Director: James Wan
Cast Headliners: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Tyreese Gibson, Ludacris
Original Release Date: April 3rd, 2015
It’s here finally, 2015 and its number seven film, and no it isn’t Star Wars. (Fast and the) Furious 7 has a monumental ambition at hand. The franchise has slowly evolved from low stakes street racing culture to now being something that puts the GI Joes to shame in its spectacle and yet it all has made total sense. This is an epic saga of a family and clan that just so happens to use cars as their superpowers. It manages to unleash an ultimate level of explosive entertainment while also being the best nostalgic tribute to series as possible to bring something so greatly special. As Dom says, “This time it ain’t just about being fast.”
The film has a lot on its roster considering the cliffhanger left at the very tail end of the previous one. While Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew think they’ve found peace at last they are in only living a temporary respite. Enter Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), older brother to the last film’s defeated villain and a vile badass nearly rivaling the classic characters. He’s out for revenge and kills Dom friend Han and injured Agent Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson). (Lucas Black makes a laughable nanosecond of a cameo role when Dom goes to Tokyo to gather his possessions. Because of the time since Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift where this out-of-order event happens and the actor has visibly aged much since the 2006 film, but it fits the movie’s carefree attitude). The movie does an effective job of explaining this to newer, or new , viewers and also manages to raise the stakes and emotion to veteran fans through finally having Han’s somber funeral.
What follows is an insane set of adventures across the country and globe with the classic crew. Dom has really grown into a compelling and inspirational hero in this world; Diesel gives a pretty solid if deliciously manly performance. Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, more on him later) manages to be greatly entertaining whether involved in death-defying combat on speeding trucks or adjusting to life as a suburban father in training. The film does a wonderful job of making each character more memorable than ever before. Everyone has their intricate personal arcs like this and even comic relief like Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) are scene-stealing. This is a team where everyone is now a scene stealer whether through dialogue or awesome/comedic action.
The film is a blockbuster in every sense of the word. It’s undeniably long which may turn some viewers off but to a fan every moment is worth it because it’s all so juicy: There’s the culmination of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Dom’s amnesiac relationship; there’s Hobbes delivering WWE-style one liners and going toe-to-toe with Deckard Shaw in close combat.; there’s death defying jumps, shootouts, car chases. A smile is promised every few minutes when in this experience.
The story pacing and direction by series newcomer James Wan is seamless. While Wan has done primarily horror films before this, his craft is evident enough through the fact that the movie feels like previous director Justin Lin hadn’t left. In fact, it feels even uniquely better by employing some twistingly chaotic camera shots such as when Brian gets into one of the best bouts with henchmen Kiet (famed Indonesian martial arts film star Tony Jaa). Everything is always clear to digest with its face-blowing intensity. The spectacle is so masterful in its self-parody that going from the obligatory babes and partying street racing to parachuting cars from a plane to having a ultra-high tech , nearly sci-fi, predator drone attack Los Angeles in the finale makes total sense. It’s no surprise that the music during a final Dom/Deckard Shaw showdown has choirs chanting as anything else wouldn’t be epic enough.
Furious 7 offers anything a hardcore fan could have wanted and more. There’s many little visual references and cameo characters from the past and long-running stories conclude. But it’s a movie for everyone who enjoys why films are fine. It’s extreme suspension of disbelief is nearly an art, for example there is also Kurt Russell playing a beer swigging CIA agent named Mr.Nobody! Even with its amazing extreme stretching of reality, exhilarating action, and frequent laughs it achieves true excellence through its emotion. Paul Walker tragically died while filming his part as Brian and the movie keeps this in mind. It must be seen for any old fan and it is simply beautiful. One can feel the emotion in Diesel and associates when delivering their last lines ever to an effectively done CGI Walker. Even if this is one’s first furious ride, they will likely shed a tear as well because it’s just a great dang movie and ending. While Brian’s ride is done (into the sunset don’t worry) I would follow Dom wherever he goes over that horizon on the clif….Thanks forever Paul! 8.7 out of 10