Paul Walker is given a fitting farewell as the crew continue living a quarter mile at a time.
When the unfortunate news of Paul Walker’s death broke, it was hard to see Furious 7, the newest in a juggernaut franchise, being anything but a morbid sombre affair but with Australian James Wan at the helm, the 7th installment of cars doing things they shouldn’t do if potentially the pinnacle of the series. If you weren’t a fan of previous films, it may actually be time to put your differences aside and take another look, just uncross your arms and grab a popcorn.
Picking up 7 where we left off in Furious 6 (and Tokyo Drift if chronology serves me), we find Deckard Shaw pursuing Dominic, Brian and the crew for the crippling of his brother Owen. Having already taken care of Han, Shaw unleashes a bloody assault which launches the team into action, sidelined by the US government’s covert mission for them to retrieve a hacker “Ramsey” who holds software able to track every human on the planet (including Shaw) before it falls into the hands of well stocked terrorist Jakande. What follows is the usual insane stunts, tongue in cheek delivery and bevy of scantily clad women that we have come to expect from the franchise. The movie doesn’t take itself to seriously and won’t be looking to throw any major twists into the plot, this is a fun movie delivered very well.
Wan taking over from Justin Lin who was responsible for the resurgence and advancement of the franchise in Tokyo Drift, Fast And Furious, Fast 5 and Furious 6 after the horrendous 2 Fast 2 Furious was seen as a potential hazard with the Australian’s track record in horror questionably translating to action, but Wan has delivered a film with all the hallmarks of the previous films as well as a more calculated eye in capturing the best angles and intensity in the action sequences. Wan hasn’t taken too many risks, the same slow motion, spinning cameras are seen here, but its his ability to stay away from the pitfalls other action directors lock themselves down with (lense flare, explosions, long angle establishing shots) that keeps the film looking fresh and vital.
The cast is the backbone of the franchise and with all players returning to their roles it feels like the family is back together. Family is at the core of the franchises success and elevation above standard car fodder, the relationships between Paul Walker and Vin Diesel as well as the interplay with their loved ones in Jordanna Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez are developed in ongoing storylines that enable you to remain emotionally invested in the plot. Its even this emotional angle which allows the main villain, Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw to be truly menacing and believable. Where as in previous films the villains have been fueled by greed or power, Shaw is pushed by revenge and love, emotions that will keep him going as evidenced in the games of chicken he and Dom partake in. The supporting players such as Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Dwayne Johnson bring the light relief, their lines delivered with a wink that reminds us we shouldn’t be taking any of this too seriously. The inclusion of Kurt Russell as Mr Nobody and Ronda Rousey as a particularly feisty bodyguard will please many, their cameo spots adding to the glitz of the affair.
Furious 7 delicately deals with Paul Walker’s death throughout the film, subtly referencing it before paying homage at the end and sending Walkers, Brian O’Çonner into the sunset in a way that only seems fitting. It was hard to keep a dry eye, even for somebody that has never considered themselves a fan of Walker or the Furious films, such is the strong emotion emitted from a cast who have truly lost a friend. It will be interesting to see where the franchise goes from this point, having seemingly hit a high water mark for success and a logical conclusion in terms of plot, but with the film likely to eclipse the billion dollar mark, it is unlikely we have seen the last of the characters.
Fast And Furious 7 does exactly what it needs to do, it ups the action quota, it delivers a convincing nemesis, develops notions of masculinity, family and love and provides tribute for a young actor lost too soon. As I have said previously, if you haven’t already, lay down your grudges and take a chance to see this film on the biggest screen possible with a large bucket of popcorn, you won’t come out smarter, but you will have fun and this is what the movies were made for. If you can’t enjoy a car flying then I feel sorry for you.