John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Furious 7 Poster

Furious 7

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller

Director: James Wan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Lucase Black, Jason Statham

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: April 3rd, 2015

There’s something beautifully innocent about Fast Seven. Much like many of its predecessors, its themes about family are obviously stated but here,
those lines hit harder considering that this film marks the final onscreen appearance of Paul Walker, who tragically died during production.

Walker was a member of the core family of this franchise but he, as has been stated by some of his cast mates, felt like a member of their personal families as well so while the lines about family have been said before, they resonate more here because a member of the family is no longer with us.

Beyond being a celebration of Walker (for whom the film is rightly dedicated), Fast Seven is one of the few films in the franchise that wholeheartedly embraces its potential. It is fun, it is outrageous and it is a movie that exists as something deeper than a series of action sequences.

More so than many of its predecessors, the entire plot here is wrapped around the issue of family. After the end of Fast and Furious 6, it was obvious that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was on the war path after his brother was seriously injured. “You never should have messed with a man’s family,” Shaw notes setting up the battle here between the Shaw family and the Fast family, who lost of their own in Fast and Furious 6.

After sidelining Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in an office with way too many glass walls, Shaw continues on his mission to destroy everyone else on the team, even putting the innocent son of Brian O’Conner (Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) at risk.

What proceeds from there is a set of action pieces that are both ridiculous in their over-the-top dramatics and thrilling in their exuberance. The scriptwriters know what they are aiming for here and they do it while bluntly winking at the audience. During one dramatic scene, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)— Brian’s partner in crime— drives a car from the high floor of one building to the next. “Cars don’t fly,” Brian notes but the filmmakers know otherwise. Cars can fly if you let them.

Like in the Bond films, these characters go through endless bruises and car crashes without suffering the consequences. In multiple scenes, Toretto is in terrible car accidents— he’s in at least one head-on collision and a major crash that sees his car falling endlessly down a desert hill— but he survives both without a scar. To the film’s credit though, Toretto’s condition is seldom in doubt. We know he’ll survive because he does.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Toretto opens the mangled car door after he’s in these accidents and walks out of them without the dramatic pause we see in other action films. It’s an annoying cliché when an action film relies on the tiresome idea that a character could die after a bad accident. Here, there is only one time where Toretto’s life actually seems on the line.

It’s not hard to find something to criticize about the Fast films and admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of the last entry in the series. Here though, the film nicely balances the emotional scenes with the action. The plot is secondary (the team is trying to locate a computer program that can track down anyone on the planet), of course, but it works well enough to keep the story moving with the support of a new character named Mr. Nobody, played by a well-chosen Kurt Russell.

But Toretto sums up the film’s core ideals nicely when he turns to O’Conner, who is struggling with being a Dad and an action addict, and notes “Everybody’s looking for their thrill but what’s real is family.” Fortunately, Furious 7 offers both.

Review by: John Hanlon