Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez
The Fast and the Furious franchise is an anomaly in the film world. The franchise has actually continued to grow more popular and garner larger box office returns with each consecutive film. Typically franchises start strong and fizzle, as fans grow tired of the films. Furious 7 just had the largest opening weekend for the franchise to date, seven films in!
There are lots of reasons that this film made so much bank. The obvious sad reason is that fans wanted to see Paul Walker in his last role on film since he passed away during the production of this film. Other factors for this film’s success could be that fan favorite Michelle Rodriguez returned to the franchise and the addition of The Rock to the ensemble has also been well received. A final element that played into the success of Furious 7 is that the last two films were well received by fans and by critics. I was not a fan of the films through the first five installments. They just seemed a little too dumb and focused on skin and ridiculous looking cars; that stuff is fodder for young boys. The fifth and sixth films however saw the franchise morph into drive-in action flicks that survived on cast chemistry and over the top stunts. The films remained dumb but they became more palpable and fun for all ages. I actually quite enjoyed the sixth one as dumb as it was so I found myself anticipating a Fast and the Furious film. Wait…really?
The previous film ended on a cliffhanger that saw new villain Deckard Shaw kill Han while he was racing in Japan. This little ending not only set up the next film it cleverly brought the oddball Tokyo Drift installment in the franchise into story canon. Shaw is the brother of the villain in the sixth film and he is out for revenge in Furious 7. So the crew gets back together to stop this guy before he kills them all. The problem is that Shaw is a ghost that’s impossible to find. So in comes Mr. Nobody, a black ops agent that is on a mission to recover a hacker and device that will let the crew film Shaw wherever he is hiding. Even though it appears Mr. Nobody has all of the resources any underground agent could hope for he needs the Furious team to get the device for him. You might ask why at this point, well don’t. The minute you ask why the entire film falls apart. Again you may be tempted to ask why when the team goes into action and they are sent to an area that apparently can’t be reached by a standard vehicle even though their prey is in a bus protected by several other vehicles. Oh and the mysterious Shaw is able to just drive into the fray and throw a monkey wrench into plans too. Like I said, don’t ask why.
The previous film was definitely dumb and there were plenty of eyebrow raisers but none as bad as what is in Furious 7. The sixth film never felt like one more turn would send the entire story off the deep end but Furious 7 feels that way from beginning to end. That’s the bad news, and yeah it’s pretty bad but in reality the problems are only one step of silliness beyond the previous films in the franchise. So in a way, all of this should be expected.
The good news is the fun factor is dialed up even further in this film than in the sixth one. This one is even funnier and the chemistry between the actors is on point. It’s so apparent that they are having a blast that you just want to go on the journey with them. Furious 7 had me laughing out loud several times and the many action scenes were a total thrill ride. So yeah, the plot is almost a disaster but everything else, including a solid fast pace, makes up for that. I came out of the theater feeling like I had a really fun time. Now there is a tribute to Paul walker at the end of the film that just feels completely out of place for the character and the end of the film. In order to set up the tribute Toretto also does something that just feels completely out of place for the film. The tribute is nice but it should have been kept to the blu-ray bonus features.
This isn’t one for the IMAX but the gorgeous, sometimes glutinous wide shots and action require seeing the film in theaters. It’s real dumb, but it’s also real fun.