Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson
Rated: PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language
After six “Fast and Furious” movies, it seems almost redundant to review the newest one. The franchise has a very successful formula: fast cars, awesome action scenes, big brawls between huge muscular dudes, and ladies in bikinis. The filmmakers know their target audience and don’t waste time trying to make anything but huge action flicks. This is another solid entry in a solid series. If you like this kind of movie, you’ll like this one.
“Furious 7” has been a long time coming, in part because of the untimely death of Paul Walker, who is essentially the co-lead of the franchise. The film still works fine and has a minimum of obviously greenscreened/reused footage. If it weren’t for the tribute to Walker at the end, you might not even realize he died before the film was finished.
The plot carries on from the previous installment: the “Fast & Furious 6” villain has a brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who is essentially every action movie’s bigger, badder bad guy. He’s displeased with our heroes, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Walker) and their buddies, and aims to make them all pay. Everybody is here, from Letty (Michelle Rodriguez),Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Ludacris) to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Dom and Brian strike a deal with covert commander “Mr. Nobody” (Kurt Russell) to do a job for him in exchange for the tech needed to hunt down Deckard, who is essentially invisible unless he’s trying to kill you. That job turns out being a daring rescue involving a huge bus, a bunch of armored cars, and our heroes driving their cars out of a plane and parachuting them down to the location.
If that seems stupid or unbelievable to you, you are not the target audience for this film, and are better off spending your time elsewhere. If that sounds awesome to you and you somehow haven’t seen this movie, get to a cinema pronto. Parachuting cars is only one of the many over-the-top stunts in this movie. After this many films, the folks making these movies know what they’re doing, and they wring every last bit of awesome out of their stunts and special effects. They also cram every available bit of screenspace in the scenes at big events full of gyrating women in bikinis and other skimpy outfits, which is annoying to those of us who don’t like women being used as décor. Fortunately, the female characters with actual dialog are mostly as smart, fast, and dangerous as the men, so at least we can enjoy them.
It’s kind of too bad that the cast is so large, since it means if you aren’t Dom, Brian, or the bad guy, you don’t get a ton of screentime. Johnson and Russell are clearing having a blast onscreen, and it seems a pity they didn’t get more time. What they do get is great, though, and at 137 minutes the film is about as long as you can get away with in the genre.
The script is essentially huge action sequences tied together by one-liners and cheesy emotional dialog (Brian’s wife and kid have to be sent into hiding, Dom and Letty are trying to figure out their relationship since Letty’s amnesia, and so on), but the touchy-feely is kept to a minimum. If it’s really not your thing, you can use those scenes to run get more popcorn.
You’ll probably enjoy “Furious 7” more if you’ve seen at least the immediately previous film in the franchise – there are a lot of character references that assume you’ve seen the other films. Really, though, if you love this kind of movie and somehow missed all the other movies, do yourself a favor and watch the whole set. If, on the other hand, you’re already a fan, you know you can’t miss this.