The thing about the Fast and Furious films is that you have to leave your brain at the door when you watch them. Each new entry into the series has topped the stunts of the previous films, and the dialogue, plots, and essentially everything else are so over-the-top and ludicrous that you just can’t take these films seriously as anything but action porn. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Furious 7 continues this trend, but unfortunately, is clouded with the unexpected death of Paul Walker, one of the film’s stars. That cloud works as both a hamper to the usual thrills and as a somber celebration of arguably the greatest work that Walker did while on this planet.
Furious 7 picks up shortly after the events of Fast & Furious 6. Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) is in custody — and in the hospital reeling from injuries he received at the end of F&F 6, and his older brother Deckard (Jason Statham) isn’t too happy about it. The elder Shaw also happens to be an ex-black ops operative trained by a litany of organizations known only by letters (SAS, INTERPOL, Etc.). Deckard decides to seek out revenge for his little brother, and that brings him to Team Furious (or the Torretto extended family, or whatever we are calling Vin Diesel’s ever-growing crew).
While the revenge story could have, and should have, been enough, director James Wan (Saw, Conjuring) and writer Chris Morgan decided to pile on more and more, by including a hot hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel; Missandei from HBO’s Game of Thrones) who has created a program that can tap into any and all electronic devices to track a person, which in turn brings out Mr. Nobody (the wonderful Kurt Russell, bringing his signature style to the production and it was very welcome) and his government agency to work with Team Furious to obtain the program, which in turn will help Dom (Diesel) turn the tables and take the fight to Deckard.
Now, while this is now pushing the boundaries of story for a film about car-driving thieves pulling off heists, along comes another new player in Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), a warlord/terrorist who wants the program for himself so he can bring terror to the world.
Very quickly, the revenge story is abandoned and Furious 7 becomes less a Fast and Furious film, and more of a xXx movie (Vin Diesel’s other “franchise,” though he was only in the first one). James Wan is still able to cram spectacular car stunts into the film, but the emphasis is placed firmly on the “spy” plot and not the usual “ride or die” tropes that F&F films are known for.
Morgan’s script calls for some incredibly ridiculous action pieces. In fact, watching Furious 7 took me back to when I was seven or eight and would play with my Hot Wheels cars. I never just zoomed them around the assorted tracks (and furniture) in my room; I always had the cars flying, crashing spectacularly, doing insane things that were scientifically impossible (just not to my seven-year-old brain). That sums up the stunts in Furious 7. In fact, after my viewing, I had to check and make sure that the script wasn’t co-written by a Make-A-Wish kid, as everything about it felt like it was taken from a young boy’s crude refrigerator drawings.
But really, nobody goes to a F&F movie for story; they go for those insane stunts, and Furious 7 delivers. But even as cars are dropped from cargo planes in the mountains of eastern Europe, and driven through skyscrapers in Abu Dabi, and are involved in a mad game of human “keep away” on the streets of Los Angeles, the overlying feeling that this is the last time Paul Walker will be seen on screen loomed large.
And as each plot point was resolved (for better or worse), the time with Walker waned, leading to a final scene on the beach with the entire crew, including Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris “Ludicrous” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, and of course, Vin Diesel, watching Walker and Jordana Brewster’s characters play and dance on the beach with their on-screen son Jack one last time, the audience realized that this was it. This was Paul Walker’s final moments in the franchise that made him, and he it. And no matter how insanely over-the-top the rest of the movie was to that point, that scene was truly the money shot and fans got to say their collective goodbyes, as Vin Diesel’s narration said what we all were feeling.
It was touching, and poignant, and served as the perfect end to a man’s career, in a franchise that he created. And that alone is why Furious 7 works. It is the perfect eulogy for an actor, made by his friends and family and given to his fans. I thought I heard sobs in the packed theater. And it was warranted.
Furious 7 is rated PG-13 and is in theaters today.
TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.