Insurgent (12A)

The Fast & Furious franchise returns with its 7th entry and continues where the last couple of instalments left off.

When the original first hit our screens back in 2001 it was essentially Point Break in fast cars, introducing the general public to the world of tuner cars, illegal drag racing and of course NOS! Despite the shortcomings in originality of the The Fast & The Furious, it was an immensely watchable film due to the onscreen chemistry between the films main actors, many of whom are still series regulars.

As the franchise has grown over the years the plotlines have become more outlandish and Dominic Torreto’s gang have become a near invincible crew of thieves/secret agents, think a cross between pre-Craig James Bond and Oceans 11.

Fast & Furious 7 starts off where number 6 finishes with hospitalised villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) being paid a visit by even more villainous big brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the trail of bodies left in his wake gives you and early indication of his capabilities as an ass kicking machine.

These credentials are quickly enhanced when Deckard pays a visit to the gargantuan Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to find out who is responsible for his brothers condition. He soon turns his attention to Torreto (Vin Diesel) and the rest of his crew (people who stuck around for the credits during 6 will already know of Han’s fate) who are adjusting to life following the events of 2013’s film.

Brian (the late Paul Walker) is struggling to adapt to domestic life with Mia (Jordana Brewster), while Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) try to overcome the latter’s amnesia. A few explosions and car chases later the gang are working alongside some shady government agents (Kurt Russell) to acquire a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) from the clutches of some evil PMC’s (an underused Djimon Hounsou and Tony Jaa).

The set pieces in the film feel like they are lifted straight from a video game at times with chases down the side of a mountain, jumping a car between sky scrapers and launching another car at a moving helicopter. It may not be the most realistic of action but it is a spectacle to behold and will likely keep most people on the edge of their seats.

The hand to hand combat is also possibly the best to feature in the series, largely due to the introduction of martial arts experts Statham and Jaa. There are some fast paced and very visceral confrontations.

The plot is nothing too original but anyone who is a fan of the franchise is here for the action and on the whole the cast do well with what they have; newcomers Russell and Emmanuel stand out.

Of course there is a shadow of sadness that accompanies the film with Paul Walker’s tragic death and this feeling is noticeable whenever Walker is on screen. This adds a surprising amount of emotion to some of the scenes as large parts of the movie were re-shot after his 2013 crash. This element is handled very well throughout the film, with a mixture of CGI and clever camera angles and there is a fitting send off to Walker and his character at the end of the movie.

Overall Fast & Furious 7 is more of the same, which for most people is no bad thing. If you are looking for some popcorn action that doesn’t require too much thought then I would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

If you disliked the previous two instalments then I would probably give this one a wide berth and maybe go and enjoy the sunshine instead!

Insurgent continues the dark, dystopian story that Divergent began. It picks up where its predecessor left off, with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) on the run from the ruling Erudite faction after the uprising.

Tris, Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) are desperately trying to find out what the Abnegation faction sacrificed their lives to protect. With Abnegation all but destroyed, all that remains is Candour, Amity, Dauntless and Erudite.

The group must search for answers and learn the truth about their world before it’s too late. But they are being hunted by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the Erudite leader who will stop at nothing to eradicate all Divergents.

Time is not on Tris’ side. She must confront her inner demons if she is to fight back against Jeanine’s powerful alliances with the other factions which threatened to obliterate her society.

Tris and her posse are forced to unite with unlikely allies in a bid to bring Jeanine’s tyranny to an end. Their search for the truth causes Tris to cross paths with her old rival Eric (Jai Courtney) who’s all too happy to be aligned with Jeanine.

Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they attempt to unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.

It soon becomes apparent that the unlikely leader is the only one that can put a stop to the chaos and save the Divergents, but after all Tris has been through is the talented teen strong enough?

If you’re hoping to see a high octane adaptation of Victoria Roth’s post-apocalyptic teen novel then you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. I hated Divergent so much that it made its way onto my 5 worst movies of 2014 list last year, and Insurgent is no exception.

Tris is the Sindy to Katniss’ Barbie. She’s a cheap knock off, and boy can you tell the difference. This isn’t a story of bravery or defiance but instead one of adventure and friendship. No scene is ever too scary, or too exciting for that matter. Insurgent is a watered-down version of a good action movie. It’s tolerable at best.

By Ruth Walker

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