Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel; Paul Walker; Dwayne Johnson; Michelle Rodriguez; Jordana Brewster; Jason Statham; Kurt Russel; Ludacris; Tyrese Gibson; Nathalie Emmanuel; Djimon Hounsou.
Plot: Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.
I spent a large portion of my journey home on Friday evening contemplating where Furious 7 would fit in to my The Fast and the Furious edition of Ranked before coming to the conclusion that it wouldn’t fit into the list at all, because Furious 7 is more than just a movie, it’s a farewell that transcends the screen and hits home with a huge dose of real-life right to the heart. Spoilers aside, the seventh installment in the Fast and Furious franchise is everything you’d expect of it. It’s bigger, it’s more over-the-top, it’s better, and it does it all so tongue-in-cheek that you can’t help but to fall in love with it all over again.
Director James Wan had the nearly impossible task of putting together the picture following Paul Walker’s death. Both Cody and Caleb Walker, Paul’s brothers, stepped in for the remainder of the star’s scenes yet it seemed almost flawless, even in the moments of CGI, which is of huge testament to Wan and his team. I also think that credit has to go to Universal for not advertising this picture as Walkers’ “last ride”, as in the current marketplace there would’ve been countless people routing for such a sentimental form of promotion that Universal rightfully (in my opinion) steered away from out of respect. Continuing down this route and avoiding spoilers at all costs while doing so, I think that Wan and the Furious 7 team handled Walker’s death tremendously well. Throughout the film it can’t be helped that a large amount of foreshadowing is part of your experience as a viewer, and the film plays on that, but it’s the send off they give Walker’s character Brian O’Conner that is truly wonderful. Trust me, if you don’t have a lump in your throat after Furious 7, then you should probably go and get checked out by a GP because you have likely lost your heart.
Paul Walker/Brian O’Conner aside, Furious 7 delivers in much the same way that its predecessors have. There are over-the-top stunts, semi-unbelievable sequences, some top class one liners, and a whole load of gunfire. Furious 7 is, in short, an awesome example of how an action movie can be done right when a movie is unapologetic for what it is and embraces all of the silliness of the genre as part and parcel of its product. With stars such as Vin Diesel and The Rock heading the line-up, such an embrace becomes a beloved part of the viewing experience for large portions of the audience and ultimately leads to dollar bills and avid fans. While many of the movie’s better action scenes were somewhat spoiled by the trailer (that really does show too much), there are more than enough quips in the dialogue to keep you entertained and enough so-called “near misses” in the action sequences to keep you tense and engaged at all times.
A weak spot of the picture was undoubtedly the lack of screen time afforded to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson whose relatively minor role may have sent fan-boys and girls in to moments of hysteria (trust me, it happened to me too), but whose moments just didn’t come often enough in this particular installment for anyone to truly enjoy. In fact, there were countless moments where his absence from a scene led to the expectation that he’d show up, only for him not to, disappointing an expectant audience. Furious 7 also seemed less focused than 5 & 6, too. With so much going on, the narrative became disjointed and often felt as if several different movies were occurring at the same time with multiple stories running throughout, somewhat diluting the main story arc of the picture regarding Dominic Toretto’s protection of his family from the super dangerous Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). To me, the main story arc seemed riveting enough to not warrant all that went on around it regarding Kurt Russell and particularly Djimon Hounsou, despite how much I may personally enjoy seeing both of those actors perform. For this reason, and the fact that The Fast and the Furious is an action franchise that pokes fun at its own outrageous antics, Furious 7 won’t be winning the Best Picture Oscar at the 2016 Academy Awards as Vin Diesel has claimed, but boy is it a lot of fun!
Furious 7 is an event movie to top all but the very few biggest event movies of all time – Avengers, The Dark Knight, etc. – because you have to be there to say goodbye to the stalwart of the franchise, Paul Walker, on the big screen; and there isn’t any lack of The Rock, or any amount of convolution to the plot, that can take away from how truly enjoyable of a “be there” moment seeing Furious 7 is. I just hope that everyone gets to witness a universal round of applause at the end of their screening in the same way that I did, because that’s a moment that I’ll remember for a long time.
Probably the best studio driven pure action movie that you’ll see all year, Furious 7 gets…