The fact that Furious 7 marks the latest instalment in this 15-year franchise – over half my life – is in itself remarkable. There have been ups and downs (a lot more downs) along this 15-year ride and this film may not count as the best in the series – that honour goes to Fast Five but it certainly will be the most memorable for obvious albeit unfortunate reasons. Through this run, one of the more impressive things this series has done is give some meaning to its predecessors where maybe it may not have been warranted, especially Tokyo Drift which was panned back in the day but still serves its purpose as this nitrous fueled universe develops here, where revenge is front and centre with the head of the family himself, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) leading the charge.
Audiences who want some investment in the story may be a little frustrated because the film works with some level of continuity as events here stretch back to the third entry of this franchise. Viewers of Fast and Furious 6 and Tokyo Drift will be aware of the demise of Han (Sung Kang) and this sets the film’s plot in motion along with a package mailed from Tokyo which nearly kills Toretto and his best friend and in-law, Brian (Paul Walker) along with his wife and kid. Behind the bomb and Han’s death is Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a lethal Englishman (insert your own SAS and all that jazz CV) who also has revenge on his mind as earlier( in the previous instalment of this series), Toretto and the gang took out Deckard’s brother Owen. Deckard finds out the identity of his brother’s killers by hacking the computer of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). This sequence gifts us the first of many intense fight sequences as The Rock squares off against The Transporter in an extremely gratifying battle of finesse and brawn that even throws in the “Rock Bottom” for WWE nerds out there.
In light of these events, Toretto reassembles his crew, which includes Brian, Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges) the tech guy, Roman (Tyrese) the resident joker, and Dominic’s partner, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who, the films is kind enough to remind us early on, still has her amnesia (refer to wiki for details). Deckard here is described time and time again as a shadow and he might as well have been Torreto’s actual shadow because he manages to show up wherever Toretto is evoking Robert Patrick from T2 as fists, wrenches and cars collide. This duel gives us an entrée into the subplot which has a ridiculously powerful surveillance device that beats the hell out of the Machine or the Eagle Eye or any surveillance system in fictional history. This program basically uses surveillance cameras, cell phones and everything electrical to track anybody anywhere. The film’s secondary antagonist, Jakonde played by Djimon Hounsou appears to have the device and Toretto’s team is recruited by a black ops operative called Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) to retrieve this device. The perk here is Torreto will be granted access to the device to track down Deckard and complete the vengeance foretold.
Furious 7’s director, James Wan, of course, shoots this film like a commercial and he gives boners to car enthusiast with his hyper panning shots of sleek chassis and regular boners to some with his numerous ogling shots of the racks and bums of bikini-clad women then, of course, there’s the action which we all turned up for. I hated the previous film because I felt it adopted a plain and lazy approach to its characters when it should have at least tried, and more importantly because most of the films hyperkinetic sequences were telegraphed in the trailer. I think the same trailer issues may have feature and my sympathies to those whose viewing experiences were tainted because I did not see this trailer.
For the rest of us, this is one action-packed adrenaline fest that takes us to woody Azerbaijan of all places and the glamorous heights of Dubai skyscrapers, which had me quipping Fast and Furious: Ghost Protocol. Wan incredibly delivers not just bigger and faster sequences involving cars but also very inventive and superior ones which leave us in riveting awe. The fight scenes are also choreographed with and impressive an arcade aura about them with most of them being regular intimate one-on-ones. The highlight is probably Michelle Rodriguez extreme battle with another femme fatale whilst donned in ball gowns. If you are going to put a bad ass like Rodriguez in a dress it better be worth it and it sure is.
I can’t say the characters have developed that much from day one and Torreto is still on his family agenda and after 15 years I think it’s fair to say we kind of buy into it. I immensely enjoyed the wittering between Tej and Roman and the film derives its best comic moments from these two characters. I dare say I wouldn’t mind watching those two on a two-hour road trip. Statham and Hounsou are formidable screen presences and I feel they were grossly underutilised in their roles as the primary villains and that took the film down a peg, but we do get Kurt Russell with his wryly smile and night vision dark glasses as he takes out assailants in a warehouse and that was everything.
Furious 7 does what it says on the tin and delivers the entertainment most audiences walked in for. I try to avoid premier weekends because I hate packed theatres but screenings were packed on a Monday afternoon – people loved this film. The film ends with a tribute to Paul Walker. It really is moving and manages to break through my stone heart. It’s just puzzling that they attached it to the film considering the numerous car crashes ant the close shaves with death Paul Walker has in this film but as someone who enjoyed the numerous dark and facetious jokes following his death, I can’t say that bothered me. Do we get a new Fast and Furious movie? I hope not. This is probably the best possible finale and I do hope seal is put on it. But this film will be making 1 billion so…