The Hangover Part III (2013), directed by Todd Phillips
Fast & Furious 6 (2013), directed by Justin Lin
Well folks, this is my first Double-Shot Tuesday in a while, but seeing as how the Hollywood machine is cranking out the summer blockbusters right now I knew it was time.
Sometimes you try to walk away, but something draws you back in, you know?
We started out with a bang with Iron Man 3 and the people who like that sort of thing sure seem to be digging Star Trek Into Darkness (which I haven’t seen), so things have been going swimmingly, no?
Time to hit the brakes, in other words.
Just in time to spoil the party is The Hangover Part III, which is easily the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if it manages to hold that title clear through ’til Christmas.
No great fan of the second outing (okay, I thought it was pathetic), I hoped for this pleaseGod finale the crew might be able to return to some of the bombastic heights that made the original movie one of the best comedies in recent memories.
No such luck.
It seems that somewhere along the way everyone involved with these films forgot they were supposed to be making a comedy. While it was sweet relief to see Phillips and co. move away from the been there, done that format of the first sequel, what this film gains in originality it quickly ruins with a dull plot and a shocking lack of humour.
I think the audience I was with collectively shared one giggle throughout the entire film.
Instead of, you know, jokes, funny situations etc. Hangover 3 instead goes for the dark action which the other two films merely touched on. Gone are the days of partying, instead the Wolf Pack needs to steal gold to stop a drug dealer (John Goodman) from murdering the perpetual odd man out, Doug. Hilarious.
If the decapitation of a giraffe, effeminate men and a Chinese man swearing are the heights of comedy in your eyes, you might just have a good time. Otherwise, steer clear.
And then steer yourself into a screening of Fast & Furious 6. It’s a car joke.
Anytime someone makes a “what did you expect? An Oscar winner?” type comment while you’re expressing disappointment over a blockbuster action movie, kindly direct their misguided attention to the Fast & Furious series.
Because here we have a franchise which has gone on longer than any self-respecting franchise should, which stages some of the most ridiculous, impossible stunts we’ve ever seen on the screen, which harps on stock characters and motto-ridden dialogue and hasn’t had an original bone in its body since the first outing.
And it’s still fantastic.
Because despite all that Justin Lin and his crew still know how to have a good time, still know how to direct competent, thrilling action sequences and still put the peddle to the metal in every outing. The Furious films, especially the last two, avoid the laziness we see in other long-extended franchises such as Die Hard, and six films in still manage to elicit that excitement and wonder you aim for in a summer movie audience.
Not only that, the audience laughed pretty much 400 per cent more for Fast & Furious than it did for Hangover 3.
Fast & Furious delivers what it promises, which in my mind is about the greatest compliment you can pay to a summer blockbuster action film. When people who actually like and respect action movies complain about the Die Hard 5s and Michael Bay movies of the world it isn’t because we don’t know how to have a good time, it’s precisely because we do know how to have a good time, and can tell it apart from lazily produced, incompetently directed rubbish.
Nobody expects or even wants the Citizen Kane of action movies when they go to see a summer flick, so quit being reverse-snobs, y’all. What we do want is to be entertained and not force-fed the lowest common denominator.
I like how Fast 6 is even willing to settle for something to boost its strengths. Take Gina Carano. Her acting fit the understated tone of Haywire, but sticks out like a sore thumb here. Her lines are flat and she has a total of two facial expressions (confident and cocky).
But as soon as she starts fighting, I couldn’t have cared less. Because she kicks ass. Her hand-to-hand fights with Michelle Rodriguez are easily some of the best moments of the film and she is simply thrilling to watch. So, fair trade.
I’m even willing to give it a pass for the amnesia plot line. And that says a lot.
It’s this keen understanding of action which makes the film. For all its breaking of the laws of physics, its stock characters, its ridiculous dialogue (does Dom ever answer any question not in motto format?), it’s still one of the best movies in theatres right now, because it’s fun, fast and fundamentally functional.
Oh, and for all you rush the doors as soon as the credits start type people, stick around, because there is a coda which has me unreasonably excited for the seventh outing. Trust.
Ride or die.
The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 are in cinemas now.