Not a particularly productive week, this one, but hey, it was the summer. Yes, I count that as a valid excuse. Moving on, though, I’d say the two films that I did get to watch this time around both defied expectations in one way or another. Read on for more.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) - 7/10
I really didn’t know what to make of The Lincoln Lawyer going into it. The trailers made it look like a potentially good, but likely forgettable experience, and it’s been a long time since Matthew McConaughey last turned in a notable performance (no thanks to all the romantic comedies he’s starred in recently). I eventually ended up checking the film out after reading up on some positive reviews and receiving it as a recommendation from people, and I’m glad I did, because The Lincoln Lawyer actually turned out to be a really great courtroom thriller. The directing is solid, the screenplay is all around well-written, and Matthew McConaughey hasn’t been this good since Frailty, which was about ten years ago. Not only that, but the movie also boasts a remarkable supporting cast, with William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei as frontrunners. I was a bit divided on Ryan Phillippe as the antagonist, but he pulled it off well enough. There’s really not much else to say about The Lincoln Lawyer, so I’ll just conclude with recommending it, just as it was recommended to me in the past. It’s an entertaining film if I’ve ever seen one.
Fast Five (2011) - 6/10
I think we can all agree that The Fast and the Furious series of films aren’t exactly the be-all, end-all of modern filmmaking, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. I don’t really know why – perhaps it’s the recurring characters that give you a sense of familiarity, perhaps the amount of entertainment that these movies provide – but I’ve been drawn to this series since I saw the first movie, and things haven’t changed much since. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift were some real stinkers, but I do think that the films in-between the two are rather decent. They’re not great pieces of filmmaking, but I don’t believe that dismissing them as poor is appropriate. That being said, I found the latest instalment in the series, Fast Five, no doubt to be a good film – possibly the best one yet. I was glad to see that the movie stuck with the original cast of characters (we know how well it worked out when they tried to start from scratch with Tokyo Drift) as it definitely added more gravitas to the plot. Action films like The Fast and the Furious series don’t really have time to develop their characters, with most of them having one-dimensional or stereotypical types, so keeping the same characters throughout a franchise helps develop them over time. Such is also the case with this series, and I truly believe that with Fast Five these characters have finally been set free of the ‘throwaway’ status. As for the new characters, such as Luke Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson) and Elena Neves, they really seem to find their place in the story in this film. All of what I said above reverts back to the writing, and it’s fair to say that Fast Five is a very well-written action film; it has a smooth opening, a solid third act, and things actually tie in together nicely in the end. Plus, it also delivers some pretty memorable action scenes, and even though the vault heist is rather implausible and tough to suspend belief for, it’s undoubtedly well-done and constructed from a filmmaking standpoint. All in all, if things go well, I wouldn’t mind another couple of entries into the franchise as long as it knows to stick with its guns and as long as Justin Lin is directing. He may have screwed up with Tokyo Drift, but he’s undoubtedly learned a lot since then and I say he’s become a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on in the future.