Movies and real life tend to uncomfortably collide once in awhile, and when the movie world learned of the tragic death of Paul Walker at the end of 2013, the world of the Fast and the Furious had to take a step back for a minute to regroup and mourn. Now, almost 18 months after his tragic passing, Furious 7 is now hitting theatres and while it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations that had been thrust upon it, director James Wan who is now taking over the franchise made a more then solid action romp that will delight audiences and get the job done as fans get to say goodbye to Paul Walker one final time.
The events of London are firmly in their rear view mirror as the crew have gone their separate ways to live the lives of normal citizens and find comfort in their domesticity, or so they thought. While Owen Shaw lies comatose in a London hospital, his older brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) has sworn revenge by any means necessary and he doesn’t care where he has to go, or who he has to kill in order to get the vengeance that he craves.
With expectations understandably through the roof on this installment, Furious 7 doesn’t quite have the gonzo joie de vivre of Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6, but director James Wan settles into big budget action fairly easily while we get an emotional send off for the core group of characters who may get written down or out if this action filled world continues to keep going.
Known primarily for his work in horror, James Wan has a good but not necessarily great eye for action as a lot of the movie feels somewhat dated like it was lifted from a 90’s action movie. Granted that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but some of the beats end up feeling a little forced no matter how well they work. That being said, that action was incredibly well staged and despite leaning on a few more shaky cam moments then I would have cared for it all plays out very well, if only because it goes at a non-stop pace. The script had some weak moments but it managed to tie up so many of the events from the previous movies quite well. Writer Chris Morgan allowed the comedy to be there in moments and it manages to offset some of the darker more stressful things that a lot of these characters have to endure. The stunts and visual effects were great and there were only a handful of moments where you could genuinely tell that it was one of Walker’s brothers standing in for him during the final days of shooting. Wan allows it all to walk the fine line between a bad ass Michael Bay movie, something a little more with its tongue firmly placed in its cheek and a genuinely emotional tale about protecting your family. Most of the primary characters got to shine, but sadly the revenge story was so myopic at times the supporting players bordered on stunt casting at times.
Vin Diesel carried the load quite well as we see this team together for what could very well be there last and most dangerous ride. He carried the emotional gravitas of it all quite well as he tries to coax the memories of their past together out of Leddy (Michelle Rodriguez) who played it well as her character struggles to rebuild the life that she had. Paul Walker is his usual stalwart self but things were obviously cut as Vin was unquestionably the focus it felt less like they were sharing the screen then in years past. Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs was filled with his usual epic one liners and bad ass attitude and it certainly wouldn’t shock me to see them spin his character into a different set of stories entirely. Sadly Jason Statham didn’t get to chew the scenery all that much as the bad guy, he just had to look the part, scowl and keep up with Diesel and Johnson during their fight scenes which ended up being very intense and a hell of a lot of fun. Sadly Ludacris and Tyrese felt much more like background players, Kurt Russell was kind of wasted in a nebulous government stooge type of role which could be fun if he reappears in the franchise, while action star Tony Jaa and MMA powerhouse Ronda Rousey, both of whom had great fight scenes barely registered in the movie at all. Nathalie Emmanuel of Game of Thrones fame also joined the fun but never felt invested for the long haul.
The ultimate reason why this series of movies has worked as well as it has over the past few years is because they own how earnestly ridiculous they actually are, both from an action standpoint and a melodramatic one. While Furious 7 doesn’t quite toe the line as well as the Justin Lin installments do, it makes for one hell of an action movie that provides fans of the franchise an emotional whopper of an ending that allows us to be fine with seeing more action in the future, or wrapping it all up with this installment. Either way would work fine by me.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Action
- Release Date: 4/3/2015
- Directed by: James Wan
- Starring: Dijmon Hounsou, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Ronda Rousey, Sung Kang, Tony Jaa, Tyrese Gibson, Vin Diesel
- Written by: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson
- Studio: Universal