Director: James Wan
Written by: Chris Morgan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
It would have seemed impossible in 2001, when the first Fast & Furious movie premiered, that fourteen years later the franchise would include seven motion pictures and, having earned $3.1 billion at the worldwide box office, be Universal's biggest franchise ever. What began as a small-scale girls-and-cars movie has gradually transformed over the past decade into a big-budget stunt spectacular, with high-wire set pieces that wouldn't look out of place in a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie. In this latest installment, appropriately titled Furious 7, the stunts are bigger and better than ever. More importantly, the same veins of comedy, camaraderie, and family -- which flow throughout the entire franchise -- are on full display in Furious 7, which ranks among the best of the series so far.
Furious 7 tales place shortly after the events of Fast & Furious 6, when Dominic Toretto (Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Walker), and the rest of their gang have returned to the United States after securing amnesty for a laundry list of past crimes. Interrupting their tranquility is Deckard Shaw, a rogue special ops assassin intent on picking off members of Dom's team after they put his villainous younger brother in a coma. With his friends and family threatened, Dom gets the gang back together to stop Shaw before it's too late.
|Furious 7 boasts plenty of gravity-defying stunts.|
The story in Furious 7 isn't anything special. It's a variation of the anti-heroes-fight-villain arc that's defined the series since its second installment. What elevates the proceedings are the action set pieces, which are thrilling and spectacular, and the heartfelt interaction among the movie's protagonists. More on that later.
The action is Furious 7 is fast, frenetic, and decidedly over-the-top. Often in action movies, implausible or exaggerated action scenes turn out to be immersion-breaking and distracting. This was certainly the case during a few of the impractical action scenes in Fast & Furious 6. But Furious 7 deals with the potential landmine early, setting the stage in the opening scene when Deckard Shaw single-handedly takes out a small army protecting his brother's hospital room. It introduces to the audience an idea of heightened reality, of the possibility of the impossible. And that idea is further elaborated upon throughout the movie, as cars fly out of planes, across skyscrapers, and into each other. In a particularly impressive set piece -- maybe the best of the series -- Dom, Brian, and others attack an armored convoy on a winding mountain road an attempt to rescue a kidnapped hacker. Expertly paced, choreographed, and edited, it's the stand-out action scene of the movie.
|Dom's crew cleans up nice.|
When director James Wan (Saw, Indidious) isn't crunching metal, glass, and bodies, he turns his attention to the relationships among Dom's crew. What's kept Fast & Furious afloat for 14 years, apart from the fast cars and half-naked women, is the sense of family and loyalty that binds a ragtag crew of ex-cops, street racers, and criminals together. In one of the more moving moments of the movie, Dom says simply, "I don't have friends. I got family." Wan and Chris Morgan, who penned Furious 7, understand this. Furious 7 is perhaps the most openly emotional of the series, as themes of parenthood, sacrifice, loyalty, and family are unpacked in the quiet moments between car chases.
|Furious 7 concludes with a touching tribute to Paul Walker.|
What makes the movie even more emotionally powerful is the death, two years ago, of Fast & Furious star Paul Walker, who passed away tragically in a car accident with filming for Furious 7 only half complete. Using stunt doubles, including Walker's two brothers, and digital wizardry courtesy of Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, Wan and company were able to redevelop Walker's character and orchestrate his exit from the series. But the sting of his death is felt anytime Walker shows up on screen. As Dom says, "I don't have friends. I got family." After seven movies and fourteen years, Walker is family. And it hurts to see him go.
Luckily for viewers, Furious 7 ends with a beautiful tribute to Walker. It's the perfect way to say goodbye, and it wraps up one of the most emotionally intelligent and entertaining movies of the long-running franchise.