The Fast & Furious films are one of the most interesting franchises in Hollywood. What started off as basically a car-centric Point Break remake has blossomed into huge set pieces, a massive ever expanding mythology, and all the moneys. Inexplicably, the films struck gold with the fifth installment in the series. Fast Five is not only a great movie and the best in the series, but it’s a movie that manages to tie into everything that came before it. I really didn’t start watching these movies until Five and with it I fell in love with this entire series. They’ve managed to reinvent themselves over the course of the franchise while still staying true to the mythology and Dom’s ‘family before all else’ motto. In the latest film Justin Lin, director of the previous four movies has stepped aside and James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) has taken over. I’m happy to say that the franchise is in good hands. Furious Seven is a fun, enjoyable movie that manages to take things in new directions while still feeling like it fits right in to the F&F universe.
Before I go on, I’m sure you’re all mostly curious about how the film handles the death of Paul Walker. Furious Seven‘s tone is much darker than some of the previous movies and Walker’s tragedy hangs like a shadow over the entire thing. Every moment you see Brian O’Connor doing some crazy stunt you’re wondering if this is it, if this is how they do it. It’s hard to watch the film without thinking about it the entire time and the movie does a great job of acknowledging that fact. While I won’t spoil things for you, I can safely say that the franchise honors both Walker and O’Connor in a near perfect way. It’s a heartfelt and beautiful sendoff that will, I’m sure, reduce some of you to tears.
The film picks up right after the end of Fast & Furious 6 after the gang has defeated that film’s villain, Owen Shaw. In doing so they’ve managed to piss off Shaw’s big brother Deckard (Jason Statham), an insane former government agent of some kind. Shaw strikes out at Dom Teretto’s gang first blowing up their house in California and then murdering Han (Sung Kang) in Japan (Han was actually killed in the third movie Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, but these movies are so amazing that they managed to completely tie everything together perfectly and god damnit I love this franchise). To defeat Shaw, Dom agrees to work with a shady government organization led by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to find a stolen computer program capable of tracking anyone on the planet. They’ll use this program to find Shaw and bring the battle to him. And we’re off! This plot is absolutely ridiculous. I acknowledge this. But the beautiful thing about the Fast & Furious franchise is that it really doesn’t matter. The plot of these films was always the vehicle to set up great characters, wonderful character interaction, and outrageous set pieces. And in that Furious Seven succeeds.
Unfortunately, when the team all assembles for the caper, we get to see the first problem with Furious Seven. The group is tiny. As it turns out the loss of Gisele and Han have really hurt the “family” feel of Dom’s group. What’s worse, for some reason The Rock is reduced to basically a cameo role. It’s a cameo that involves him breaking out of an arm cast by flexing and throwing an ambulance at things, but still just a cameo none the less. The result is Furious Seven ends up primarily being the Vin Diesel show. The movie mostly focuses on him and him alone. This could be a result of the rewrites caused by Walker’s death, but it hurts the film a little. The best part about these movies (besides the parts where they drive cars real fast into/out of things) has been the interaction between the characters. Furious Seven is missing some of this.
On the bright side, newcomer Kurt Russel as Mr. Nobody is wonderful. The character is the perfect amount of strange to fit perfectly into the group and you can tell that Russell is having an absolute blast playing him. Rumors are already circling around this character playing a much larger role in the inevitable F&F 8. Based on his performance here, I can’t wait.
So I’ve managed to write for almost 750 words without talking about any of the action in the film. It’s amazing! James Wan likes to use CGI a little more than Lin did, and it’s definitely noticeable, but it doesn’t hurt the film at all. The set pieces are huge and incredible. The skydiving cars scene that’s been plastered all over the trailers is a high point in the series. It’s perfectly executed and paced from start to finish. The whole thing is just so damn fun. The ending action scene of the movie, while not as good as either the endings of Fast Five nor Fast & Furious 6, is huge and impressive. I think it’s safe to say that the series is safe in Wan’s hands.
Furious Seven is the perfect summer blockbuster. It’s huge, exciting, fun as hell, and capped off with some great emotional beats. It’s tough to predict where the series will go from here. Walker’s death will, I’m sure, force the series to change some things around. But this series has proven more than capable of reinventing itself when needed. I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Pablo, this weekend you turned the world into a family…Thanks for the love…
Posted by Vin Diesel on Sunday, April 5, 2015
God I love these movies.