Directed by James Wan
Written by Chris Morgan
After a mild downswing from the heights of Fast Five to Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7 announces a return to form of sorts to the highest level action movie franchise on the planet. I think the success of this series has been predicated on the absurdity of the stunts, and the crews ability to execute them, and with Furious 7, we get even more ludicrous and exciting action scenes. It really feels like a perfect melding of the two previous films. It’s a movie whose plot and narrative are somewhat secondary, but unlike 6, 7 is able to present some memorable and all-timer type action scenes to carry the film from start to finish, while introducing interesting new characters whose motives and backgrounds, admittedly, might be suspect, but whose presence is more than welcome and elevates the film.
After putting Owen Shaw in a coma and gaining their freedom back in the US, Dom (Vin Diesel) and team (Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson) are confronted by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Owen’s brother who is out for revenge and already killed Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) presents the team with an offer: help him and his nondescript government team rescue hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who has developed God’s Eye, a program designed to utilize the worldwide electronics to pinpoint anyone’s location at any time, from mercenary Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). In return, Mr. Nobody will help the team locate Deckard Shaw.
This film is very notable within the series because of the tragic passing of Paul Walker in the middle of filming. Such a central piece to the series dying in the middle is really sad and really turbulent for the execution of the film. The filmmakers rewrote a lot of the film, and the minor miracle of the movie is how they are able to basically pull it out to perfection. I cannot think of a more perfect way to send out Brian and Paul together given the circumstances. The film concludes with an extended sequence of the team sending him off which includes Brian and Mia playing with Jack on the beach, and Brian and Dom “racing” on last time as brothers, and a montage of Brian/Paul through the series, all to the tune of Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again”. The way they pull this off is incredibly moving and elevates what was already a great film right at the end. And speaking to the CGI they used in places to project Paul Walker, they mostly pull it off. You can see the seams a little bit, but the emotions of the scene really cover any of that up. Really, really, extremely well done and I just wanted to spend the time to comment on this and pay my respects to what Paul Walker meant to this series. I said he wasn’t a great actor in my review of the first film, but he has really grown on me and will truly be missed in the series.
So, to the rest of the film, the plotting is really somewhat clunky. Deckard Shaw showing up for revenge makes sense, but the side plot with Mr. Nobody and Ramsey gets a little off the rails and excessive in my opinion, even if it allows the filmmakers to once again execute great action scenes. Jakande is severely underdeveloped and I don’t fully understand who or what Mr. Nobody is and what his motives are. We learn far too little to truly trust this process. Hobbs’ involvement is also interesting. I understand Johnson and Diesel had/have a legitimate off-screen beef, but his presence in this film is very minimal and not nearly as involved as he should be. He gets his butt kicked in the opening moments and disappears again until the end.
However, the plotting is secondary to the canvas it provides for the artistry of the stunts and action scenes. While the safe heist scene from Fast Five is the greatest in the series, the Caucasus Mountains sequence is right up there and could easily challenge the safe scene for best in the series. And once again I’m amazed that they actually parachuted cars out of a plane. That scene is just breathtaking. It’s so incredible you can’t believe it. But even after the cars land, the chase scene, which is a solid 15 minutes or so, is also masterfully choreographed, right up to the bit where Brian runs up the bus falling off the mountain and is saved by a precision fish-tail from Letty, who quips, “You good?” in the most matter-of-fact fashion imaginable. Incredible!
But wait, there’s more! We also get to see Ronda Rousey fight Letty, and we get to see a seriously high end car fly from tower to tower to tower (that’s three towers!) in Abu Dhabi. The finale action scene is not nearly as good, mostly muddled by taking place at night with lots of darkness and explosions to mask any sort of precision filmmaking. It’s a CGI mess with good things and bad things. But really the thing I took away most from this film, was how much of a brotherhood and family this series has really become, because I was not expecting the gut-punch I got out of the Paul Walker tribute scene at the end. We’ve spent so much time with this crew, so many adventures. That scene, along with the few stellar action scenes, really makes this one of the best of the series and easily one of the most entertaining. Well done.