Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, Nathalie Joanne Emmanuel, Djimon Honsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey, Jason Statham
PG-13 | 134 Minutes
Release Date: April 3, 2015
The Fast and Furious franchise is one that lives up to its title. Incredibly fast-paced racing, furiously high-octane action sequences, and those one-liners, each new installment brings something new to the table. What makes the franchise so special is that it finds a way to adapt to the changing trends, going from underground illegal street racing to bank heists and beyond. This keeps everything fresh, and has the audience coming back for more. Even with the changes, the franchise never loses sight of its roots by continuously focusing on the themes of cars and, most importantly, family.
Furious 7 may be the most somber film of the series. The tragic passing of star Paul Walker presented a huge obstacle for director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring), who had to figure out how to give the vision that fans wanted, but also pay respect to the franchise star.
And somehow the director managed to figure it out. Of course there were a few bumps in the road, but Furious 7 is still fast, furious, and fun to watch, and is another great chapter to a series that shows no signs of slowing down.
Furious 7 picks up where Fast and Furious 6 left off. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is trying to help Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) recall her lost memories, while Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) tries to adjust to a new quiet domesticated life, with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster), and their son Jack. Meanwhile, there is trouble across the pond, as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) promises to avenge his brother, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), by killing the people who crippled him. Those who saw the mid-credits scene in Fast and Furious 6 know he starts off my targeting Han, and nearly kills Dom, Brian, Mia, and Jack. Fully aware that they are being targeted, the family — because that’s only who Toretto works with — rally together to stop Deckard before he kills them.
However, Deckard is the kind of mercenary that makes Seal Team Six look like the girl scouts. He is able to take out a highly-secure hospital full of agents, who are armed to the teeth, single-handedly. He also can go toe-to-toe against Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Basically, he isn’t easy to kill, and soon Dom gets a little help from a secret black ops group led by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), but on the condition that they rescue Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), a highly skilled hacker who is in possession of a computer chip that can access every camera lens and microphone on the planet, from the clutches of Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). Supporting characters Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), and Elena (Elsa Pataky) also make their return.
Screenwriter Chris Morgan writes another fantastic action-packed script that is relentlessly thrilling and fun. Morgan has been with the series since Tokyo Drift, carefully crafting the world of the film. However, Furious 7 marks the first time that someone other than Lin has directed his Fast and Furious script. Though Wan may be new to the franchise, it’s like Lin never left. Wan directs the film to the best of his ability, almost to a point of near flawlessness — at least by Fast and Furious standards. The three major car sequences are breathtaking and puts you on the edge of your seat, even though we’ve already seen some of it through trailers. Then there are the fight sequences, which are heavy hitting, and doesn’t miss a beat.
Furious 7 then flexes its muscles even more by adding Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey as henchman. Russell’s Mr. Nobody has that extra-cool swagger by playing the mystery card often with his extra-dark sunglasses and fondness of Belgium ales, then showing how bad-ass he is during shootout and proving that he always being a step ahead of Toretto — in his own hilariously twisted way.
Even with all of that energy pumping through the film’s engine, it does take a bit of a narrative step back, though I assume that it couldn’t be helped given the circumstances. Alliances are unexplainably forged, the globetrotting doesn’t feel as organic as we like to think, and there is a bit of shakey cam going on which may leave a feeling of disorientation.
All flaws aside, it’s hard not to get past the fact that Walker is no longer with us. It is a sense that you can stop feeling throughout the entire film. Through the magic of CGI and sibling stand-ins, his spirit is still there. Wan wisely never abuses the CGI replacement. Morgan also tweaked the script to have the characters subtlety acknowledge Walker’s untimely exit.
Furious 7 is never quite the film it is supposed to be, but it is damn-near close. It could have been a lot worse, yet Wan and Morgan handled Walker’s passing gracefully, and gives us a Fast and Furious film that will honor the legacy he had in being part of the fan-favorite franchise.
4 out of 5