Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here.
This month is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Month here at the JOE-DOWN, where we will review some flicks from The People’s Champ’s filmography.
For this week’s final installment, Brown picked “Furious 7.”
The Movie: “Furious 7”
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, The Rock
Director: James Wan
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for his comatose brother.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81 percent
Brown: In the early days of The Rock, the man could only do so much with a bonkers movie. See: “The Scorpion King.”
But with “Furious 7,” we see The Rock at his zenith as self-proclaimed “Franchise Viagra.”
You watch this movie and I don’t think Viagra was the only drug on set.
So, I watched the first three movies of this franchise. I’m not happy with myself that I saw “Tokyo Drift” in theaters. High school was an up-and-down time for me, man.
Somewhere between what I last saw and THIS?! Ho-ly (REDACTED).
This movie was one part of what I remember about the “Fast and Furious” franchise: Cars, NOS, Corona and family.
The other part… the other part seems like all of Nic Cage’s most (REDACTED) crazy hits.
Without question, this movie was stupid. But good stupid or… well, “Scorpion King” stupid? I had my reservations about what kind of stupid Froemming would gleam from this.
We’ll get to that. But in the meantime, Froemming, did you have any experience with this franchise before our foray into “Furious 7?”
Froemming: I vaguely remember sitting through the first half-hour of the first movie, thought it was stupid and that was where myself and this franchise began and ended.
Until the JOE-DOWN changed all of this.
My first impressions of the movie was “wow, this is the most expensive soap opera I have ever seen.” It’s true, almost all the scenes where there is no explosions are filled with awkward glances, weird chemistry and CGI Paul Walker, which will forever haunt my dreams.
Then there is the fact Vin Diesel’s character speaks entirely in catch phrases. Like, even worse than “I am Groot.” All his lines in this movie are intended for the trailer, I swear it.
And let’s get to the elephant in the room here, Brown. Technically The Rock is in this. Technically.
Brown: Look, my idea was to pick the highest-rated “Fast and Furious” movie on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t follow along with this carbon monoxide-fueled group of … what the hell are they? Like, they’re gear heads, but they’re also mercenaries? Or are they government agents?
Frankly, they’re more of superheroes than The Avengers are. And sadly, The Rock isn’t in a lot of this.
But, he does bookend this SOB, and that works for me. That works for The Rock Month.
Froemming: I have no idea who any of these people were. My memory of the first movie was a bunch of dudes who raced cars. Now they are jet setting across the world driving cars out of airplanes.
Look, I am going to pop on my baby-blue polo shirt and sunglasses, why don’t you kick this off.
Brown: OK, so be forewarned. The Joes are not familiar with the rich lore of the “Fast and Furious” soundtrack.
After getting over the initial shock of this being (to my recollection) our first Jason Statham movie, we are greeted with his character, Deckard Shaw, going full “Dark Knight” Joker on the hospital where his brother Owen is in a coma.
Where the (REDACTED) is THAT movie?!
Froemming: Also, does this movie seriously want me to take Statham seriously as a villain? Seriously? It’s like being afraid if a 19th Century bootblack.
Anyhoo, after the hospital is taken out by a British Stephen Dorff, we head back to the U.S, where Dominic (Diesel) is joyriding through a graveyard with Letty, who is suffering from amnesia?
Again, this is the most expensive and strangest soap opera in history.
Brown: To try and jog Letty’s memory, Dom takes her to something the group invented even before the first movie: Race Wars.
Froemming: Didn’t Hitler invent that? Or Charles Manson? The Alt-Right? Frank Stallone?
Brown: All I kept thinking of is Cartman running up and down the halls screaming about it.
The whole scene at Race Wars (I feel so uncomfortable typing that) was a stark reminder that this movie, as I remembered it, was pure teenage masturbatory material. I think every single female character is introduced on-screen ass first. This may be the least woke series of movies ever.
Froemming: Michael Bay would like a word with you.
Brown: So while Dom, the living, breathing, flesh-colored Q-tip that he is, is trying to jog his girlfriend’s (wife’s?) memory, we see Luke Hobbs (The Rock) doing paperwork at the office.
With that said, paperwork for The Rock involves a lot of unprompted sweating, Under Armour shirts and a beer stein-sized protein shake.
Froemming: WAIT? WHAT’S THAT? BAH GOD, JOE BROWN, IT’S THE ROCK’S MUSIC!
Brown: This is the point in time and the series of movies where The Rock got uncomfortably jacked. The fact his body mass hasn’t been a constant talking point for Mac in “Always Sunny” is really a failure on that show’s writing staff.
After seeing off one of his co-workers, Hobbs returns to the office to see Shaw waiting, ready to start chipping away at the “Fast and Furious” crew.
Froemming: This Brit is as much a threat to this crew as the UK is a threat to the U.S.
QUIT MAKING STATHAM AN ACTION STAR!
Brown: You know we’re going to have to do those “Crank” movies very soon.
And well, let’s put this fight sequence in proper context: The Rock uses a (REDACTED) Rock Bottom!
Also, how much taxpayer money did Obama’s White House waste by giving Hobbs and the Diplomatic Security Service an office of pure glass that was obliterated when a Hulk and a pawn-store Bond had fisticuffs?
Also, Hobbs survives a bomb explosion because of (REDACTED) course he does.
Froemming: Every character in this movie should be dead ten times over by the end.
Brown: Oh, ALL these characters would survive Thanos’ finger snap.
Froemming: Shaw survives and now we are magically whisked away to suburbia, where we get the first dreaded instance of CGI Paul Walker living the domestic life with his wife and daughter. At Brian O’Conner’s house is a box on the porch from Japan. A box that Shaw shipped via U.S. postage that has a (REDACTED) bomb in it.
This was the first instance, but not the last, that in the F&F universe, nothing was learned after 9/11, so no safety measures were ever enacted.
Brown: At the risk of saying something truly tasteless, the collateral damage the crew causes at the climax of the movie in Los Angeles probably has a higher body count than 9/11. The Rock is shooting a mini gun all over LA for God’s sake.
Also, when this bomb goes off, the concussive force is enough to knock Brian’s head into his mini van’s side window and cause it to crack. And he gets, what, a scratch out of it?
We’ll find out later, every character in this movie has Deadpool’s healing property. Not Wolverine’s. Deadpool’s. As far as I’m concerned, they may as well grow back limbs.
Froemming: I found that to be comical. Later when Dom and Shaw are fighting in the mean streets of LA with tools, all Dom gets is a little scratch on the head and Shaw, despite being busted through enough roofs of cars to leave his bones a mix of dust and jelly, has no visible bruises to show he was ever hit in the face by Vin Diesel, a man who suspiciously looks like an eraser come to life.
Brown: Careful. Vin Diesel seems like the type of person that’d sue. Sorry Vin. Besides, we don’t have money. We’re journalists.
After this bomb and seeing Hobbs in the hospital (who makes an off-color comment about liking sponge baths WHILE HIS YOUNG DAUGHTER IS IN THE ROOM), Dom knows that Shaw is a bad, bad man. Also aiding this conclusion is Shaw going to Japan and killing Dom’s friend Han, who was actually in “Tokyo Drift.” But I never remember those characters having such a history that this was an impactful death. Even the lame white dude that was in “Tokyo Drift” makes an appearance to give Dom Han’s effects.
Quick question for you, Froemming: During Han’s funeral back in America, was Dom having a monologue about killing for his fallen friend WHILE the priest was in the middle of his service? What a monster.
Froemming: You’re asking me if I knew that when I had no idea what was happening in this whole movie?
Instead of a monologue, would you have preferred this?
Brown: I mean, it would be in better taste than Dom proclaiming he’s going to kill Shaw no less than 18 inches away from a (REDACTED) priest.
Also, Tyrese and Ludacris are in this movie because LOL.
At the funeral, Dom sees Shaw creeping and chases him down through the streets of LA. This leads to a game of chicken where Shaw wins because he reinforced his chassis. Apparently that’s like bringing weighted gloves to a boxing match, according to Dom. As someone who’s not a car guy, I have no idea what the (REDACTED) Dom is talking about.
Froemming: WHERE ARE THE (REDACTED) COPS IN THIS MOVIE? High-speed chases all through LA, even with helicopters and drones shooting missiles and not one single law enforcement officer to be seen.
Brown: I saw one cop in this movie. At the end. Said cop gets hit with a missile because no one in this group cares about the health of others.
Speaking of health, after this game of chicken with the whole reinforced chassis, Dom walks out of the car, cracks his neck and is fine.
This movie really likes to tip-toe the line of being fun stupid and insulting stupid.
Froemming: Well, if things were confusing and stupid before, the movie doubles-down when Shaw escapes during a fight after this with a shadowy government/organized crime entity lead by Kurt Russell, who plays Mr. Nobody. Which, in another movie might have meant something, but this movie is as deep as an empty children’s pool, so I am guessing that is the character’s real name.
Mr. Nobody wants Batman’s surveillance apparatus from “The Dark Knight,” only here it is called God’s Eye, a fancy doodad (technical term) that uses micro data to track anyone and everyone, like Edward Snowden warned us about.
It just hit me, Brown. This movie should be called “Stupid Heat.”
Brown: I think after the Special Ops folks started dropping down on the Dom/Shaw kerfuffle, that was the first time of many that I broke down, paused the movie, laughed and said “This is so (REDACTED) stupid.”
Making matters even more hilariously dumb was Mr. Nobody having a BUCKET of Corona ready for Dom. Because nothing fuels a man’s lust for revenge like crappy Mexican beer.
Froemming: I like to think Mr. Nobody is Dom’s Hank Scorpio.
Brown: Froemming, I’d like to remind you that this movie made $1.5 BILLION.
At least this was fun dumb. We have watched a lot of dreck for the JOE-DOWN that is not a lot of fun and still as stupid as this movie.
Brown: The next scene is cars being parachuted into Azerbaijan to obtain God’s Eye because (REDACTED) you. Also, according to this movie, Azerbaijan looks exactly like northern Colorado.
The group needs to save Ramsey, the creator of God’s Eye who happens to be a very attractive female they introduce with her butt in a bikini later on.
Froemming: Ramsey seems to have a long, rich history of people wanting her dead.
Brown: Now, a key problem I have with the F&F crew is their insistence that EVERY. SINGLE. THING. They do has to involve high-performance cars that are built for drag racing. Seriously, this was a series that was created due to illegal drag racing. And now Dom is a circumcised penis-looking Capt. America that is freeing Ramsey from a bad guy named Mose.
But because this movie A- and B-plot need to mesh, here’s Shaw on the prowl looking to run Dom off a mountain.
Naturally, NO ONE DIES in this whole action sequence.
Froemming: Nope. And while cornered, Dom gets a goofy look on his face that in hindsight meant he had a plan. At the time, I thought his character was having a stroke.
He spins out the car, raising a cloud of dust everywhere. What does this do? Does it create a diversion so he can sneak away.
No. No it does not. He just drives off a cliff with Ramsey in the passenger seat and through the dumb luck of Forrest Gump, and despite the fact the car is torn to pieces, these two survive a fall that should have killed them dead from the moment they hit the first rock.
Brown: I do enjoy that Dom’s plan for escape is the same that Toonces, the cat who could drive a car, would use.
Froemming: And who is the weirdo bad guy here with the white beard? Was he in another movie? You know what, I don’t care because I have the feeling we will be sitting through all of these at some point.
Now, they need this device thingamajig (technical term) that Ramsey shipped off to a friend in Abu Dhabi. So you know what that means….
We are heading to the sunny desert for fun, excitement and more women in bikinis because this movie knows its audience: 14 year olds.
Brown: Yeah, their next jet-setting trip is to Abu Dhabi. And I made sure to look this up: While not as conservative with women’s wear as other Muslim countries, you should still cover from shoulders down to knees according to this article I found.
Froemming: What is the backward-thinking place? Alabama?
Brown: With that said, naturally, the first shots of Abu Dhabi are of women’s asses in barely-there bikinis.
This movie has the subtlety of a nuclear bomb.
Also, God’s Eye is installed in a car because of (REACTED) course it is.
Froemming: OK, so Ramsey sent this to her friend who thought she wanted to sell it, without knowing what it was. Sure, the friend is a dolt.
Then he sells it to a wealthy prince who wants a flash-drive for his car. An item anyone can pick up at a Target or whatever the Target equivalent is in the Middle East, probably a Walmart. This line of logic for the film was so confusing that I think I missed like ten minutes just trying to piece together this whole flash drive business.
I get having a flash drive for the computer in the car, he probably wants it for porn or something. But why go to a mechanic for a flash drive.
I am thinking way more about this movie than the writers ever did.
So now our team has a new challenge: Break into the tower where the prince has his car hidden away (even the characters thought this was stupid) and retrieve the God’s Eye. But how?
Brown: Yeah, let’s go over the things that happen during this heist attempt.
– Tyrese makes an ass of himself. Not a stretch.
– Letty gets into a fight with female guards, including their leader, Ronda Rousey.
– Ludacris does a poor job hacking the security system.
– Dom DEADLIFTS the front end of an extremely rare car that just-so-happens to be bulletproof so Brian can try and remove God’s Eye from underneath.
And when none of this plan goes quite the way they envisioned AND Shaw shows up to try and blow up everyone…
I can’t do the scene justice. Just let your eyes feast on the mind-blowing stupidity.
Look movie, just because a car is bulletproof doesn’t mean it can withstand wreckage from driving through THREE buildings.
Froemming: I was hoping the buildup to the fight between Letty and Ronda Rousey would have lead us to a 48-second knockout.
Oh, Brown, this movies mocks science and logic more than a Texas public school.
Brown: In fitting with that motif, I bet Brian and Mia didn’t vaccinate their kid.
Well, somehow Brian got God’s Eye and the gang uses it to hunt down Shaw in what looks like the factory Bud and Doyle go to at the end of “Bio-Dome.”
It’s here that the movie utters the dumbest line in this script. When Mr. Nobody tells Dom that the crew needs to eliminate Shaw because he’s such a terror, Dom’s actual words to him are “They racers. They’re not killers.”
Are you (REDACTED) kidding me, movie?! I mean, hell, how many lives were lost in that stunt in Abu Dhabi?! Matthew Broderick would tell you to tone it down with the vehicular manslaughter.
Froemming: Yeah, they are just “racers” like OJ Simpson was just a “football player.”
Brown: Or Ted Bundy was just an “aspiring law student.”
Froemming: Or Joe Brown is just a “sports reporter.”
So they head to this factory in the middle of nowhere, and find Shaw eating his dinner and he is expecting them. Of course he was.
Now, I pointed out Dom speaks in nothing but catchphrases. And here he does that again by talking about family with one-liners and whatnot. You know what, Dom? Just shoot Shaw in the face. He doesn’t need you hear your clever witticisms. Just bang, shoot him dead.
Dom went to the same Dr. Evil School of Terrible Ways to Kill a Character that Jason Newsted did in “The Scorpion King.”
So, while giving his speech, Shaw talks about how he has friends. Those friends are there, another shadowy government/organized crime thing the movie doesn’t bother telling us about and we get a good old fashioned shootout.
Cue the music!
I wished that song played in every fight scene in this movie.
Hell, Mr. Nobody gets in on the action and starts blasting people, which was nice to see Kurt Russell in action again. But then he gets himself shot and Shaw once again escapes, because Europeans are slippery people like that.
Brown: Continuing on without Mr. Nobody and with God’s Eye in Mose’s grasps, the F&F gang comes up with its best idea yet: Endanger the lives of every citizen of Los Angeles for their stupid gang war. You are literally littering your hometown with mercenaries with no regard for human life because you think it gives you a tactical advantage? Can you not go to a desert or somewhere FAR from civilization so you don’t have children killed by drone missiles or stray gunfire?
No. Because this movie has no conscious. Hot potato with Ramsey is somehow their best option. Mostly because it was an idea that Dom was never challenged on.
Every hero in this movie needs life in prison without parole.
Froemming: They thought they would be welcomed as liberators!
So with the bad guys using God’s Eye, they track down the crew, but their plan is to hack into the God’s Eye, which is a serious design flaw on Ramsey’s part. They just need to get within two miles of it and then they can turn the tables.
Problem is that the bad guys are in military helicopters and have drones, which again WHERE IS LAW ENFORCEMENT, THE MILITARY OR THE MEDIA here? Nobody finds missiles being fired in downtown LA suspicious?
Brown: The media DOES report it. And that’s when The Rock makes is glorious return to this movie!
Brown: So while Hobbs was in his hospital bed, with a cast and boot, he was legit watching old Dwayne Johnson football clips from The Rock’s time as a defensive lineman for the University of Miami. I mean, that’s a deep, deep cut to use in a movie that required so few brain cells.
So when Hobbs sees Shaw and Mose tearing up LA, he does what any Hulk would do: Flex his cast off and leave the hospital with a murderous glint in his eye.
This movie is so (REDACTED) delightfully stupid.
Froemming: With the chase on, The Rock free and on his way to help out and Shaw and Dom chasing one another and about to play chicken again, it is time to cue the music!
Now, this game of chicken. It only really works when one side has a sense to not want to die or has the cognitive ability to know what death and pain is.
Neither here have that.
But Dom has his Charger upgraded (maybe?) because it goes on its back tires and looks like when a dog walks on two legs and smashes the top of Shaw’s car.
This movie was written by 10 year olds smashing their toys together.
Brown: Surely you jest when one of the climactic fights is Vin Diesel and Jason Statham are fighting with giant wrenches.
Froemming: I don’t. And don’t call me Shirley.
Brown: Eventually, the parking garage they’re fighting crumbles to the ground when Dom stomps the ground. Shaw and Dom live through all this, by the way.
And after Mose’s drone is destroyed, Hobbs now has a mini gun and becomes Vulcan Raven from “Metal Gear Solid.”
This leads to Dom taking a duffel bag of Shaw’s grenades, throwing them into his car, Dom driving up a makeshift ramp, placing the duffel bag on a helicopter and seeing The Rock shoot the bag to cause a massive explosion.
Only now, after the car crashes does Dom’s life seem in danger. That is, until Letty reveals she now remembers everything and Dom is revived through the power of love and not, you know, the CPR Brian was performing on him.
So. (REDACTED). Stupid.
Froemming: Weirdest soap opera ever.
Now, with LA war torn and all, our heroes head to the beach, where they do that whole family thing Dom keeps bringing up. And we get CGI Paul Walker here, because they needed to end this character’s story. It is very awkward.
Then Dom and Brian race, which IMDb tells me is a call back to their first movie that I barely remember. Back when these wacky kids were just racing souped-up cars, not taking out international terrorists. And we get a montage of Brian from all the movies he was in (all but “Tokyo Drift” I think? I dunno, I don’t know much about these movies).
Brown: You really don’t need to. I thought it was kind of a touching tribute. But this movie doesn’t get helped by Brian surviving all these crashes only to be reminded of Paul Walker’s actual mortality.
I’m out of Corona so unless you got anything to add, let’s go to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Oh hell yes. I don’t feel like we scratched the surface of this whole movie. It’s incredibly dumb, but I had a fantastic time killing brain cells.
Froemming: It’s a fun watch. I had no idea what was going on the whole time. If you are looking for a dumb action movie, this is it.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: