Furious 7

Furious 7 photo starrating-4stars.jpgOver the course of seven films, the raison d’être of the Fast & Furious movies has been car chases, explosions and epic fights. The movies have laid this groundwork. I didn’t make the rules but that is how they must be judged. Using this barometer, I have always found the Fast & Furious franchise to be mildly entertaining. The first one is almost quaint by today’s standards. A variation of Point Break but with cars instead of surfboards. Parts 2-4 were of irregular quality with mixed results. But then the saga got a shot in the arm with parts 5 & 6. They both exceeded expectations. However they still never quite hit that sweet spot where the rightfully lively crossed over into the magnificent. That is until now. With Furious 7, director James Wan has produced a sequel that is so insane, so giddy to just throw the rules out the window, that the merely exciting has now crossed over into the ridiculously sublime. Regardless of your evaluation, this entry is unlike any that has come before. It is completely bonkers and the established drama is all the better for it.

Furious 7 evokes the best camaraderie from the gang. A huge cast is beautifully integrated into a story that has multiple events constantly going on at any given time. In a nod to the original film, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) gather with the neighborhood for race wars. Is that Iggy Azalea congratulating Letty for her win? Brian (Paul Walker) adjusts to a quiet family life with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and son. Meanwhile Federal Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) finds a new villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) hacking away into his computer. Shaw has vowed to take revenge on behalf of his brother Owen (Luke Evans) who now lays in a coma amongst the ruins of a hospital on fire. Shaw is a human killing machine and Hobbs ends up in the hospital with a broken arm after he is hurled out of a second story window. He contacts Dom who vows to take down Shaw for good. Dom assembles the old gang which includes Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris). They embark on a mission to try and locate Shaw using a surveillance system called God’s Eye which can spot anybody from anywhere in the world. The story also has parts for Kurt Russell, Djimon Hounsou, a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Bollywood actor Ali Fazal, martial artist Tony Jaa and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. Even Lucas Black from Tokyo Drift shows up briefly.

Naturally the plan involves five of our heroes dropping out of a jet plane sitting in their cars equipped with parachutes. In this entry a car behaves more like a spaceship than a vehicle meant for land. The action set piece ends with a bus teetering on the edge of a cliff with Paul Walker inside. Aw heck a cliff never stopped anybody in this. Vin Diesel willingly drives himself off another cliff and he miraculously survives. Oh wait till you see the skyscraper scene in Abu Dhabi. This comes after a lavish party which is possibly the film’s only lull. There’s lots of music video edits and color at least. Then there’s a combat scene where Vin Diesel goes mano a mano with rival Jason Statham. “Thought this was gonna be street fight?” Diesel shouts holding a gun at an unarmed Statham. “You’re damn right it is” he says tossing the gun aside. The quips usually aren’t much more cutting than that, but they’re always perfectly timed and delivered with such confidence that they invariably land like the most eloquently tossed off wit.

Furious 7 is the best chapter in the Fast & Furious franchise. This is a fact. It’s not even up for discussion. The production is all about raising the stakes to top the others. It succeeds. It’s bigger, faster, funnier and yes, more touching. Furious 7 has the craziest stunts, the campiest dialogue, and the warmest, most amiable fellowship of any entry yet. The sequels have grown progressively sillier. This has been to the benefit of the series. The way this gang cheats death in this world is closer to the rules that govern cartoons like Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner. Side Note: Their first Looney Tunes appearance was actually a short called Fast and Furry-ous in 1949. I kid you not. Anyway, it‘s the no holds barred, gleefully outrageous stunts that make this installment so transcendent. Nobody ever said these films were emotionally deep. Yet Furious 7 ends ups being a surprisingly touching tale concerning family – not necessarily people united by blood, but by loyalty and friendship. The camaraderie here is stronger than it has ever been. Furious 7 is a fitting coda not just to the series, but to the life of the late Paul Walker as well. By the end, I challenge you to keep the tears at bay.

04-02-15

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25 Responses to “Furious 7”

  1. By far the best of the series. Your review describes exactly what I thought too. It was a crazy ride and I loved it. The tribute to Paul at the end was also a nice touch. 4 stars.

  2. I don’t know if it is the best of the series (Fast Five does it for me), but it is pretty damn close.

    I believe Lin is a little better with the hand to hand action, but Wan, pretty much a first-time action director if you don’t count Death Sentence, does a very superb job. I’ll be seeing this one again, and I believe my final grade basically more or less aligns with yours. Great thoughts as always.

    • Obviously the best of something is completely subjective. For example with the Spider-Man films, I think most critics agree that Spider-Man 2 (2004) was the best. With this series, I do feel that this entry reached a pinnacle we haven’t seen until now. I still thought 5 and 6 were good though. 🙂

      • Of course. I think there is a big consensus that action-wise, nothing prior in this series matches up to 7. And I too believe this is the pinnacle of this series. I will continue to watch these because I like them, but a huge part of me would love for this to be the end; there’s a real sense of finality. Money talks though.

      • And I agree. Furious 7 action is INSANE. In a good way 🙂

  3. Best in the series a fact? I don’t think so Mark, that’s an opinion. FAST FIVE is still the best in the series, this one is slightly better than the 4th film. It’s entertaining but way too long and the action scenes are getting in the TRANSFORMERS ridiculousness territory. I love me some big over the top action scenes but the climatic action scene in this one just went way too long.

    • I love that Furious 7 totally embraced the ridiculousness of the series. That part in Abu Dhabi was insane! It’s that mentality that made this entry my favorite.

  4. GaryGreg828 Says:

    I have never even watched any of these movies, as I am not into most action movies, but if I were to check this one out, would I understand it or be lost without seeing the others?

    I would consider giving this one a go b/c of Paul Walker and like to see how they handle things with him and the tribute at the end.

    I am still saddened and disappointed by his early passing. He wasn’t a great actor, but he was very distinctive and there’s no one else like him in Hollywood. He had his own unique style. And most importantly, he seemed like a genuinely nice person who didn’t get overly caught-up in the Hollywood lifestyle.

    I think my favorite Paul Walker film was “Joy Ride”. He was so terrible on that Cb radio trying to sound like a sexy woman as “Candy Cane”. lol. But that’s what was so hilarious and endearing about it.

    • Joy Ride was a thrilling little B movie. Really enjoyed that.

      As far as seeing this movie without prior knowledge, the stories aren’t complicated. I’d say it helps to have some connection to the characters, but you won’t be lost.

      • GaryGreg828 Says:

        I have seen a few scenes from the first one, so have an idea who a few characters are. If I go see “Ex Machina” next week, I may go see Fast 7, afterwards. I like to watch 2-3 at a time. Saves on gas. 🙂 Ex Machina looks pretty interesting, you think?

      • Yes it looks interesting. Alex Garland has written several things including Sunshine, which I adored.

  5. Yeah I had quite a bit of trouble at the end end there, the loss is just so unfair. but the film handled his departure with grace and his story ending is perfect. I loved loved this one. It might be my favorite. Not sure if that’s the same as “the best,” as I still need to see Fast Five. Great review.

    • I don’t make a distinction between favorite and best. We’re talking about an opinion. These aren’t absolutes. Fast Five is the one that people most often cite as the best. That is until this one came out a couple days ago. 😀

  6. Now its my turn to be astonished by your review Mark. I thought you would despise this. We find ourselves in a similar situation to our views on The Artist. The surprising thing is that Wade & I were actually looking forward to it!

    Its a tough one to call; the series has always been peppered with ridiculous / physics bending / logic fails – but somehow the overload and complete lack of engaging plot in this one took it a step too far for me. I realise that it really is indeed a fine line between getting the audience to go with it…or disengage. I off course did the latter.

    It started off very well – the aftermath of Jason Statham’s hospital entry and the call-backs to the first movies to name a few. The car-skydive set-piece would have done well for a finale….then the film just kept going on…and on…..and ONNN!

    Will (BillyQuick) said it best when we came out – the final half hour was like being rhythmically bashed repeatedly over the head with a metal pan. Nonsense. I’ll say again what I said on my twitter feed. I blame Michael Bay for this kind of direction….cinema for the ADHD generation… BANG!! PHWOOAARR look at that ASS!! CRASH!! PHWOAAARRR look at them TITTIES!!! BANG!!! Look at that RIDE!!! WALLOP!! Check out these GUNS!!! (repeat above after 10mins of conversation of screentime). This movie was no different to the last 2 transformers films.

    Fast 7 was the soulless entry of the franchise, Fast 5 being the entry they got just right. Paul Walker’s send-off was the best from this film. Its such a shame it came at the end of THIS film.

    • Michael Bay?! Ouch!

      I’m off to work so my resposne will have to be brief. Right off the top of my head, a few distinctions between this and a Transformers film:

      1.) I could SEE the action. It wasn’t a barrage of CGI nonsense.

      2.) The camaraderie/warmth of the cast. These people are likable.

      3.) It wasn’t 3 hours long.

      😀

  7. I saw this on Monday and had a lot of fun with it. Glad you liked it too. I’m going to have to watch the rest of the series, now that I know how much fun I’ve been missing. I watched the original last night, and I have to say, it wasn’t half bad.

  8. martin250 Says:

    nice review Mark. your last two sentences are very true. This series turned him into a big star. He appeared in 6 out of these 7 incredibly successful movies (within a 13 year span), which means that these movies were very much a part of his latter life.

  9. I reckon it’s like Sharknado but with Cars instead of fish. And a slightly bigger budget of course. Knowingly silly fun.

  10. I still haven’t seen Furious 7, but I’ve loved the direction the series has been going in, especially after 6. I enjoy the camraderie of the cast and how they just keep amping up the action. If this is indeed as bonkers as you say, then sign me up.

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