Synopsis: A dead man’s brother seeks revenge on the Toretto gang.
Release Date: April 3, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Since the very beginning, the Fast and Furious franchise has bucked trends with a brash attitude and stylish flair. Over time, though, the franchise has moved away from a race-focused conceit to a broader action-heavy approach. Where earlier films were about two import tuner cars racing down the streets, the latter ones preferred explosions and bombast.
Furious 7 is the culmination of that new approach; a film that feels more like it was directed by Michael Bay than any other. Tonally, that’s fine for what is ostensibly a summer blockbuster in April, but from an entertainment perspective it makes for a lot of whizz bang and not enough substance. Obviously, the past films haven’t been particularly heavy on nuance, story, or character, but at least they were fun pieces of popcorn fluff. Furious 7 struggles to hit those same notes.
Leading out of Fast & Furious 6, viewers were set up for a showdown between Dom Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) ragtag gear head crew and ultimate British villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham from The Expendebles 3), but Furious 7 takes the scenic route to get there. Shaw is still a menacing presence throughout the film, and occasionally factors into the second act action sequences before his big reveal, but the film struggles to make him essential to the plot. Rather, mysterious government agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) sends Toretto’s crew on a mission to recover an important piece of surveillance software, which he will then let Dom use to track Shaw. It’s basically a diversion of the worst kind and turns major parts of the film into errands. It’s also wholly confusing since Shaw shows up at nearly every location. Why do you need to find Shaw when he’s regularly presenting himself to you?
Those errands amount to some casually exciting, borderline interesting, set pieces that, on paper, should have been incredible. Cars parachuting out of airplanes, a multi-million dollar car crashing through Middle Eastern skyscrapers – that all sounds like the absurdly brilliant action we’ve come to expect from the Fast and Furious franchise, yet somehow Furious 7 can’t keep up the pace. It may be franchise fatigue or simply a lack of creativity after the initial pitch, but whatever it is the film struggles to hit that high octane level.
Strangely enough, the best parts of the film are the car-less fight sequences, especially an early throw down between Statham’s Shaw and Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs. Again, the thrill level is a bit lacking, but some smart choreography and cinematography help keep these fisticuffs engaging. But really, the film tries to get by based on the names of the actors fighting, not necessarily on the creativity of the action. That’s fine considering this franchise is a worldwide brand and has billions of fans, but it’s hard not to be a little bit nonplussed by it all. You should be on the edge of your seat, but you’re not.
Furious 7 does handle Paul Walker’s tragic passing very well; to the point few will notice the filmmakers have actually used stunt and body doubles to finish his scenes. No one would have been surprised if Furious 7 had simply brushed Walker’s character Brian O’Conner out of the action, but that is not the case. He’s actually just as integral to the crew, maybe even more so, than ever. However, when it comes time to give Walker the actor and the character O’Conner a proper send-off, make sure to prepare the tissues. While some films don’t get the luxury to give their stars an appropriate goodbye, Furious 7 handles things extremely well. It’s a moving set of scenes that are sure to stir up emotions in even the toughest of Fast and Furious fans.
Because of Walker’s passing, hardened responses to Furious 7 are difficult. The film has casually engaging action – although the set-ups themselves are quite absurd – a pretty humdrum story, and character moments that fail to live up to the rapport established in past films. But even then it’s not necessarily bad or unwatchable. Furious 7 can best be summed up as a safe play by the filmmakers, predicated on the big names in its cast and little else. After going for broke the last few entries that may be okay for some, but when Furious 7 hits the 2-hour mark the feelings of franchise fatigue really start to set in. Like with last year’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, this is one of the first times where it felt like a popcorn action flick was just too much. Furious 7 is enjoyable to a point, but there are far better sequels in the franchise.
Furious 7‘s action defies logic, physics, and common sense, and that’s why many will flock to the theater to see it. However, where that absurd approach used to be part of the film’s charm, now it makes for action that is no longer exciting. Cranking the dial past 10 has resulted in a numbness to anything that isn’t at or above that level. Watching cars fall out of an airplane and then hijack a caravan of gun-toting vehicles should be edge-of-your-seat type stuff, but it’s not. Worst of all, the final action sequences, which involve racing down Los Angeles streets, a nimble aerial drone, and a showdown between Vin Diesel’s Domm Toretto and Jason Statham’s Shaw, struggle to be exciting. Again, the stylish cinematography helps give the action a pulse, but it doesn’t give it the same life that past Fast and Furious movies have had. This is by the numbers action, at least by franchise standards.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): James Wan
- Screenwriter(s): Chris Morgan
- Cast: Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto)Paul Walker (Brian O’Conner)Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw) Michelle Rodriguez (Letty)Jordana Brewster (Mia)Tyrese Gibson (Roman)Ludacris (Tej)Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs)Lucas Black (Sean Boswell)Kurt Russell (Mr. Nobody)
- Editor(s): Leigh Folsom Boyd
- Cinematographer: Marc SpicerStephen F. Windon
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Brian Tyler
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA