The very first Fast And Furious film came out when I was 7 years old. I watched the first six movies, marathon style when I was 19. Now it’s 2015, I’m 20 years old, and I’m talking about Furious 7. This installment adds Jason Statham and Kurt Russell to the mix of characters, James Wan steps into the director chair, and the action becomes even more absurd than ever before.
I’m not going to delve into the plot for this movie, one because I don’t want to spoil anything, and because it doesn’t really matter. I’ll just say that the bad guy from the sixth film has a brother who hunts down the Furious crew. Especially since their resurgence with Fast Five, it’s been style over substance. They’ve replaced well developed stories with fun action. That is what we want to see and why this franchise is still successful. Like the two before it, I had a lot of fun watching Furious 7 because of this.
Almost immediately the movie tells you to put yourself in a state of disbelief. There’s a fight scene early on with two men, one very larger than the other. You probably know who I’m talking about. While watching this, my rational thinking was saying no, not possible. But I realized, there are two parts of me that watch a movie. One is the logical, fact checking person that analyzes every scene. Then there’s the other part of me that just wants to have fun and stuff popcorn into my face. The latter part had a blast and the other fell asleep. That’s the best way for me to explain this movie. It is completely unbelievable and incredibly enjoyable.
The filmmakers know that nearly all of the action sequences are unrealistic, so they just push the limit as far as they can. It is essentially a comedy. The climax of the film was so over the top that I was laughing more than I have in a movie this year. It is filled with ’80s and ’90s one liners that you’re used to hearing from Arnold Schwarzenegger. But The Rock is pretty much the Schwarzenegger of the 21st century.
This is less a criticism of the film, but more of the marketing for it, specifically the trailers. The first trailer we saw showed Walker climbing a bus about to fall off a cliff and miraculously getting saved by Michelle Rodriguez. We also saw the cars skydiving out of a plane. Then a third time, it was when I was watching TV that I saw them jumping a car from building to building. Those were the best stunts in the whole movie. I wish I could have watched the movie having no idea they were about to drive out of a skyscraper. During the build up for them, all I was thinking about is that I knew what was going to happen.
Although plot is put on auto pilot, it should still pass a basic sanity check. That is where the movie begins to fall apart. The story becomes convoluted, with too much going on. Statham plays the primary villain who just shows up where ever the main characters are. For a good chunk in the middle, he would randomly show up, cause trouble, get away, and do it again at the next location. That part of the script seemed lazy and too convenient. Russell also shows up periodically for some reason irrelevant to the main story. I enjoyed his performance but his character was unnecessary.
Much of the stories concerning this movie revolve around the late Paul Walker and his last role. When he died, I had not seen him act before. He is not a great actor. He is a very likable actor with lots of charisma. From the first movie on, he has been my favorite character. I won’t watch the third movie because he is not in it. He has terrific chemistry with the rest of the cast, specifically Vin Diesel. Their relationship is probably the strongest part of the whole franchise. If we do see an 8th installment, I am going to miss that a lot. Luckily they’ve built a great cast to continue the franchise if they do. The scenes with Walker’s brother weren’t very noticeable either. I assume they filmed him from far away or while he’s running and don’t have to focus on his face. For the situation they were in, they handled it well. His send off at the end was very emotional and well done. I’m sure there were tears by many fans watching the ending. Walker has left a great legacy with these movies and will continue to be loved and missed.
I would probably rank this movie somewhere below the first and fifth films. It delivered on the fun action experience I was expecting and entertained me throughout, despite its long running time. Having to do rewrites to work around Walker’s death made the story suffer a bit, but that was never the most important part of the movie. I would have liked to see more of The Rock as well, who only showed up at the beginning and the end. It beautifully said goodbye to one of its best characters and acts as a good conclusion to the franchise.