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Famouse ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise to a new frontier of ridiculousness



Even for the usually far-fetched “Fast and Furious” franchise, “F9” tests the limits of its ludicrousness – and that’s before a Pontiac Fiero rockets into orbit.

Space isn’t the four-wheeled final frontier but just another garage for the action-packed “Fast” movie series. The ninth installment (★★½ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters Friday) is an overloaded mélange of the “Furious” formula, with rampant vehicular mayhem, an extensive origin story (told through flashbacks), a melodramatic dream sequence, random new characters, old personalities returning from the dead, and a lack of respect for any and all rules of physics.

If you live for Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his merry band of globetrotting gearheads, that all probably sounds like cinematic nirvana – and, granted, it is a blast to see on a big screen. This international adventure on steroids, nitrous and Red Bull doesn’t exactly make for the most cohesive narrative, however.

‘The Fast and the Furious’ turns 20:Vin Diesel recalls fixing Paul Walker’s ‘goofy lines’


Directed by series stalwart Justin Lin, “F9” begins with Dom living off the grid with his son Little Brian (named for the late Paul Walker’s “Fast” character) and girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), retired from regularly saving the world. Old teammates Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson), as well as tech expert Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), arrive with the news that a plane carrying notorious hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron, returning from “The Fate of the Furious”) went down in Central America and they need Dom’s help.

The big lug balks at first, not wanting to get back in the game even for his “family,” though reconsiders when he finds out his forsaken little brother, rogue superspy Jakob (John Cena), is involved. An international race breaks out to track down the pieces of a high-tech device that could put the entire globe in danger, with Dom’s crew facing the triple threat of Jakob, Cipher and Eurotrash wannabe dictator Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen).

‘We can all cheer together’:Why Vin Diesel is driving audiences back to theaters for ‘F9’

Rogue superspy Jakob Toretto (John Cena) and villainous hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) are uneasy allies in "F9."

Yes, it’s all a bit like a stacked episode of the 1980s “G.I. Joe” cartoon, but with more muscle shirts, insane magnets, “Star Wars” references, Cardi B cameos and cars swinging Tarzan-style across a wide crevice. Lin has pulled off some of the more unbelievable action sequences in previous “Fast” installments, and “F9” pulls out all the stops. (And seeing where this film goes, one has to wonder how you top it for “Fast 10”? Time travel and/or dinosaurs may be the only options.)

Another boost for the franchise is the addition of Jakob, giving Dom a different brotherly dynamic than Diesel had with Walker, the heart of so many past films. Little bro is as good a fighter and driver as Dom, though Dom was “the golden boy” and Jakob “the useless one” growing up. Their backstory – and the tragedy that broke them apart – is revealed throughout “F9” in a parallel storyline that starts well but grows tedious.

Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, left) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) rocket  to new heights in a Pontiac Fiero with jet engines strapped to it in "F9."

Then again, “F9” is pretty much Subplots R Us. Many characters from past films show up, most notably the welcome return of Sung Kang’s presumed-dead Han, with plenty of “Fast” rookie introductions like female ninja Elle (Anna Sawai). A positive about the movie’s 145-minute length is that Lin carves out time for character moments: Letty and Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) have a heart-to-heart at a Tokyo cafe (thereby helping “F9” pass the Bechdel test), and Roman wonders if they’re actually invincible in the most self-aware conversation in “Fast” history.

These movies are best when marrying James Bond high jinks with their longtime emphasis on the strength of family, plus a serving of macho philosophy on the side. “F9” tries to goose that template exponentially with soap opera and a greatest-hits package to craft the ultimate “Fast and Furious” movie, instead succeeding at making one that’s merely fine.

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Police Investigating Potential Arson at Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s New Orleans Home



Police are investigating a fire at a New Orleans mansion owned by Jay-Z and Beyoncé as a possible arson. 


A smoke alarm notified authorities of the one-alarm fire at the vacant Garden District home late Wednesday, and no one was injured, according to TMZ. Police say they received reports of a suspicious person in the neighborhood around the same time as the blaze ignited. Authorities reportedly believe the fire began in the house’s kitchen, where they found a gasoline can and books in an oven inside the house.


The pop star purchased the home, which was originally a church and then a ballet school, in 2015 via her management company Parkwood Entertainment. Neighbors said they have seen few, if any, people enter the house in the past two years.Nearly two dozen firefighters responded to the reports of the fire, as did agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. One neighbor told that a gate on the house’s grounds was often unlocked and used to break in.

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John Cena returns to WWE, issues a SummerSlam 2021 challenge to Roman Reigns.



One night after making a surprise return to the WWE during Sunday’s Money In the Bank pay-per-view event,16-time champion John Cena was back on Monday Night Raw. And it just so happened to be the first episode of the show with live fans in attendance since the COVID-forced shutdown began in March 2020.


“Finally, we can come back and cheer together. And boo together. And make some noise and connect with people that love this,” Cena said to the energized crowd in Dallas.


And even though the actor side of Cena is quite busy with F9 already in theaters and The Suicide Squad coming on Aug. 6, the now part-time wrestler side of him has officially made plans for the summer as well. After merely announcing his presence while cutting short the celebration of Roman Reigns at Money In the Bank, where Reigns defeated Edge to retain the Universal Championship belt, Cena officially explained his return to the WWE on Monday.


“What am I here for? The WWE Universal Championship,” Cena said. “When? About five weeks from now. A little event called SummerSlam.”



So the 44-year-old will battle Reigns in the main event at SummerSlam on Aug. 21 in Las Vegas. And there probably won’t be a lot of hugging or even smiling going on during the match, after Cena spent much of his appearance on Monday talking trash about future foe.


“Roman Reigns is an arrogant, self absorbed, over-hyped, over-protected, over-exposed gimmick,” Cena said. “And that, that is coming from me.”


Cena is no longer a full-time wrestler because of his rapidly growing career in Hollywood, so he hasn’t wrestled in a high-profile match in front of fans since WrestleMania 34 in 2018 when he lost to The Undertaker. But the occasional guest co-anchor on Today has made it clear that this is not a one-and-done appearance in the WWE. In fact, he plans on seeing Reigns again very soon.


“I’m telling you right now. I’m going to be at Smackdown on Friday,” Cena said, directing his comments toward Reigns. “And I can’t wait to see you there.”

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Black Tiktokers Protest Dance Appropriation By Going On Strike.



Some Black TikTok creators have refused to choreograph moves to a new song in an effort to show how essential they are to the platform and demonstrate how their work is co-opted by white creators.

Megan Thee Stallion’s new song “Thot Shit” has all the trappings of a smash summer dance hit. Some of her previous hits, like “Body” and “Savage,” have been soundtracks for viral TikTok dance trends designed by TikTok Black creators.Yet, in the absence of captivating choreography, no viral dance has emerged since the June 11 release of “Thot Shit” ― which even outlines moves in the lyrics.

The so-called #BlackTikTokStrike isn’t calling on users to leave the app or even stop posting content. Instead, some TikTok Black creators who might typically contribute their choreography for the new hit said they were sitting this one out in an effort to highlight how essential they are to the platform.

Viral compilations have since appeared online showing dance attempts from non-Black creators that have been criticized as uninspiring. Material created by Black Tiktokers has routinely been used by white TikTok users without credit. Earlier this year, Jimmy Fallon sparked an uproar when social media star Addison Rae appeared on “The Tonight Show” to perform a range of viral routines from TikTok without attributing the original choreographers, most of whom were people of color. Fallon later hosted the original creators in response.

“In my opinion, this strike is long overdue,” said Kahlil Greene, a TikTok creator and history major who was elected Yale’s first Black student body president in 2019, in an explainer about the strike posted on his Instagram and TikTok accounts. “And it’s a real-time display of what the internet would look like without the creativity of Black people and specifically Black American culture driving it.”

Greene, who posts videos on social media educating hundreds of thousands of followers about Black culture and history, among a range of other subjects, said Black users’ refusal to create a dance came in protest of being “undervalued and uncredited on Tiktok.

Erick Louis, a 21-year-old content creator and dancer with more than 230,000 followers on TikTok, was among the dancers who boycotted “Thot Shit.” His video about it was viewed more than 700,000 times on Twitter and 400,000 times on TikTok.

“Similar to the ways off the app Black folks have always had to galvanize and riot and protest to get their voices heard, that same dynamic is displayed on TikTok,” he told The New York Times. “We’re being forced to collectively protest.”

The Tiktok strike is the latest move in a long-running fight for Tiktok Black creators to get their dues on the platform, not only from fellow influencers but also from the business itself. Some people have criticized TikTok for failing to fairly compensate creators compared with other platforms, such as YouTube. Black creators in particular have called out TikTok in the past for suppressing their content by designing an algorithm that was stacked against them. The company apologized to the Black community last year and pledged to do better.

TikTok said in a statement late Tuesday that it values the creators in its social media community.

“TikTok is a special place because of the diverse and inspiring voices of our community, and our Black creators are a critical and vibrant part of this,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email to HuffPost. “We care deeply about the experience of Black creators on our platform and we continue to work every day to create a supportive environment for our community while also instilling a culture where honoring and crediting creators for their creative contributions is the norm.”

The spokesperson also pointed to a company blog post published last week outlining its efforts to support TikTok Black creators.”



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