The young women - in their late twenties but acting ten years younger - are abducted by some swarthy men. These kidnappers do not want a ransom. They are almost perfectly designed as acombination of groups that American audiences would find the most easy to hate. Right-wingers hate them for being Albanian muslims, while left-wingers hate them for being sex-traffickers.
The mild-mannered Brian Mills turns out to be as brutal as Jack Bauer in 24. He tears Paris apart, torturing and murdering anyone who gets in his way. There is not much technology used, because this genre of film relies on tropes from the 1970s.
This film made Neeson, a renowned dramatic actor, into an action movie star. Ironically he was in his mid-50s at the time, an age when most action stars have retired or joined The Expendables .
Of all the places to go for work, Brian accepts an assignment in Istanbul, Turkey. Since it is an Islamic country close to Albania, he has put himself at severe risk of reprisals. By incredible coincidence, the ex-wife ( Famke Janssen ) is now having marital problems with her new husband. Brian tells her to bring their daughter ( Maggie Grace ) to join him for a short stay after he has finished the contract as a bodyguard. After all, actions never have consequences.
The Albanian gang, led by the father of the first movie's villain (Rade Serbedzija - The Saint ), abducts Brian and his ex-wife. Brian gets the daughter to locate him by throwing hand-grenades into parking lots. This works because the sound wave travels at one kilometre per second, so he can roughly triangulate his position. Luckily the police do not actually take an interest in this kind of thing. Yes, this movie is not as well thought-out as it pretends to be.
The action scenes include a foot-chase along the rooftops. This is a bit of a let-down because it was actually done better the year before in The International. There are lots of fight scenes and shoot-outs, but nothing that was not done better in the original. The Albanians are just anonymous goons who exist merely to be slaughtered. The fact that this attitude to peoples lives in the first movie is what got the revenge plot started is only given lip-service at the end.
Brian Mills (Liam Neeson - SW: Phantom Menace ) gets framed for murder, even though he has an easily-verified alibi and there is no physical evidence against him beyond the circumstantial. Does he tell the detective (Forest Whittaker - Species )? Does he get a lawyer? No, he goes on the run and tries to solve the case himself!
Brian’s multiple escapes from the police include a car chase on a freeway, which creates several pile-ups. This is all dumbed down to look cartoonish. Nobody is shown to get hurt, while in reality there would have been several civilian fatalities. And worst of all, his superpowers now seem to include teleportation because he can move instantaneously from the site of a potential explosion to a safe distance away.
Instead of his wife or daughter getting taken, this time they BOTH get taken. And instead of some Albanian pimps, the villains are a Russian mafia gang composed of ex-Speznaz. Luckily the industrialist is around to explain what Speznaz is, in case Brian and his CIA buddy Leland Orser ( Alien: Resurrection ) do not know.
The only person who will help the protagonist is a cab-driver ( Diane Kruger ). In fact, she is more of an action-hero character than he is. This movie comes across as a buddy-buddy action movie, without the wisecracks of course, since Kruger is a fighter instead of a love interest. This is just as well, since Neeson discovers a couple of murderous hitmen are after him.
An old friend (Frank Langella - Dracula (1979) ) flies into town in order to help. What could possibly go wrong?
This is set in Germany, made by a European conglomerate, and has the feel of a Luc Besson movie. The director, presumably Besson's protege, has worked with Neeson on several thriller movies. A pity they did not give this more of a Total Recall vibe, and make the Neeson character more competent. Instead he is practically a Cary Grant character on one of Hitchcock's comedic romps.
The main story takes place in 1999. Yes, this is a period piece set ten years before it was filmed - like Shampoo (1976). The villains use pay-phones and audio cassettes. Sutter uses a microphiche reader in the library, and has to be taught how to use the internet. The search engine of choice is Yahoo, and the Y2K bug is just around the corner. In other words, the changes that took place in the time it took from the script being written until the film was released are very noticeable.
Sutter, now an unlicensed Private Eye, is hired by Kenny (Dan Gordon - Legion ) - another American played by a British actor. Kenny's wife was kidnapped and murdered. Sutter reluctantly accepts the job - not for the money, but because of his deep-seated belief in justice.
This is a grim police procedural, although not as grim as the usual Rape and Revenge fare that is quite common in the Horror genre. This slow-moving suspense aspect seems to go hand-in-hand with the relatively low level of technology involved, because faster technology enables a faster pace in story-telling.
This is a 21st-Century action thriller - okay, more of a Whodunit than a shoot-em-up. It is PG-13, so there is no swearing. Except on a text-phone, where the offending word is conveniently concealed under a vertical crack in the phone's screen.
This is a very 1970s thriller, like many of the current crop of action movies. With the exception of the TV show 24, none of them seem to have increased their pacing to take into account the speed of modern communications. The cellular phone, used almost as a gimmick in The X-Files ), is now standard across the English-speaking world and yet barely acknowledged in thriller movies.
The protagonist is an ex-cop (Liam Neeson - Star Wars: TPM ), down on his luck and in need of the cash. Neeson has done a few of those type of character lately - presumably it is the best kind of role available for a middle-aged action star.
While the original was a sci-fi time-travel story, this is a more mundane crime thriller. The controller is a villain, while the target is a witness under police protection.
When the driver's twenty-something son is killed by a drug dealer named Speedo (Michael Eklund - The Divide ), the father goes on a murderous revenge spree. Everyone involved, from the lowest dealer to the man in charge, is targeted for murder by the bloodthirsty killer. Town police-woman Kim Dash ( Emmy Rossum ) is confused, and her boss John Gipiky (John Doman - ) would rather just decriminalise drugs to get rid of the violence.
Part of the problem with this movie is the fact its tone is incredibly uneven. It starts as an incredibly downbeat film, because the protagonist's son is dead and his wife Grace ( Laura Dern ) cannot handle it. Our hero contemplates suicide, like in The Grey . Later, the movie is overrun by quirky post- Tarantino gangsters with cool-sounding nick-names like in Smoking Aces . This reviewer had to check the credits to make sure this was not written or directed by Joe Carnahan , because he was responsible for both those films. Instead it was by a European director, adapted from his original. Perhaps that should explain the awkward tone shift.
Our hero, Travis Block (Liam Neeson - Star Wars: TPM ), specialises in extracting undercover agents whose covers have been blown - like Schwartzenegger in Eraser (1996) . His boss, FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn - ), is a reactionary asshole - so it is small wonder that a tweenage agent named Dusty snaps and decides to expose their operations to the press.
A regular conspiracy thriller would have the audience in the dark, and they should slowly work out the conspiracy's details as the protagonist himself uncovers them. In contrast, the villains and their plan are pretty much laid out from the beginning. In other words, this is more of a straight-up action movie.
To give the protagonist more depth, he has a daughter and grandaughter. Not only do they allow him to show a more sensitive side, but as the plot speeds up they can become damsels in distress.
There is also a subplot concerning a journalist who starts to investigate the conspiracy. Since the audience already know everything, there is no actual suspense. Also, because she is an African-American and there is a massive age gap there is no way she can be Neeson's love interest. In other words, her whole subplot is just tacked on and pointless.
Lauren Cohan is a television reporter working for Billionaire Mr Weyland (Ving Rhames - Surrogates ). Weyland has a huge portfolio, including a TV network and the US Prison system. He may even be related to one of the founders of the Mega-Corp from the Alien series. Anyway, Cohan invents the idea of maximizing TV ratings by turning prison riots into a live, televised spectator sport. This is developed into the Death Race, and when Goss ends up in prison he quickly becomes the top competitor.
Weyland Corp may have the contract to run the prison, but they no longer run the Death Race. It was resurrected by a couple of survivors from the original team. The nerdy guy is the inside man, streaming the race live on the dark web, while Danny Trejo ( From Dusk Til Dawn ) handles the book-making on the outside. Their new boss is Baltimore Bob (Danny Glover - Age Of Dragons ).
Weyland's prison governor sends his SWAT team in to get Frankenstein. Unfortunately they walk right into an ambush. Frankenstein has upped the ante for control of the prison, so he ought to expect further retaliation.
The very next day there is an influx of new prisoners. One is an oriental woman with martial arts skills. Another is Zach Magowan ( Black Sails ), a mystery man who is an indestructible killing machine.
The newcomers sign up for the next session of Death race. There are various different tests, including motorbike racing and melee combat. These are to the death, which may seem extreme but the prison has a limited food supply so they need to keep the population down.
The race is more perilous than usual. Our hero has to take a short-cut to catch up, but this means jumping a 200-foot canyon. His car can theoretically go up to 220MPH, but he never thinks to lighten the load by dumping the tombstone.
Stallone leads a rag-tag mix of mercenaries, from fellow 1980s star Dolph Lundgren ( Universal Soldier ) to more recent action heroes Jason Statham ( Ghosts of Mars ), Jet Li ( The One ) and token black guy Terry Crews. When not hanging out in the tattoo parlour of Mickey Rourke ( Iron Man 2 ) they kill Somali fishermen on behalf of a MegaCorp.
CIA goon Bruce Willis ( Surrogates ) hires the Mercs to assassinate a Latin American dictator (the Cuban cop in Dexter). The real target is the dictator's backer, drug baron Eric Roberts ( Dr Who TV Movie ). In order to defeat the villains and save the predictable damsel in distress, the unstoppable crew must kill every man in the town between the ages of 15 and 50. No problems there.
Among other things, this completely fails the Bechdel test. The only other proper female character is Charisma Carpenter , who is Statham's love interest long enough to give him an excuse to beat up a wife-beater.
Basically, the film staggers from one unbelievably OTT action scene to the next one. There is no suspense, we know EXACTLY what is going to happen at every step. That said, nobody really cares. If you liked the most recent Rambo film, you will love this!
The roster gets a shake-up this time. Stallone and Statham are still in charge, supported by Lungren, Couture and Crews. Jet Li and Liam Hemsworth ( Triangle (2009) ) both get a look-in, while the team also gets a token girl. Strangely, she is the only one who is a newcomer - an irony that while the men are all aged over fifty (except Hemsworth), the girl is in her twenties.
One thing that is remarkable is the lack of swearing. Apparently the film was meant to be a PG-12, so it was dumbed down for family audiences. The word is that thanks to a backlash by fans, Stallone was forced to put in extra scenes of ultra-violence. However, despite the on-screen decapitations the dialogue is still child-friendly so Yanks can take their kiddies to see it.
Stallone retires his old team, even though they did great work in the previous two movies. The second act of the film is Stallone recruiting a new team (with help from Kelsey Grammer – Transformers 4 ). This includes relative newcomer Kellan Lutz ( Legend of Hercules ) and the first woman Expendable – Ronda Rousey (a slightly younger version of Gina Carano ). They are more hi-tech than the old mob, using 21st Century hacking techniques to bring this up-to-date with modern techno-thrillers. Of course, it all goes wrong so there is a cliffhanger at the end of the Second Act.
Finally, the climactic third act features Stallone pulling his old buddies out of retirement. This is just as well for Statham, because Charisma Carpenter is nowhere in sight this time. The CIA get directly involved again, with Bruce Willis’ replacement (a foul-mouthed Harrison Ford – Ender’s Game ) arriving with more goons – Arnie Schwartzenegger and Jet Li!
The place is run by Jim Caviezel ( Passion of the Christ ), a vicious SOB who has used Stallone's textbook to construct an apparently escape-proof prison. The head guard is Vinny Jones ( Swordfish ), while the Medical officer is Sam Neill ( Omen III ). Yes, Christ and Damien Thorne are on the same side for once!
Luckily, while on the inside, Stallone is befriended by his co-star from The Expendables series, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Chinese minion does some work on the side as bodyguard for his tech-billionaire cousin. Unfortunately a Geneva-based multinational company wants the secrets of the cousin's patented tecnhologies. The cousin and the minion are kidnapped, and end up in a super-secret prison codenamed Hades.
The villains's motivation seems confused. They were hired to get the cousin to reveal his secrets. However, it seems they also have a grudge against Breslin because he humiliated them when he broke out of their first super-prison in the first movie.
What is Breslin's motivation for getting involved? Well, his former partner Clark (Vincent D'Onfrio - Men in Black ) was in business with the kidnapped woman's father, so it would make sense for the father to hire Breslin's team. No need, since the villain is Clark's son (Devon Sawa - Final Destination ) and he wants revenge on Breslin. He even abducts one of the good guys, so the story becomes even more of a damsel-in-distress cliche.
The hostages are taken to a prison in the former Soviet Union. Oh, behind the bad old Iron Curtain? No, this is in Latvia - one of the Baltic Republics, a member of the European Union and the NATO alliance. Since the prison is in use as an illegal Black Site, the unstated truth must be that the CIA is somehow involved.
The original was tense thriller that relied on the hero's ability to outsmart the villains. This effort is a grim and gritty revenge movie. The heavy emphasis on a Chinese cast implies it is a cynical attempt to market the franchise to China.
Our hero is actually an undercover FBI Agent. He pretends to be a member of a popular semi-legal extreme sports sub-culture in order to track down an infiltrate a group of highly successful robbers. If this sounds familiar, that is because it was the plot for Point Break.
The original story had a subplot involving a rival gang. Instead of Surf Nazis, this time the bad guys are Chinese Tong bikers led by Rick Yune ( Die Another Day ) and his henchman (Reggie Lee - Grimm ).
It is amazing to think what this movie has spawned. Perhaps it is the mix of a top-notch cast and some well-shot car-chase scenes that puts this above the average action film. Basically it is a Point Break remake that created a franchise the equivalent of a big-budget Sharknado series. The only thing that slowed it was Vin Diesel's refusal to do sequels, which resulted in his absence from the second two films in this series - just as he skipped out on XXX 2 .
Brian gets busted by local cop James Remar ( ). With the intervention of his old boss (Thom Barry - ), they recruit him to go undercover again. He agrees, but insists that his partner is his old buddy Rome (Tyrese Gibson - Legion (2010) ).
The cops already have an inside woman - Eva Mendes . Naturally, she becomes David's love interest. However, they do not know if they can trust her. Her boss (Cole Hauser - Olympus Has Fallen (2013) ) is the main target, a narcotics importer who wants the drivers to move his cash for him. He is a sadistic narcissist, but she has ingratiated herself with him well enough. Basically she fills the role of a traditional femme fatale, although this lacks the trappings of a film noir. Will she be a villainess or a damsel in distress?
This is in many ways a basic rehash of the original film. Since this was made at a time when Vin Diesel refused to do sequels, which also explains his absense from XXX 2: State of the Union , so Gibson's character was created as a stand-in for Dom Turetto. At least this part of Brian's back-story works, because it explains why he was so happy to let Dom escape.
The climactic car stunt is so OTT it gets referred to on-screen as some real Dukes of Hazzard shit. Ironically it was later parodied in the Starsky and Hutch movie.
The protagonist's flaw is that he keeps flirting with a bad guy's girl. Even in Tokyo this is still the case, when he befriends the villain's mixed-race girlfriend Nathalie Kelly .
This is set about ten years after it was made. However, Tokyo looks incredibly high-tech to Western eyes. When the hero and the love interest go on a date, the restuarant they eat at is basically a set of tables surrounded by vending machines. Yes, the high labour costs in Japan have incentivised complete automation of the food service industry. This is basically one step away from using robots to prepare all the food.
How does this fit in with the other films in the franchise? Well, Dominic Turetto (Vin Diesel - XXX ) appears at the end to establish himself as a friend of Han's. In fact, Han pops up at the start of the next film as a member of Dom's crew. It is later established that this film takes place immediately after the events of Fast And the Furious 6 (2013) .
Letty is reported killed in a RTA in California. Brian (Paul Walker - Pleasantville ) got his job back at the FBI, and was running her as an informant in a drug-smuggling cartel. Now he goes undercover himself. Dominic does the same thing, and they have to work together again.
Brian finally gets a scene with Mia ( Jordana Brewster ), five years after he dumped her and left town.
The drug cartel is run by a mystery man. Security is provided by Gal Gadot , who takes a shine to Dom for some reason. He is technically single, but still grieving for Letty.
The climax happens after the FBI operation fails, and Brian is predictably suspended from his job. He and Dom have to go it alone, as all good heroes do. The problem is that although this franchise is known for its car chases and stunt driving, this time the climactic chase looks like a CGI cartoon. As a result, it is difficult to care about the characters or the outcome.
Our heroes go south of the Brandt line, and end up in Rio. Well, it was good enough for The Incredible Hulk . Anyway, they are low on cash so they take some local work. They have to steal some cars ... from a moving train.
The robbery plan seems good, but some things have been left out. The client did not mention that the cars had been impounded by the DEA. Dom decides to break with the plan in case of a double-cross, and things go downhill from there.
Like all great film noirs, the story is about a robbery gone wrong. Our heroes are implicated in the death of some DEA Agents. The USA sends in their best man - Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson - Welcome To The Jungle (2013) ). He recruits a translator ( Elsa Pataky ), and starts on our heroes' trail. His agenda is the same as Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (1993), in that he will arrest a suspect he knows to be innocent. His team have automatic weapons, and will spray and pray rather than arrest suspects. Basically they view Rio as a free fire zone.
The local drug kingpin is looking to expand his operation. Well, after the heroes took out his Mexican competitor in the previous film there is certainly a gap in the market up north. He has a massive fortune in cash, stored at a series of stash houses across the city. The good guys decide to kill two birds with one stone - they can get rich and get revenge at the same time by stealing his cash.
The heist of the century needs the ultimate team. They pull in Han from Tokyo Drift , Tyrese and Ludacris from 2 Fast 2 Furious , and Gal Gadot the weapons specialist from Fast And Furious . With Brian now the token white man, the casting has been achieved naturally and without forced diversity. All the writers needed to do in order to create this team was gather the supporting characters from the previous films.
The heist plot keeps our heroes pro-active, and the Hobbs storyline is just a subplot. Naturally the subplot gets wrapped up, and Hobbs becomes one of the good guys.
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnston - Journey 2 ) and his new sidekick ( Gina Carano ) are after the best hijacker in the world. Dom and his team are retired - but Hobbs has been keeping track of them, and pulls them out of retirement in order to catch the usurpers.
Dom gets his team back together, including Gal Gadot . She teams up with Carano, which is interesting in a couple of ways. Firstly, it means this film is close to passing the Bechdel test. Secondly, the two women were rivals for the role of Wonder Woman (2017) - and their scenes together here allow the audience to compare them.
The good guys no longer care about money. Their goal is far more chivalric - they want to save their friend Letty ( Michelle Rodriguez ), who was supposedly killed in the fourth movie. It turns out that the villain in that film was working for this movie's antagonist, who recruited her and faked her death. The reason she went along with it is due to traumatic amnesia.
The antagonist is an Englishman named Shaw (Luke Evans - Dracula Untold ), former leader of the SAS mobility troop during the invasion of Iraq. Not only does his crew have military training, they also have specialist vehicles. This is far above what Dom and the rest of his crew were doing in the first movie.
The main story involves Shaw (Jason Statham - ) and his revenge plot The problem is that the tone is now a bit too dark for a mainstream blockbuster. The straightforward plot gets a lot more complicated.
A US Government official codenamed Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell - Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 ) offers Dom a deal - get Shaw's attention by stealing something he wants. First they must rescue a computer programmer ( Nathalie Emmanuel ) while in transit. This sequence has a few references to The Italian Job (1969) . For example, they use a multi-coloured set of cars - and there is a scene where a bus ends up balanced on the edge of a cliff
The action moves to Dubai, where our heroes have to steal a super-car from a penthouse apartment guarded by Ronda Rousey . This allows Letty something to do. last time she faced off against another female wrestler, Gina Carano . This is really a step up from the cat-fights of the 1960s.
The third act moves the action back to Los Angeles. A secondary antagonist (Djimon Houson - Guardians Of The Galaxy ) has to be defeated too.
This is the last film to feature Paul Walker. He died in real life, in a car crash - as a passenger of a friend, not driving himself. An ironic end indeed, considering that the series which made him famous has the most blatant don't try this at home, kids disclaimer since the .Nicholas Hammond TV show Spider-Man (1978) . But at least this movie gives him a proper send-off.
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnston - Journey 2 ) gets the blame for Dom's defection. He gets a burn notice, and ends up in prison with previous villain Shaw (Jason Statham - The Mechanic ). Mister Nobody (Kurt Russell - The Thing (1982) ) gets them both out, but now they must work together. Nobody's sidekick Mister Nothing (Scott Eastwood - Texas Chainsaw 3D ) starts as a whiny pencil-pusher but later becomes the team's token white guy, replacing the Paul Walker character (who has gotten his happy ending with Dom's sister). The result is a formulaic live-action cartoon that glamourises all kinds of car stunts, which is ironic because one of the main actors of the series died in a car crash.
The trailer gives away everything and nothing. Basically the whole movie is two and a half hours worth of car chases, while the trailer is only two and a half minutes of the same. The street-racers use their super-cars to fight a submarine at the north pole. What is next - Fast and Furious in Space?
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnston - Journey 2 ) gets recruited by CIA Agent Locke (Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool ) to recover the stolen virus. Shaw (Jason Statham - The Mechanic ) is also roped in by the CIA. After all, Hattie the MI5 agent is his estranged sister. According to the flashbacks of their childhood they are meant to be about the same age, but Statham is twenty years older than she is!
The story introduces a lot of familiar faces. Shaw's mother ( Helen Mirren ) was introduced in the previous film, but now there are a few more characters in this universe. Kevin Hart (The Rock's co-star from two Jumanji films) makes an uncredited cameo as an air marshal. Madame M ( Eiza Gonzalez ), a former lover of Shaws, helps the good guys - as does a timid scientist, Professor Andrenko (Eddie Marsan - Hancock ). However, the most impressive new character is Brixton the villain. He is a cyborg with a mechanical spinal column, which allows him to bounce back like Wylie E. Coyote, and Idris Elba loves to chew the scenery. Unfortunately he is lumbered with a cliched backstory - he is Shaw's former partner, with a personal grudge. That said, he is under orders from a mysterious controller ... possibly NOT Cypher ( Charlize Theron ), the mysterious arch-villain of the main franchise.
After almost ninety minutes, the story could be happily concluded. However, like a movie in the James Bond franchise it gets dragged out for an extra half-hour so they can squeeze in more action scenes. Since the theme of the movie is Family, Hobbs takes the Shaw siblings to meet his relatives on Samoa. After all, it is off the grid - and they need the help of his estranged brother Jonah (Cliff Curtis - Fear The Walking Dead ). Remember, Hobbs and Shaw are working for the CIA so the whole stay-off-the-grid thing is just made up
The after-credits sequences make the most of Ryan Reynolds and his ability to motor-mouth about violent acts.
The villain turns out to be Dom's hitherto-unmentioned brother Jacob (John Cena - Bumblebee ). This family reunion is a good excuse for Mia ( Jordana Brewster ) to come out of retirement too. Presumably Brian (Paul Walker - Pleasantville ) is left at home to look after the children. The feud between Dom and Jacob is central to the story. There are a few flashbacks to their childhood, with a friendly mechanic (Michael Rooker - Guardians Of The Galaxy ) who worked on their dad's pit crew. Of course, since the Franchise's there is Family it is inevitable that the brothers will work out their differences somehow. That makes this movie uncomfortable viewing, insofar as the fact that any antagonist without the surname Turretto is bound to meet the most horrible death that this movie's PG-13 rating will allow.
As with Moonraker , this franchise has gone on for so long that the only logical step is to take it into outer space. Luckily Sean (Lucas Black - American Gothic ) and his new crew have a rocket-powered car that fits the bill.
Harry's son (Ben Foster - Pandorum ) is a loose cannon in search of a purpose in life. Arthur takes the young man under his wing, and trains him as an assassin. So far, so much like the original.
While the original movie relied on a certain amount of subtlety, this one ups the ante and has a lot more shoot-outs and explosions. Where the original would use a glass of poisoned water, this version has a massive fireball. However, this is not a heroic shoot-em-up. Just like the 1970s original, it is a gritty revenge thriller. Foster delivers an amazing performance, as per usual, and is a fitting foil for Statham.
The action starts with Bishop (Jason Statham) on the run after the events of the previous film. He has headed south of the Brandt line, to Rio in Brazil. This makes for the best action scenes set there since James Bond visited in Moonraker .
Bishop then hides out in Thailand with Michelle Yeoh , where he lies low on a remote beach. Jessica Alba blunders into his life, and he is subjected to a blatant ham-fisted seduction. Even Bishop realises it is a setup, but he falls for her anyway. Then she is kidnapped and used for leverage.
The villain's plan is for Bishop to conduct a series of assassinations. The trick is that he must make them look like accidents. Apparently this is Bishop's speciality, as a thinker and not a muscle-man. However, Bishop is also a one-man army who can take out an entire army of bodyguards single-handedly.
The first two victims on the hit-list are generic bad-guys. However, the third and final one is Tommy Lee Jones ( Under Siege (1992) ) who seems to have wandered in from a better film.
This is a generic by-the-numbers Statham shoot-em-up. There are a couple of potentially good ideas in this film. One is the casting of Alba, who was an action star in her own right in Dark Angel . Unfortunately, despite showing off a bit of martial arts skill she was basically cast purely because she looks good in a bikini. The other piece of wasted potential is the villain himself. His backstory is that he and Bishop were raised together as child soldiers. Despite being the old cliche of the personal grudge, this also sets the villain up as being Bishop's equal and thus a potentially worthy and memorable adversary.
The ending has a couple of twists in it. Pretty standard stuff, though.
The second act is a farce, as the bumbling burglars fool around in the most amateurish way. Dave Shilling (Daniel Mays - ), for example, is a famous porn-star who orders takeway food delivered to the site of the robbery ... under his own name. Small surprise that, while this is supposedly based on true events, it was written by British 1980s sitcom creators Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais .
The third act descends into horrendous grimness, which is at odds with the comedy of the second act. Leather and his gang have access to several boxes of blackmail material. The villains, such as porn baron Lew Vogel (David Suchet - ) and corrupt cop Nick Barton (Craig Fairbrass - ) will torture and murder anyone they get their hands on so that they can recover the blackmail documents.
A serial killer (Aidan Gillen - Game of Thrones ) is killing police officers in that precinct.
The child in question is a Chinese girl who is in the clutches of a Chinatown gangster (James Hong - Big Trouble In Little China ) and his murderous henchman (Reggie Lee - Grimm ). Because she is valuable, she is also hunted by the Russian Mafia. Yes, both sides in this gang war are foreign immigrants - the USA apparently has no gangsters of its own.
The third side is a team of corrupt police detectives commanded by Robert John Burke, who plays similar roles in TV shows like Law and Order: SVU. He works for the corrupt Mayor (Chris Sarandon - Fright Night (1986) ), who has teamed up with Alex (Anson Mount - All The Boys Love Mandy Lane ).
The whole movie takes a turn into an entirely different genre. Our hero is no longer a good man down on his luck who takes a chivalric interest in protecting a small child. Instead he is a poor man's John Wick , a one-man army on a crusade to wipe out the Russian mob. And he also has a new backstory to go with the new direction the story has taken. The down-on-his-luck cage fighter was once an assassin for the corrupt cops, assigned to them after the Mayor recruited him from a Special Forces hit-squad.
Parker follows his victims to Florida, where he meets an estate agent named Leslie Rodgers ( Jennifer Lopez ). Rather than fraternize with the flirty local cop, Jake Fernandez (Bobby Cannavale - Ant-Man ), Leslie insinuates herself into Parker's robbery/revenge plot.
There is also a subplot about Parker being hunted by a hit-man named Kroll (Daniel Bernhardt - Santa's Summer House ).
This should probably just be a car-chase movie, like Drive . After all, it was created by Luc Besson , the man behind the Taxi series. However, this has a more varied collection of action scenes. After all, Frank is not merely the best driver in the world. He is also a one-man army, an expert in all weapons and all forms of unarmed combat.
The local super-villain sends his murderous girlfriend ( Kate Nauta ) to abduct the boy. She struts around in high heels and lingerie while wielding a matched pair of fully automatic, fully surpressed handguns. The only thing that slows her down is her bumbling henchman (Jason Fleming - Primeval ).
FBI Special Agent In Charge (Keith David - The Thing (1982) ) suspects it is an inside job, so Frank is treated as a suspect. He must solve the case and save the boy single-handed. Well, the French detective from the first movie is in town but he is basically just the comedy relief.
Frank may be a former British Army Special Forces soldier. However, his skillset more closely resembles that of a Hong Kong stuntman. For example, he takes on a group of thugs by using a fire-hose as if he were Jackie Chan. The difference is that Jackie's movies are comedy-thriller romps while this is a more serious neo-noir revenge-type thriller. The result is that the tone of the movie alternates between serious and jokey. In fact, the whole effort is disturbingly bloodless. Even the most gruesome kill scene is without visible bloodshed.
A rent-a-villain named Johnson (Robert Knepper - iZombie ) and his team of goons are pressuring a senior Ukrainian official named Leonid Vasilev (Jeroen Krabbe - Living Daylights (1987) ) to allow them to dump vast amounts of toxic waste in his country. Their leverage is kept in a car, and the plan is to keep the car moving to prevent interception by Vasilev's people.
Frank is anchored to the car by an explosive bracelet. If he goes more than fifty feet from the vehicle, his bracelet will explode and vapourise him. This is basically a variation on the premise of Speed (1994) .
The action scenes are basically copied from the original movie. And in fact, the original movie did it better.
Cage is subjected to a series of dangerous test scenarios, including an encounter with a dangerous drug warlord (Danny Trejo - Machete ).
XXX is sent on his first mission. He must infiltrate a gang of Euro-Trash anarchists run by Marton Csokas ( Xena: Warrior Princess ). The good news is that he gets to hook up with tough-girl Asia Argento .
Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson - Marvel Avengers ) has a rival in the US military-industrial complex. The villain is Colonel Decker - oops, Defence Secretary Deckert ( Spiderman ). If only they had just made Nick Fury versus Green Goblin instead.
US Intelligence boss Marke ( Toni Collette ) has obtained a super-weapon, Pandora's Box. This is just a codename, like the Rabbit's Foot in Mission Impossible 3 , not literally the ancient artefact from Lara Croft: Cradle of Life . She displays the device to a conference of her fellow Intelligence Heads, a group of rent-a-villains like Nigel Bennett ( Lexx ). Then a highly-skilled intruder (Donnie Yen - Rogue One: A Star Wars Tale ) breaks in and steals the weapon!
Marke has a tech nerd ( Nina Dobrev ), but needs a team of specialists for field-work. She finds Xander Cage (Vin Diesel - Riddick ), who faked his death after the first film. Cage has his own team of buddies, including a stunt-driver (Rory McCann - Game of Thrones ) and a sniper ( Ruby Rose ). They go undercover, posing as crooks on the run.
This is a cheesy and cheerful action extravaganza. It displays no respect for the laws of physics, although it does display a lot of violence without consequences. Like the John Wayne movies of the Hayes Code era, a cowboy can get shot but he never bleeds. The film may have a PG-13 certificate, but that is only because of the language. Dobrev says This is f*cking great! at the end.