Fast & Furious 7 (known as Furious 7 in some circles) is the seventh instalment of the car racing infused saga started back in 2001. To some, it’s surprising that it is still running strong. To me, it’s a relief, as its level of nonsensical car chases and ridiculous action set pieces is unmatched on the current cinema landscape.
My history with the franchise is a bit rocky. I loved the first film, absolutely hated 2 Fast 2 Furious (i.e. the second one), and so I stopped watching. That is, until reviews started praising Fast Five (the fifth one in case it wasn’t obvious), which is where I came back to the world of Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (the late Paul Walker). And what a ride it has been since then. Injecting a hefty dose of action by making our team of racers tackle increasingly complex heists, the franchise was rejuvenated, all spearheaded by the addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is usually referred as franchise viagra, for his ability to rejuvenate any ageing intellectual property).
And make no mistake. These movies are dumb. All of them. But they are so aware of their dumbness, that they take it to absolute extremes, where the results are glorious.
The seventh Furious film starts with our family living in Los Angeles in peace, after earning a clean slate on the last film (even though they’ve destroyed at least three capitals). When baddie Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) comes knocking on each of their doors with a taste of vengeance (because his brother was killed in a previous film, or some irrelevant reason like that), killing one of the crew in the process, our team of daredevils decides to take matters into their own hands, and start a world encompassing race to find and kill mister bad guy. There’s a lot of deep themes being played with, like public surveillance and drones, but they are just there to advance the plot really. The main theme going through most of the franchise is family, and how family always comes first. And this is one destructive family.
During their travels around the world looking for Shaw, Dom, Brian and crew offer some of the most incredible action sequences seen both on this franchise and in recent cinema. They are exhilarating, long, and look very “realistic” (or as realistic as dropping cars from an airplane can look). Add in some very well choreographed fistfights and gunfights, and you get a high octane, non stop action extravaganza. There’s planes, cars, helicopters, drones, dune buggies, really attractive people, and you can already see where this is going.
The film is top notch entertainment, but it has to be said that it doesn’t really elevate the action genre. It does hold true to the rule of the sequel, where it is bigger and badder than the ones before. But we expect certain things from the Furious films by now, and that hasn’t changed as much now as, say, when the fifth instalment came around. So no reinvention of the formula, but it isn’t really needed. We come for the car chases and the destruction, and Fast & Furious 7 surely delivers them in spades.
So why three stars then? This movie earns it’s stars for:
Finally, something should be said about Paul Walker. Being his last film after his tragic accident, it serves as a fitting reminder of his legacy. Kudos to director James Wan and the producing team for finishing the film without one of his main leads, which required rewriting the film’s ending (and some ingenious filmmaking, such as filming Paul’s brothers for additional scenes), and still coming out on top. Paul was never a good actor, but he, along with Vin Diesel, are the heart and soul of this series. Thankfully, the film gives him the goodbye he deserves, including a heart wrenching tribute at the very end. It’s sad to see him go, and it’ll be interesting to see where Universal takes the inevitable 8th instalment without his presence. I’ll be here waiting…
Fast and Furious 7 is in cinemas now