See It Instead: Furious 7

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See It Instead:  Furious 7

Time once again to scour the bargain bin and bring you excellent films from yesteryear.  When you want the big time feel of the theater without the big time price of a 3D, surround sound, feel-around butter flavored blockbuster, turn to See It Instead for three quality flicks that deserve your attention instead!

Furious 7 (2015)

furious posterVroom Vrooming through box office records, the seventh installment of The Fast and The Furious series features the last screen performance of star Paul Walker, who died last year in an automobile accident.  The franchise has continued to grow in popularity…and cast size…and insanity.  Big names and big stunts are the bread and butter of the Furious series (as well as changing how they abbreviate the title every damn time.)  The story has become soap-opera levels of byzantine, with characters disappearing and reappearing, people going in an out of comas, sudden amnesia, and a revenge plot spanning several characters and continents.  If you haven’t been keeping score at home, Furious 7’s plot may leave you scratching your head.  Why give your noggin a rest and see these other gasoline soaked vengeance flicks instead?

The Serious Pick: Heist (2001)

A classier breed of criminal.
A classier breed of criminal.

If the Fast and Furious series is the Mt. Dew of the “caper movie” genre, then Heist is aged scotch.  Gene Hackman, Sam Rockwell, and Danny Devito are three career criminals forced to work together on one last job.  Hackman is a jewel thief who is anxious to get out of the game.  The only problem is that crime boss DeVito holds his papers, and insists on him completing a dangerous (but lucrative) job robbing a transport plane containing a shipment of gold.  Hackman assembles his team of seasoned thieves, but DeVito forces them to take his nephew (Sam Rockwell) who is both inexperienced and hot tempered.  Things don’t go well.

Heist is slick, intelligent, and darkly funny.  When the stakes are high, bullets and one-liners fly in every direction.  Sorting out who is back-stabbing who becomes essential, so you may want to watch this one with a notebook handy.  Director David Mamet creates great characters, edgy dialogue, and a devious crime flick that’ll have itching for just one last score.

The Unconventional Pick:  Mad Max (1979)

Shotguns, its Australian for Justice!
Shotguns, its Australian for Justice!

Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a young hotshot motor-cop in a world that is nearing the edge of collapse.  Roving bands of diesel soaked lunatics control the wasteland, stealing gasoline, terrorizing towns, and killing anyone who drives into their territory.  The last vestige of stability in this society is the Main Force Patrol, a quasi-police unit who use harsh techniques and souped-up hot rods to combat the growing lawlessness.  Why an energy crisis causes people to drive around like maniacs in gas-guzzling cars is anyone’s guess…its kind of like having a super-soaker fight during a drought if you ask me.  Regardless, Max is the best, busting several of the nastiest “skags” with his partner, Goose.  When one of the crazies gets out of jail on a technicality, he targets Max and Goose with the help of his criminal biker gang.  Fighting to protect his family, his friends, and his country, Max finds himself drawing ever closer to the blurred double lines that separate justice from…madness!

"See as this is your first ticket, I'm going to let you off with just a small explosion this time..."
“Seeing as this is your first ticket, I’m going to let you off with just a small explosion this time…”

Shot on a shoe-string, Mad Max is a hell of a dystopian revenge film.  The chase scenes are tight and nerve-wracking, and feature what is probably a criminal amount of flying bodies and exploding vehicles.  If you want to get amped up for next months long awaited fourth installment in the series, Mad Max: Fury Road, then go back to the original and get ready for insanity.

The Lighthearted Pick:  The Big Hit (1998)

A buddy film...if all your buddies were hit-men who were trying to kill you.
A buddy film…if all your buddies were hit-men who were trying to kill you.

Nice-guy Melvin J Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) has a problem.  Actually, he has a ton of them.  As a professional hit-man, he works long days in a dangerous job where his friends constantly try to screw him out of his cut (and his life!)  When he gets home, his vain wife (Christina Applegate) and his demanding mistress (Lela Rochon) keep him running around like a madman.  Melvin just wants a little down time to watch his favorite movie, King Kong Lives…but the rental store keeps badgering him about the due date.  He just can’t catch a break!

A plot by his team-mate, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, to kidnap a wealthy Japanese businessman’s daughter backfires, as she turns out to be under the protection of the crime lord who Melvin’s team works for.  On the run from assassins, his wife, his mistress, and his crummy friends, Melvin tries to keep his life together, all while dodging bullets and late fees.  If you long for the glory days of big box rental stores, or can recall a time before Marky Mark was a respectable Hollywood star, The Big Hit is full of action and comedy that will take you back.  Just make sure you return it on time if you rent it…

I do miss the impeccable customer "service" though...
I do miss the impeccable customer “service” though…

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