Get ready for an extravaganza. So do you remember the villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) from Fast & Furious 6? It’s okay if you don’t, but being that Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and company left him hospitalized, his big bad brother (Jason Statham) is out for blood. This is a series that has been a number of different things in the past, but it has evolved into something that demands that you see it in a theater. What started off as a simple story between a street racer and an undercover cop has turned into an over the top thriller about a criminal ensemble pulling off impossible international heists. Not to put this series down, but with where this series is now, they have cherry picked every ounce of praise that has ever gone toward a Michael Bay movie, while managing to leave all of the juvenile frat boy humor at the door. You’ve got gigantic action set pieces that are well filmed and leave you breathless, ridiculous characters that have reached superhero levels of invulnerability, and booty montages galore. It’s everything you signed up for, and while it is almost always a cartoon, that doesn’t change the fact that it wildly entertains.
I love how so many times the solution in this series is to get on top of a speeding car.
The biggest story surrounding this film is Paul Walker’s untimely death. As you’re probably well aware, Walker tragically passed after getting into a fatal car accident last November. He had already finished most of his scenes, so they still went ahead with this film. I do like Walker as an actor; while he never reached the pinnacle level of first rate actor, I always liked it whenever he showed up because he tries so hard. He is good in his final film, and because everybody knows about this story outside of the film, it adds this very interesting layer of tension throughout; you are never certain what is going to be the final word with his character, and it makes the danger even more palpable. And this would be the movie where something bad would happen, too; while it’s still ludicrous at every twist and turn (no pun intended), it is getting serious in that people are actually dying now. Ultimately though, it is a pitch perfect sendoff for an actor that will be dearly missed.
This movie is all about larger than life spectacle and testosterone-filled macho lines. At this point, you have got to have that wow factor that takes it up even a level further than the previous movie had already established. To keep uping the ante so as to outdo itself, Furious 7 goes further than it has to at every single presented opportunity. There are so many points here where it feels like they are using an atomic bomb to hammer in a nail, and I love James Wan for it. This is the first installment he’s taken the director’s chair, officially taking the reins from Justin Lin, and I hope he continues to direct these, as he has cool photography and camera tricks for days. On top of that, they make even more additions to the already robust cast with Statham, Kurt Russell and Djimon Hounsou, and every single male featured is trying to be manlier than the next.
If you were to call this movie stupid, I would not be able to argue with you. It’s not the most intelligent film that you are going to see released this year, nor does it claim to be. That said, it could very well be the most entertaining one; it knows exactly what it is and embraces it. There is maybe 45 minutes of story in here, and the rest is pure, unadulterated pulse-pounding action. Go and watch this on as big of a screen as possible, and get ready to stand up and cheer.
Furious 7 (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire