Thursday, April 23, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 18: The Frenemy Of My Enemy

Lots of returning faces, revelations and double crosses this week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Programs! Getcher programs! Ya can't tell who's betraying who without yer programs!

Last week Marvel announced they were planning a S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series, but didn't provide any details. I was hoping Deathlok might get his own show, but alas, it wasn't to be. This week they finally revealed it'll be a Mockingbird and Hunter spinoff. Hmm. I guess that's OK, but I'd rather to see them do a series about someone with actual superpowers, ala The Flash over on The CW. We've already got one super spy show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe— I don't know that we really need a second.

Funny how Marvel's already had one TV series with a female lead and is planning another, but DC can't seem to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground to save their lives.


The Plot:
Fitz dodges the Real S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who've been pursuing him and meets up with Coulson, Hunter and Deathlok. Fitz hands Fury's Toolbox over to Coulson, who uses it to locate Evil Ward. Coulson, for reasons known only to him and the writers, believes Evil Ward can lead him to Skye. Fitz is understandably not happy about the prospect of this arrangement, considering the whole "Evil Ward tried to kill him and caused his brain damage last season" thing.

With the Toolbox's help they locate Evil Ward and Agent 33 in Tijuana. There, Coulson offers Evil Ward a deal— help S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrate HYDRA. In exchange for this help, Coulson offers to use the T.A.H.I.T.I. program on Evil Ward, wiping his memory and turning him into just plain Ward again. That... doesn't sound like much of a deal, but Evil Ward accepts. With his fingers crossed behind his back, no doubt.

Evil Ward proposes using Bakshi, whom he brainwashed a while back, to get close to Doctor List, one of the new leaders of HYDRA. Bakshi takes Deathlok along, who will monitor the meeting through his bionic eye. Bakshi meets with List and suddenly offers Deathlok to him, which wasn't part of the plan. Coulson and the others suspect Evil Ward is double crossing them (which is a good bet), but he assures them it's all part of the plan.

Meanwhile, Mockingbird and Mack begin to wonder if they're siding with the right S.H.I.E.L.D. May tells Simmons to open Fury's Toolbox, but she admits it's a fake she created, and Fitz has the real one. May doesn't take this news well, which makes us wonder whose side she's on this week.

In Afterlife, Jaiying tells Skye that Cal can no longer stay there, and orders Gordon to teleport him to Milwaukee and dump him there. Skye says that's a really bad idea, fearing Cal will hulk out or whatever he does. She offers to accompany Cal to Milwaukee to soften the blow. Gordon takes the two of them to Miltown & leaves. Skye and Cal have a nice father/daughter outing there— well, as nice a time as you can have with a madman with a hair trigger temper. Unknown to Skye, Lincoln is tailing them.

Skye tells Cal it's time to let go of the past, just as Lincoln shows up. Cal immediately realizes what's happening. Just then HYDRA agents appear, having tracked down Gordon's teleportation energy. Cal takes out his anger on the HYDRA grunts. Deathlok also enters the fray, battling with Lincoln. Coulson, Evil Ward and Agent 33 converge on the building as well, resulting in a three-way shootout. 

Hunter is injured and rescued by Agent 33. Simmons taps into Deathlok's hardware, allowing him to see what he sees— namely Coulson working alongside Evil Ward, which doesn't go over well with May back at Real S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Honest, May! It's not what it looks like!

Skye also sees Coulson and Evil Ward together, right before she and Cal are teleported away by Gordon. Deathlok and Lincoln are captured by HYDRA.

Mockingbird and Mack enter the building and find Coulson there waiting for them as he surrenders.

• There were several namedrops of Baron von Strucker in this episode. He has a part in the upcoming Avengers: Age Of Ultron. It would be awesome if he actually popped up on the show!

• I'm fuzzy on the whole "teaming up with Evil Ward" thing. Last week Coulson said they needed to find Ward because he was the only one who could lead them to Skye. Yet when they find him this week, Coulson coerces him into infiltrating HYDRA. Huh? I guess I'm missing something.

Maybe Coulson is using Ward to get into HYDRA, thinking they know the Inhumans' address?

• I'm also fuzzy as to why Evil Ward and Agent 33 go along with Coulson, to the point of risking their lives to help him. Offering to wipe Ward's memory doesn't seem like much incentive. Agent 33 has even less reason to agree to the plan.

They also both had multiple opportunities to kill Coulson and the others, and yet didn't. Gosh, maybe they're not the evil sociopaths we thought they were after all! I really hope they're not trying to redeem the pair, but it sure looks like that's what's happening. Especially with the whole "wiping Ward's memory" thing. It wouldn't surprise me if he returns to the Team next season with a brand spanking new personality.

• Skye learns her real name is Daisy Johnson, which I thought she found out a long time ago. Maybe I'm thinking of the comic book version of the character.

By the way, when Skye mentions this, Cal says he changed his last name to something more sinister when he went on the run. Please tell me he changed his name to "Hyde."

• Skye's change of heart regarding her dad Cal seems pretty abrupt. Just three or four episodes ago she was ready to kill him on sight; now she's eating ice cream with him. Cal has a certain charm when he's not being crazy, but he's not that charming.

• I get that this is a TV show with a limited budget, but it would be nice to see Cal go through some sort of Hulk-like transformation when he loses control.

• Last week I mentioned the fact that in Season 1, we were beat about the head with the fact that psychic powers do not exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though Raina is apparently a telepath. This week we got a line about her being the first. Someone's paying attention!

• Jaiying orders Gordon to dump Cal in Milwaukee. Skye feels bad about this, and says if they just abandon Cal, he'll hulk out and people will get hurt. Jaiying says those people aren't any of her concern (!). Yikes! Maybe Jaiying's not as nice a person as we've been led to believe.

• May and Simmons seeing the image of Coulson and Evil Ward seemingly working together was definitely an "Oh Crap!" moment. I'm curious to see how Coulson gets out of this painted corner.

Overheard At Work: Hubcaps

I work in a typical office, surrounded by many other workers in cubicles. Although I'm grateful to have a job I like, sometimes the vocal din from the surrounding coworkers is a bit overwhelming. Not to mention odd. Thank the gods old and new for headphones and Pandora.

The following is a 100% true actual conversation I Overheard At Work:
Woman (on phone): "If a hubcap falls off the wheel of my car and I find it, do you think it would be possible to reattach it?"
Oooh, sorry! Unfortunately when that happens it's time to buy a brand new car.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Flash Season 1, Episode 19: Who Is Harrison Wells?

This week on The Flash, Barry and his pals finally catch up with the audience, and discover Dr. Wells' super secret Reverse Flash closet, something we've all known about since the very first episode.

Although this episode was basically all setup for the season finale, it was still highly entertaining, especially the scenes involving Barry's double and Eddie's seemingly hopeless predicament.

Recently I read an interesting fan theory about the show. The Flash has many confusing connections with the 1990s series, specifically the characters of Dr. Tina McGee and the Trickster, along with actor John Wesley Shipp. The two shows clearly aren't part of the same universe though, as obviously this Tina McGee and Trickster aren't the same ones we saw in the 1990 series.

So how to reconcile these connections? One fan theory posits that this new show is an alternate version of the 1990 Flash. Follow me here. In the 1990 series, John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen, a police detective who became the Flash. But what if there was a slightly different version of his universe, one in which he was named Henry Allen, and chose to become a doctor rather than a cop. He then married his wife Nora and they had a son they named Barry.

The Tina McGee in this parallel world became the head of Mercury Labs, and didn't meet the Flash until much, much later. James Jesse became the supervillain known as the Trickster just as he did in the 1990 series, but also didn't meet the Flash until recently.

That's actually a pretty good theory, and neatly explains all these connections with the original series. Until I'm told otherwise, this is the explanation I'm going with. Best of all, if the producers went with this theory, we could have an episode in which the John Wesley Shipp Flash meets the Grant Gustin Flash! Make this happen, guys! Pronto!


The Plot:
Barry, Cisco, Caitlin and Joe meet to discuss what to do about Dr. Wells. Caitlin wants nothing to do with their little lynch mob, as she still believes in Wells and feels their evidence that he's secretly the Reverse Flash is lacking.

Eddie investigates a bank employee who's recorded emptying a vault, even though she was home with her husband at the time. This causes Eddie to believe there may be a metahuman at work, and he calls Barry in to help. Barry discovers the crimes were indeed committed by a shapeshifter who can assume the form of anyone he touches. Barry confronts him, but he escapes by turning into a different person and slipping away.

The STAR Labs Gang determines the shapeshifter's name is Hannibal Bates (!). Barry and Eddie visit his last known address, which turns out to be his grandmother's house. When they arrive to question Grandma Bates, she excuses herself, turns into Bates and escapes out the back door. Dr. Wells warns Barry not to let Bates touch him, because he might be able to duplicate his super speed and discover he's the Flash (which everyone in town already knows anyway). So Barry hangs back while Eddie pursues the shapeshifter. Bates turns into Eddie and shoots two fellow cops in full view of the cruiser's video camera, and then blends into the crowd.

Eddie's then arrested for attempted murder. Barry tries to explain to the D.A. that it was a shapeshifter who actually shot the cops, but naturally she doesn't believe him. Who would? Barry vows to prove Eddie's innocence.

Meanwhile, Joe and Cisco take a drive over to Starling City to visit Captain Lance. They ask for all files pertaining to Harrison Wells, which Lance happily hands over. I guess that's a thing cops do, right? They then ask to see the site of Wells' car accident, that happened fifteen years ago. Cisco examines the scene with his homemade tachyon detector, and they discover a badly decomposed body, that turns out to be the real, original Harrison Wells!

While in Starling City, Cisco is approached by Laurel Lance, who reveals she's really the Black Canary. She asks Cisco if he can soup up her Canary Cry, which he somehow finds the time to do.

A few hours later, Eddie shows up at Barry's house, saying Captain Singh pulled some strings and got him out on parole. Despite the fact that there's a known shapeshifter in Central City, Barry doesn't think Eddie's surprise appearance is the least bit suspicious. Of course it's not Eddie, but Bates, who knocks out Barry and takes on his appearance. Caitlin then arrives and says she know how to stop Bates.

Fake Barry and Caitlin go to STAR Labs, where Caitlin whips up a serum that will suppress Bates' (who she nicknames "Everyman) abilities. Fake Barry is overcome with desire for Caitlin and kisses her, which both surprises and confuses her. Just then Iris shows up, and points out that Eddie's innocent because he's right handed, and the "Eddie" on the surveillance tape shoots the cops with his left hand. Just then Dr. Wells enters and tases Fake Barry for the very same reason— he was obviously left handed.

Iris and Caitlin then take the comatose Fake Barry to the police station (!), but he comes to and escapes. Caitlin goes back to Barry's house and finds him tied up and unconscious. She frees him and they track Bates to the airport. Barry battles Bates, who turns into Caitlin, Iris, Eddie and the Flash. Barry realizes that Bates can mimic his appearance but not his speed, and injects him with Caitlin's serum, knocking him out.

Bates is then seen inside Dr. Wells' super jail, demanding to be let out. When Wells asks who he really is, he morphs into some sort of grotesque, vague form, saying he doesn't remember, which isn't the least bit unsettling.

In the tag scene, Cisco's searching through the STAR Labs blueprints, and finds a room that shouldn't be there. He, Caitlin and Barry investigate and find Dr. Wells' secret room, complete with his Reverse Flash costume and the future newspaper. Ruh-roh!

• Barry runs to Coast City (yet another fictional DC Universe metropolis with a vague location) just to get pizza. While he's there, we see a sign that says "Home Of Ferris Aircraft," which is where Hal Jordan, aka the Green Lantern, used to work.

Speaking of pizza, by the time Barry brings it all the way back from Coast City, shouldn't it be ice cold? Yes, he ran back home "in a flash," but isn't that the problem? Wouldn't holding boxes of pizza while running at hundreds of miles an hour instantly cool them off, like blowing a fan on them? Or does he have some sort of personal force field that protects him and anything he's holding from the effects of running at super speed?

• Everyman's real name is "Hannibal Bates." That's a red flag name if ever I heard one, taken from two of our most famous fictional serial killers. They might as well have called him Killy McStabworthy.

• Bates has actually appeared in the Arrow/Flash universe before— well, sort of. Over on Arrow, Bates' name can be seen on Oliver Queen's hit list!

• There's an issue that crops up in virtually every TV show and movie about shape shifters— clothing. When Bates assumes someone's form, he doesn't just mimic their body, he imitates their clothing as well. The only way this could work is if the clothes are part of his body. That means Bates is naked throughout the entire episode.

• Dr. Wells warns Barry not to let Bates touch him, because if he mimics him he could discover his secret identity. What's the concern at this point? Everyone and their dog already knows Barry's the Flash. Heck, even the Black Canary knows! What'd Barry do, take out an ad?

• Barry, Cisco and Joe try to convince Caitlin that Dr. Wells is bad news, but she refuses to believe them and leaves their meeting in a huff. I thought maybe they were using this issue to set up Caitlin's eventual transformation into Killer Frost, but by the end of the episode she realizes it's true.

• Once again Dr. Wells retires to his all-glass home and walks around in full view of anyone who happens to pass by. He did the same thing earlier in the season in Episode 11, The Sound And The Fury.

I don't know, I just think if I was pretending I needed a wheelchair and didn't want anyone to know I could really walk, I might close the curtains before I got up and stretched my legs.

• Caitlin goes to Dr. Wells' home to question him, but Barry speeds her away in the nick of time. Barry tells her that if she reveals their suspicions to Wells, he'll never be able to get his dad out of prison. Wha....? I'm really not seeing the connection there.

By the way, it's a good thing Barry stopped Caitlin from questioning Dr. Wells. If she'd actually entered his house and said, "This is so silly Dr. Wells, but Barry, Cisco and Joe think you're the Reverse Flash" he would have killed her where she stood.

• When Dr. Wells warns Barry against touching Bates, he asks how he's supposed to catch him. Wells says to "run like a normal person." I bet running "normally" would be really hard for Barry to do.

• For someone who's supposed to be a scientist, Barry can be pretty dense at times. A few hours after Eddie's incarcerated, he shows up at Barry's house with a lame story about being paroled. You'd think that since he's been dealing with a shapeshifter for the whole episode,  Barry might be a little more suspicious of him. Like maybe ask him a question only the real Eddie would know.

In a similar vein, when Barry starts hitting on Caitlin, you'd think a brainy gal like her might suspect she's dealing with a shapeshifting impostor.

• Bates knocks out Barry and then perfectly mimics him by touching his shirt. Um... shouldn't he have to touch Barry's bare skin to do that? Seems like if he touched his shirt he'd just turn into... a shirt.

I guess I shouldn't complain. In the comics, Everyman had to eat parts of his victims (such as hair or fingernails) in order to morph into them! Ew!

• Grant Gustin and Candice Patton pull double duty this week as they play both themselves and Bates imitating them. The scenes between Fake Barry and Caitlin were a lot of fun (if stupid). And it was nice to see Iris get to do something besides whine, even if it wasn't really her.

• Caitlin creates a serum that can suppress Bates' morphing abilities. Wells then incapacitates him with a taser. Iris insists on taking Bates to the police station, which seems like a really bad idea, and of course he ends up escaping.

So... why didn't Caitlin use the serum on him BEFORE they left for the police station? Then even if he woke up he wouldn't have been able to morph.

• A smart move among all the dumb ones this week: When Iris and Caitlin are transporting the unconscious Bates to the police station, he comes to and immediately morphs into a little girl. He/She then begins yelling that she's being kidnapped, which attracts the attention of some nearby construction workers. They converge on the car as Fake Little Girl Bates slips her hand out of her handcuffs and escapes. Brilliant!

By the way, how does Bates mimic someone smaller than him, like a little girl? Does he compress all his tissue until he's three feet high? Uncomfortable!

• Barry confronts Bates at the airport, and the two do battle. Bates touches the Flash and when he morphs into him, realizes he's the Flash. Yep, chalk up yet another person that knows his secret. It must be well over a hundred people that know by now.

• At the scene of Dr. Wells' car accident, Cisco detects a source of tachyon particles. For some reason the stray tachyons cause Captain Lance's coffee to levitate out of his cup. Comic book science!

• Cisco is quite the fast worker. When he first meets Laurel Lance, aka the Black Canary, she asks if he can improve her electronic "Canary Cry." He looks knowingly at the device and says he has a few ideas. He then accompanies Joe and Captain Lance to the scene of Dr. Wells' car crash.

A few hours later they're back at the police station, and Laurel asks Cisco if he's had a chance to work on her device. He unveils a brand new, souped up Canary Call for her. Note that he didn't just tighten a few screws, it looks like a completely different device.

When the hell did he have a chance to build THAT? They were only in Starling City for a few hours, and he spent the whole time with Joe and Lance.

• Laurel's delighted that Cisco could help with her Canary Cry. He replies, "Aw shucks" and says he's recently had practice working with sound waves. Yet another bit of foreshadowing into his eventual debut as Vibe.

• After Bates is captured he's thrown into Dr. Wells' illegal, human rights-violating secret super jail. When Wells asks him who he really is, he turns into some half-formed creepy homunculus and says he doesn't know. OK, I get that, but... why does he have eyes like a baby chick, with a translucent membrane stretched over them? Did he forget what his eyes looked like, so they didn't form?

And why does he turn into Caitlin and try to seduce Barry into letting him go— when Caitlin is standing right there? He can't possibly think that would work, can he?

• When Cisco detects tachyons coming from behind a STAR Labs wall, Barry places his hand on it, and a futuristic doorway opens, revealing Dr. Wells' secret room.

So how does that door work? Can anyone open it by placing their hand on the wall, or does it have to be someone imbued with the Speed Force? Hopefully the latter, or else some day some cleaning woman's going to be wiping down the wall and accidentally discover that Wells is the Reverse Flash.

Little' Caesars'

So yesterday I'm sitting at one of the hundred or so stop lights that lie between my house and work, and I glance over and see a Little Caesars pizza restaurant. As I stared at their bright orange and white sign, it occurred to me for the first time that the logo is missing one important element— an apostrophe!

Sigh... one of the few times an apostrophe is actually needed on a sign, so of course it's not there. It should have one, right? Isn't that supposed to be Little Caesar in the logo, chowing down on a slice of pizza? If so, then it definitely needs an apostrophe, to indicate that the character indeed owns the place. Without the apostrophe the name doesn't make any sense. There's no possession or ownership implied. It might as well say "Wee Emperors."

This surprises me, as this isn't some local Mom & Pop shop that doesn't know from grammar, it's the Number Three pizza chain in the country. You'd think they'd know better.

It's patently obvious at this point in history that the human race will never understand the proper use of apostrophes. A glance at the telephone poles in your neighborhood will tell you that much, as you see one after another festooned with hand-written signs proclaiming "Free Kitten's," "Guitar Lesson's" or "Tomato's For Sale."

Since it seems impossible for the average citizen to understand how to use apostrophes, I propose getting rid of them altogether. Sure it'll make it tough to tell if a word is possessive or not, and contractions will look weird, but think how much time you'll save by not having to press that one extra little key for the rest of your life.

There is another option-- mak'e th'e placemen't o'f apostrophe's befor'e th'e las't lette'r i'n ever'y wor'd mandator'y. Ye's, it'l'l tak'e som'e gettin'g use'd t'o, bu't it'l'l eliminat'e th'e guesswor'k. B'y includn'g on'e i'n EVER'Y wor'd, you'r'e boun'd t'o ge't th'e prope'r placemen't righ't onc'e i'n a' whil'e!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It Came From The Cineplex: Furious 7

Furious 7 was written by Chris Morgan and directed by James Wan.

Morgan is no stranger to the franchise, as he wrote The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6, as well as Wanted and 47 Ronin. Well, at least his work's consistent. 

Wan is best known as a director of horror films, helming Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring and Insidious 2. Insert your own "He's continuing his horror movie streak here" joke.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm probably not the best qualified person to review this film, as I've only seen the first two. You know, back when the series was about street racers, not indestructible supermen who pull heists in flying cars. Hey, maybe a better title for the film would have been Furious 7, Laws Of Physics 0. Eh? Get it? Eh?

I've never been a car guy or racing fan, so I never bothered to see the first film when it came out way back in 2001. By the time the sixth one was released I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about, and started playing catch up. So far I've only made it through the first two. Note to readers— if you're watching a film series, don't go from two directly to seven. You tend to miss out on important info and details that way.

This seventh (!) installment is closer to the Grand Theft Auto V than it is to the first film. Any semblance of reality is long gone at this point, as each successive entry becomes more and more cartoonish and outlandish. Based on the box office returns ($1.52 BILLION as of this review), this is obviously want the public wants to see. Not that there's anything wrong with that! I like watching action movies as much as the next person. I just think it's interesting to see how much the series has changed over the years.

This particular installment is like The Avengers of the Fast & Furious films. They pulled out all the stops, teaming up the stars of the various movies, and bringing in as many minor characters for cameos as possible. The plan must have worked though, as the audience around me was practically vibrating with excitement, gasping in surprise and recognition as each character appeared onscreen.

The big news this time around is the death of actor Paul Walker in 2013, and how that affected the production. Walker had reportedly only completed about half his scenes, so the movie was shut down for several months so the producers could figure out what to do next. They eventually decided to complete the film using archival footage, body doubles and CGI of Walker in order to give his Brian O'Conner character a proper final sendoff.

Walker's death seems to have seeped in to the fabric of the film, as it's downright somber at times. There are at least two scenes set in cemeteries, and lots of talk about going on "one last ride."

Something I did not know until I researched the films for this review: the Fast & Furious timeline isn't linear. Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift (the one that doesn't have Paul Walker or Vin Diesel in it) is the THIRD movie in the series, but it actually takes place right before this film (and yes, before anyone points it out, I know Vin Diesel made a five second cameo at the end of Toyko Drift, but that doesn't count).

The timeline goes:
1. The Fast And The Furious
2. 2 Fast, 2 Furious
3. Fast and Furious (which is actually the fourth movie)
4. Fast 5 (the fifth)
5. Fast & Furious 6 (the sixth)
6. The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (the third)
7. Furious 7

As I'm not a scholar of the series, I have no idea why they're ordered like this. Something really bad must have happened in Tokyo Drift to cause the entire series to go back into time like that.


The Plot:
From what I was able to piece together, in the previous film, Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) and his makeshift family defeated the villainous Owen Shaw (played by Luke Evans), leaving him comatose and on life support, Shaw's older brother Deckard (played by Jasan Statham) visits him in the hospital, and vows revenge against Dom and his gang.

Deckard breaks into the office of Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson), a typical DSS officer who stands 6' 5" and is 300 pounds of solid muscle. Deckard steals info on Dom's gang from Hobbs computer, which doesn't sit well with the hulking public servant. They engage in fisticuffs, and Hobbs is seriously injured when Deckard blows up the office and escapes.

Deckard then starts targeting Dom and his "family." He kills someone named Han, who I'd probably know if I'd seen more than 23% of the films, and blows up Dom's house. He realizes that Deckard is systematically targeting him and his family.

Dom is then approached by Mr. Nobody (played by Kurt Russell), some sort of shadowy government agent. He tells Dom he'll help him bring down Deckard if he'll help him bring down Jakande, a known terrorist. Jakande has kidnapped a hacker named Ramsey, who's invented the God's Eye, a sophisticated surveillance program that can track anyone on Earth. If Dom obtains God's Eye, Mr. Nobody will allow him to use it to locate and kill Deckard. Jesus, was that last sentence written in English?

Dom agrees and assembles his team, including Brian O'Connor, (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej and Roman. Their brilliant plan is to get in their cars and drive out of a cargo plane and land on the convoy transporting Ramsey to Jakande's headquarters. And that's just what happens, in the film's biggest and most elaborate setpiece. They manage to rescue Ramsey, but she tells them she sent God's Eye to a friend in Abu Dhabi for safe keeping. Wah, wahhhhh!

Quicker than you can say "Cut to Abu Dhabi," the gang appears in Abu Dhabi in an effort to pad out the runtime. They manage to recover God's Eye, but not before Dom and Brian drive a car out of one skyscraper and into another, and another. Don't ask.

Dom gives God's Eye to Mr. Nobody, who hands it back to him and tells him to go after Deckard. Yep, you read right— a government agent just handed a pardoned felon the means to spy on everyone in the world.

Dom uses God's Eye to locate Deckard, who's now teamed up with Jakande, setting up the final act of the film. Dom and his gang declare war on Deckard, vowing to eliminate him once and for all so they can retire in peace. There's lots of furious action, furious driving and furious drifting, as the battle causes hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage in downtown L.A. Hobbs even gets up out of his sick bed long enough to take out Jankande and his helicopter with a massive chain gun.

Deckard is captured and imprisoned, and Dom is seemingly killed, but his amnesiac wife Letty brings him back to life with the power of love. The gang then retires to the beach, where they watch CGI footage of Brian frolicking with his family. 

• I'm not going to bother going through every incongruity in the film's ridiculous plot. It's pretty much a live action cartoon, so what's the point? It'd be like nitpicking a Bugs Bunny short. That said, a few things did stand out to me...

• This film definitely could have used a short recap for the benefit of people like me who've not seen the entire series. I had no idea who many of the characters were or what their relationships were to the rest of the cast. Many of the dramatic entrances and callback jokes were completely lost on me.

Note to the filmmakers: Every one of these movies is someone's introduction to the series. You shouldn't automatically assume the entire audience is as well-versed in the mythology as you are. Telling us who were're watching is just good storytelling.

• In the opening scene, Deckard Shaw visits his brother Owen in the hospital. I wonder how much money Luke Evans got to lie in bed and reprise his role for thirty seconds?

• Play the Furious 7 Drinking Game! Every time Dom growls the word "family," take a shot. You'll be dead of alcohol poisoning before the film ends.

• The majority of the movie's dialog consists of interjections like, "Here we go!" "Punch it!" and "Look out!" On the rare occasion when the screenwriters do manage to string more than three words together, the result is downright cringe-worthy. In fact at the end of the film when Dom has seemingly been killed, Brian pounds on his chest and actually says, "Don't you die, damn you!"

More classic dialogue:

Dom: I used to say I live my life a quarter mile at a time.

Letty: Why didn't you tell me we were married?

Dom: You can't tell someone they love you.

Dom: The thing about street fights... the street always wins.

Hobbs: You just earned yourself a dance with the devil, boy.

Letty: Did you bring the cavalry?

Hobbs: Woman, I am the cavalry.

Sean Boswell: If you get the guy who did this to Han, what are you gonna do?

Dom: Words haven't been invented.

• Dom travels to Tokyo to recover the body of Han, a friend (or is that family member?) and fellow racer. Han's full name is listed on his death certificate as Han Seoul-Oh. Get it? Han Solo? Wakka wakka!

I'm hoping the filmmakers realized that Seoul-Oh would be a Korean name, and not Japanese.

• Dom's wife Letty apparently lost her memory at some point in one of the previous films and leaves him, saying she needs to "find herself." Yes, she actually says "find herself."

She shows up an hour or so later with no explanation. So mission accomplished, I guess? She found herself somehow? Late in the film when Dom appears to be dead, she cradles his body and tells him her memory's back and she remember everything. How this miracle was achieved is left to our imaginations.

• Let's talk about fight scenes. This film is chock-full of them, especially for one that's ostensibly about racing cars. They're also all laughably staged, as almost every one of them features a match-up that would be ridiculously lopsided in real life.

First up we have Jason Statham vs. Dwayne Johnson. Somehow Statham wins. Haw! No matter how skilled a fighter Statham might be, the Rock is about twice his size and weight. Johnson could put him down for a nap through sheer bulk alone.

Next up is Michelle Rodriguez vs. Ronda Rousey. As in UFC Champ Ronda Rousey. To expect us to believe that Rodriguez could even land one punch against her is preposterous at best. Rousey would grab her by the feet and spin her around a dozen times before letting go and watching her sail into the next county.

Lastly we have Paul Walker vs. Thai martial artist Tony Jaa. Walker would last about as long in a fight with Jaa as I would. And that ain't very long.

• Dom crashes his car into Deckard's, and the two engage in a knock-down drag-out street brawl. Just then Mr. Nobody and a team of soldiers appear, which allows Deckard to escape. Nobody then tells Dom that he wants him to obtain the God's Eye for him. In exchange for his help, he'll let Dom use it to locate Deckard so he can kill him.

But... but... Dom was fighting Deckard when Nobody intervened! He caused Deckard to escape so he could offer Dom the means to find him! Dom should be furious with him! Make that Furious 7 with him!

• Amazingly, the "car air drop" scene actually dropped real cars out of a real airplane (although no drivers were inside). That an absolute miracle in these days of all-CGI special effects.

• In an effort to pad the second act, the gang goes to Abu Dhabi in search of the God's Eye program. While there, Letty is seen walking around with a lot of skin brazenly uncovered. Nope!

Native women there are required to wear burkas (the full-length black robes that cover everything, including the face) and there are even strict rules governing the clothing foreign tourists can wear. Female tourists don't have to wear burkas (unless they visit a holy place), but they do have to cover everything from their shoulders to just below the knee. Letty would have probably been tossed in fashion jail.

• Dom and Brian escape an angry prince's guards by driving a car out the window of a skyscraper and into an adjoining one (!). As their car crashes through the windows, they smash into an exhibit of Chinese Terracotta Warriors.

Even though the statues were undoubtedly fake, it still made me cringe to see such ancient treasures smashed to bits like that.

• This film definitely needed more Kurt Russell. He's definitely the best actor in the cast (which I will admit is damning him with faint praise), bringing a sorely needed professionalism and cocky charm to the proceedings.

• In the final act, Hobbs is laid up in the hospital with a fractured arm and collarbone. He watches the action unfold on TV and feels the need to join in. He stands up, flexes his mighty bicep and shatters the entire cast off his arm (!). He then swallows a dozen or so pain pills and swaggers off to shoot Jakande out of the sky.

I'm pretty sure none of that would be possible in real life. Oh, you could try it, but you'd probably spend the rest of the day curled in a ball, shaking like a kitten as you vomited in agony.

• Dom has yet another brawl with Deckard on the roof of a parking garage. Jakande hits the building with a missile, causing it to start crumbling. Dom sees the roof start to weaken around Deckard, and stomps a couple times with his mighty foot, causing it to crumble. Deckard seemingly falls to his death hundreds of feet below (don't worry, he gets better-- gotta have a bad guy for Furious 8!).

What's interesting about this scene is that actor Vin Diesel is rumored to be starring in Marvel's upcoming Inhumans movie. What part he's playing, no one knows yet. One of the Inhumans is Gorgon, a satyr-like superhero with hooves, that can cause the earth to split open when he stomps. Was this scene a bit of Inhumans foreshadowing, or just wishful thinking on my part?

• Late in the film the nigh-indestructible Dom has a parking garage dropped on his car, and appears to be dead. Brian begins pumping his chest, and for some reason tells Letty to begin mouth to mouth resuscitation. Why didn't Brian perform both procedures himself?

The only reason I can come up with as to why Brian delegated the mouth to mouth to Letty is because the director didn't think the audience would be able to handle the sight of a man planting his lips on those of another man. Might have made too many audience heads explode, dontcha know.

In the end it doesn't matter, because Letty screeches at Brian to stop pumping on Dom's chest, and she tells him she's regained her memory, telling him about all the good times they've had, which miraculously resurrects him. Screw your old medical science, Brian! Letty uses the Power Of Love to bring Dom back!

• At the end of the film, Hobbs escorts the miraculously still-alive Deckard to some sort of high tech super prison. Deckard tells Hobbs, "You know this won't hold me." Hobbs then says, "After you did through thirty eight feet of concrete and steel, my fist and a body bag will be waiting for you on the other side. Until then, you better start digging."

We then see the door to Deckard's little cell shut. Amazingly, it actually has a narrow window in the center of it! Does that seem like a good idea?

Furious 7 is a preposterous and completely ridiculous film that left its street racing roots far, far behind. It's not great cinema by any means, but it's moderately entertaining, which is apparently what the fans want. It's also a reasonably fitting farewell to the late Paul Walker. I give it a B-.
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