Furious 7 (2015)

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It’s absurd, heartfelt, action-packed, hilariously corny, physics defying, balls-to-the-wall, zero to sixty in three seconds, turn off your brain kind of fun. Furious 7 is everything I expected in a 14-year-long running franchise that’s only getting better with age. While not perfect, even according to my “dumb fun” popcorn movie standards, it still delivers the kind of entertainment one hopes to experience at least a few times a year at the theater. “This time it ain’t just about being fast,” so don’t overthink it, embrace your guilty pleasures, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

After the events of Fast & Furious 6, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), and friends are now being hunted by Owen Shaw’s (Luke Evans) big bad brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Meanwhile, a government official who calls himself Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) recruits Dom and his team to save a computer hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who has been kidnapped by a terrorist named Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). He wants to get his hands on a program she created called “God’s Eye,” which will allow him to tap into any device with a lens and track anyone anywhere on the planet in a matter of seconds. Mr. Nobody promises Dom that if he saves her and retrieves this chip, he can use it to track down Shaw and kill him before he does anymore damage to their family.

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James Wan, who is known for directing horror movies like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring, takes over Justin Lin’s seat in the director’s chair. Wan has a knack for elements like tension and suspense, and you can feel it here more than in the previous films. Not to mention, Statham’s character is like a Furious version of a Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees, a near invincible human being popping up out of nowhere without explanation of how he got there, and wreaking havoc on anyone he can. Unfortunately, Wan doesn’t quite have the same eye for action, resorting to the old shaky cam, close-up shots, and quick cuts, making for quite a few nauseating fight sequences. But there are plenty of insane set pieces rivaling anything that has come before to make up for some of that. You’ve got cars parachuting out of an airplane, Paul Walker running on top of a bus teetering off the edge of a cliff, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson jumping out of tall buildings, and cars flying through skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. A lot of great, crazy fun is packed into this movie, and if you ask me, it blows the sixth film right out of the water.

Now let’s look at a few of the things I had issues with. First off, I have to inform everyone that I’m a huge supporter of “The Rock” and that I believe he’s the best thing to ever happen to this franchise. I’m serious. Sure, the fifth film was good because it had united all these characters together and it was a cool heist movie that was wildly entertaining, but don’t even tell me the addition of The Rock had nothing to do with the turning point of this series. They threw him in Fast Five and he totally owned the screen. His character, Hobbs, is the most ridiculous character in the entire franchise, he’s got gigantic muscles and the cheesiest one-liners you could imagine, but best of all, he’s a badass–he’s got everything you would want in a character for this type of movie. It was a sin he was so under utilized, and whoever’s idea it was to reduce his role to a mere cameo needs a good old slap across the face. But I’ll admit he still owned the little screen time he had, which included scenes walking the streets of L.A. with a giant machine gun, busting out of an arm cast like the Hulk, and getting to say awesome lines like, “Woman, I am the calvary.” Long live Dwayne Johnson.

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Still on the topic of under utilization: Tony Jaa. I’m really not surprised, because with the exception of Gina Carano in the sixth film, the awesome fighters they cast in these movies usually get reduced to a small henchman role with little screen time. It sucks. He shined brightly with the small time he was given, though, but Hollywood really doesn’t know what to do with martial artists. Oh, and Ronda Rousey really needs to take some acting lessons if she’s going to be doing movies on a regular basis now. She’s a badass and I love her, but her facial expressions are ridiculous and she really gives Vin Diesel a run for his money on the bad acting front.

They also made Jason Statham’s character a bit of a side story, which I wasn’t expecting to happen. He doesn’t have as much screen time as you’d think, and I wish we could’ve had more of him. He was great and he makes a genuinely threatening villain, he can also throw a punch or two, or fifty, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

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I also found it hilarious in the scene that’s supposed to take place on the same day Tokyo Drift ends, Lucas Black, who is supposed to be a high school student, looks like a 40-year-old dude now. He’s only 32, but man, it is obvious as hell this film is taking place nine years after that one, and it takes you right out of the movie for a bit. On the same kind of subject, the CGI’d Paul Walker face in the some of the scenes is a little noticeably distracting. I’m not going to complain, though, because what kind of a person would I be, right? I’m just saying, you’ll probably notice.

I’d be lying if I said that the sadness related to Paul’s death didn’t overshadow this movie a little bit. Dying young and so sudden like that is an awful thing, and seeing him in this is a bit like watching a ghost. There’s a few sentimental moments in the movie involving his character, Brian, and Mia (Jordana Brewster) as he struggles to adapt to the fatherly life, but the last few minutes of the film are a full blown tribute to him, allowing his co-stars and us as an audience to say good-bye to both Paul and Brian. Yes, I got choked up, really choked up, it’s hard not to when you’ve spent so many years of your life watching him. All I can say is that it was done in a tasteful way, and I’m pretty sure Paul would’ve been pleased.

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Furious 7 is totally over-the-top absurdity, but it’s some honestly good popcorn entertainment for sure. I really enjoyed seeing the characters again, I think that the theme of “family” that seemed so forced in the previous movies actually holds some real sentiment now, and I’m sure that Paul’s real life tragedy has something to do with that. I liked the addition of Kurt Russell and Jason Statham to the cast, there were some underused actors like Dwayne Johnson, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, and Statham to an extent, but the action makes up for some of what’s lacking in character.

In the end, it does a decent job delivering on what you’d expect, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you most likely won’t be disappointed. It’s good, dumb fun with a real emotional element, and includes a lovely send off to the late Paul Walker.

4/5

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18 thoughts on “Furious 7 (2015)

  1. The God’s Eye subplot was so unnecessary. They didnt need to hunt Statham when he keeps appearing at every major set piece. And in Abu Dhabi, he literally shows up in one of the towers, effectively meaning Vin could’ve fought him there. From the looks of it, the subplot was shoehorned in just to repeatedly place Walker’s character in constant danger. I understand it was meant to invoke tension and danger, but I didn’t feel it. Especially when the stunts were so over-the-top and death defying, yet everyone walks away literally unscathed each time. The other movies despite the insane and fun action, had a sense of danger. F7 failed to break even as it went off the rails while the characters turned virtually indestructible.

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    • I agree that subplot was very, very dumb. It was also an excuse to add in different backdrops to the film, i.e. Abu Dhabi, but served no logical purpose. I feel like the characters have always been indestructible, except when they feel like killing someone off to further a plot line. They’ve always had crazy stunts and have walked away virtually unscathed each time. Of course, they push it to the limits and beyond here. It’s just one of those movies I’ve accepted as being dumb, but still fun.

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  2. Nice review, i was disappointed with the lack of the rock too, but i did like the fact we had a solo villain because how often have we had the solo hero just turn up in location where the villains are, i thought it was a nice turn on what we have seen so many times.

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  3. Excellent review as ever 🙂 and I really, really mean that!!!!

    That opening paragraph was a scorcher! And I cannot wait to watch this! You’ve made it sound even better and I was looking forward to it anyway!!!!!

    I mean…Kurt Russell, the emotion surrounding Paul Walker….Jason Statham as a Michael Myers type of baddie (amazing)…..James Wan directing!!!! (I had no idea) this actually sounds too epic for words.

    Only thing I’m slightly upset about – The Rock. I ❤ him too, LOADS! And I totally agree with him being the most ridiculous character in the series. He kind of reminded me of some sort of bug that had been through a nuclear attack. I'm sad he won't be in this as much. But it looks as though we have more than enough to entertain us still!

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    • Right? How can you not love The Rock? He’s ridiculous and amazing. More than enough to entertain still, for sure even though the end is a bit of a tear jerker. Thanks Emma! Hope you enjoy it.

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  4. Wonderful thoughts. I enjoyed this a ton, and place it under 5 (my favorite) and on the level of the first. I’d rank them as 5>1>7>6>4>3>2.
    I believe Wan did a really great job for an action novice for all intents and purposes, but at this point, he films widescale action (the mountains and the Abu Dhabi sequence!) better than hand to hand. It isn’t Alex Cross bad, but it lacks the impact that Lin’s framing had.
    Still, this was a damn solid blockbuster. Getting this on Blu-Ray.

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    • Thanks! I still like 5 the best too. That’s very true, he delivered some great widescale action sequences, but failed to impress with the hand to hand combat shots. I think Wan did a pretty good job overall though. It’s a fun movie and you gotta respect that tribute at the end, there’s no better way it could’ve ended in my opinion. I’ll definitely be watching this again when it comes out on blu-ray.

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    • Thank you! If you liked the last 2 you’ll definitely like this one. Ronda Rousey would be tolerable if she wasn’t given any lines. People should really stop giving her lines.

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