same was true for after the show, as the musicians enjoyed a beer inside the Exchange and engaged with those who enjoyed their music and music in general. The burning flame that is The Sadies left its mark on Regina, and we can’t wait for them to return. The Sadies nailed it. I left the venue with two vinyls under my arm, and two very satisfied ears on my head.