Movie Review: Furious 7
By Matthew Huntley
April 14, 2015
After Fast & Furious 6 (2013), I was afraid this fully loaded action series might start to slow down and turn stale, despite each movie’s production values growing bigger, louder and more expensive than the one before it. Furious 7, to my surprise, not to mention delight, quenched those fears, and I’m now convinced this steadfast franchise has earned its place alongside James Bond as one that has the power to keep re-invigorating itself. It’s here to stay, and so long as it provides its characters new and interesting things to do, which, in this case, is to carry out and survive innovative action scenes, we gladly welcome that.
In Fast 7, the seemingly invincible and familial team of death defying, sports car-driving, one-liner-delivering individuals, who now have more in common with superheroes than street racers, are once again on the hunt for an international criminal. You might recall at the end of the last movie, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), an ex-British soldier, began avenging his younger brother Owen (Luke Evans) after the F&F gang thwarted the latter’s plans for world domination. During the closing credits, Deckard killed Han (Sung Kang) and called up Dom (Vin Diesel) to let him know he and the rest of his crew are next.
Now Dom, Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) have teamed up with Frank Petty (Kurt Russell), the leader of a covert ops group, to find the older Shaw and bring him down, vowing to one another, “No more funerals.” The forever greased up Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) has already felt Shaw’s wrath and unofficially tells Dom to “get the sombitch.”
Petty agrees to help the team in exchange for their recovering “God’s Eye,” a computer program that can locate any individual on the planet through any communication device. They must not only obtain God’s Eye but also rescue its designer, a beautiful hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who’s currently being held captive by a terrorist named Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).
Needless to say, the movie uses these basic, simple plot points to stage elaborate, over-the-top chase sequences, fight scenes, shootouts, etc., and it just wouldn’t be Fast and the Furious if numerous shots of sexy women’s butts, breasts, and mid-sections weren’t spread throughout the mayhem. Fast 7 ups the ante on each of its well-known properties, highlighted by a long yet consistently energetic pursuit by Dom and the gang down a mountain range in Azerbaijan after they (spoiler alert!) parachute from a plane in their highly customized muscle cars.
The movie unabashedly stretches implausibility to the brim. No matter the number of head-on collisions, car accidents, punches to the face, kicks to the stomach, or wrenches to the back, which would surely send any real human to either the morgue or emergency room, the heroes of Fast 7 manage to walk away unscathed. They also seem relatively unfazed by what they survive. Then again, do the heroes of any action franchise ever really stop in their tracks to simply say, “Holy crap, I just survived [enter stunt]”?
Certainly not here; they just laugh each adventure off and add it to the list. This is fine by us because it’s enormously entertaining to watch and provides a real, legitimate rush. Director James Wan, the second unit team and special effects artists seamlessly bring together all their components and the result is us feeling like we’re right in the middle of the action. In this day and age especially, that’s a testiment to the movie’s potency.
Take, for instance, the scene when Brian must jump from a van that’s teetering on a cliff. Even though we know he’s probably going to make it, our stomachs still leave us for a split second as he makes the effort. Afterward, we feel like applauding. Not a lot of modern action movies are able to generate such an effect.
Speaking of the Brian character, one probably can’t write a review of Furious 7 without specifically mentioning Paul Walker, who died tragically in November 2013 when production was on break. This unfortunate development forced the filmmakers to re-write parts of the screenplay and avoid would-be close-ups because Walker was now longer available. Still, they’ve done a near flawless job of masking Walker’s absence, not only technically, but also narratively. I’ll not give anything away, but the ending is credible, emotional and heartfelt.
With all this in mind, where does the series go from here? Well, given this one’s early box-office receipts, Furious 8 is no doubt already in the works, and if the franchise can continue to be innovative on its own level, there’s no telling how many more installments we’ll see in the future. It’s not likely that each one will always be as good as this, but I think the filmmakers have proven they have the right to always try.