After Fast Five from 2011, the Fast and Furious franchise got suddenly injected with new life making way for an entirely new direction the franchise headed for. Now feeling more like heist movies, Furious 7 is the newest entry in the series.
Sadly though, Furious 7's production got hit with a big problem when main actor Paul Walker tragically passed away in a car accident in mid-production. Production on the movie resultingly got put on hold for quite some time until it was decided to finish the movie and do Walker's unfilmed scenes with the help of CGI and his two brother as stand-ins.
Sure enough, Furious 7 has had a very problematic backstory. Question is, if talented director James Wan is able to nevertheless make Furious 7 a satisfying flick that additionally poses as a worthy final movie from Paul Walker.
Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw's brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called "Mr. Nobody" are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God's Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God's Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.
The Fast and the Furious franhise is a very special one. There are only rarely any movie franchises with so many installments that actually don't get worse but pretty much better with its later installments. Directed by talented movie maker James Wan, Furious 7 picks up right where Fast & Furious 6 left off. With that said, Furious 7 overall fits in very well into the franchise's new heist-oriented action formula and even adds a very surprising amount of new emotional depth to it.
However, that doesn't mean that Furious 7 is one of the most realistic action movies around. Ultimately, Furious 7 is still a very simple and incredibly over-the-top action movie romp. Putting most of its focus on exhilirating action scenes, the Fast and Furious franchise might be quite cheesy, loud and overblown in its action, yet the franchise learned how to embrace this with such an appealing self-confidence and ambition that it always knows how to make all of it still entertaining. Different from Michael Bay's Transformers franchise, the Fast & Furious franchise always manages to raise the stakes, tell a chronologically progressing bigger story and still somehow feel exciting with each entry.
|The Rock against Statham? - Count me and the rest of the world in!|
The biggest and most advertised new theme in Furious 7 is "revenge". Picking up right where Fast & Furious 6 left off, Furious 7 has Deckard Shaw (played by Jason Statham), brother of FF6's antagonist, swear to avenge his brother's death. Thus, Shaw is mercilessly hunting down the Fast and Furious crew and killing everything in his way to take them out.
Probably the biggest villain role Jason Statham has had up until now, Statham as Deckhard Shaw does a great job in making many scenes of the movie feel very tense. Right from the start it gets clear that he impersonates somewhat of a Winter Solider or Terminator-esque villain who is nearly impossible to stop. On top of that, numerous mercenary forces help Shaw on his revenge quest and therefore increase his deadly capabilities. With Shaw described as an assassin who is always stalking his targets until finally killing them off, Furious 7 starts off with an intriguing premise that establishes a feel of paranoia among the group - yet also hatred (hence the title "Furious 7"). To now turn the tables, the Furious gang instead sets out to combine their strength to take out Deckhard Shaw instead after having found out that he killed one of their team members, Han (the ending scene of Fast & Furious 6).
|You really don't want to make Statham angry.|
However, Furious 7's strong revenge-premise after a short while sadly becomes somewhat of a subplot after Vin Diesel and his crew get to know a covert ops team operative called Frank Petty (played by Kurt Russell), who insists to help the crew take out Shaw if Vin Diesel helps him to obtain a very powerful surveillance device, The God's Eye, from a mercenary called Jakande.
From now on, the movie mainly focusses on this as the main plot thread making the revenge-movie feel take a backseat to something that feels more like Mission Impossible. While that isn't necessarily something bad since it gives way to many cool heist action scenes and chases, it does give the whole threat of getting killed by Shaw at any minute a very secondary feel. Now, Shaw only appears occasionally out of nowhere during an action scene to make things tough for the crew who is just trying to get the God's Eye back.
Granted, the two plot threads of Shaw's revenge and the God's Eye indeed manage to make Furious 7 feel bigger, yet it also occasionally makes it feel like the movie for most of the time is somehow losing focus. The biggest indicator of this feel is that viewers will undoubtedly wish that Jason Statham's character would've been a bit more consistently implemented into the movie's happenings.
|At some point it all suddenly goes Mission: Impossible.|
What's very surprising is that a lot of emotional weight is apparent in Furious 7's storyline. Even though the term "family" is quite a bit overused in the movie's dialogue, Furious 7 feels like progressive step forward for the protagonists, building on the foundation of what happened in the previous movies.
With that said, a big part of the movie are the relationships among the crew members: whereas Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) still have big problems to work out Letty's amnesia and getting her memories back (aftermath of FF4), Brian (Paul Walker) wants to quit criminal jobs once and for all since he now became a father. While not exploring devastatingly new themes and topics and partially even feeling a bit forced in, the emotional drama works quite well overall. It all surrounds the main topic of trying to live a normal life again but simply being not able to due to forces that are out of the characters' hands. Letty's struggle to be happily together with Dom is surprisingly well put with her amnesia having robbed her any presious memories she had with him including the affection and love for him that rose over time. In comparison, Brian's struggle to get away from the crime scene feels a bit been-there-done-that. It's definitely a topic that has already been discussed in previous FF-movies, but under the roof of Paul Walker's tragic death, his departure from the crew stands as a sad yet also beautifully executed metaphor in Furious 7.
|Well, i guess that must be love at second sight for Rodriguez.|
Given the fact that Furious 7's production had so many problems to deal with due to Paul Walker's tragic death, it really feels like a giant accomplishment alone that Furious 7 nevertheless turned out as such a solid movie. Additionally, director James Wan did a great job in making Furious 7 a not only a beautiful send-off for the character of Brian but also actor Paul Walker himself. As already said, the plot thread of Brian quitting his criminal life poses as a metaphor for Paul Walker's sad death as a whole. While this might come off as very functionary for some, it's especially the final scene with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (that I won't spoil here) that comes off as really fitting, moving and beautifully made. The thought that this final scene not only stands as a goodbye to Brian but Paul Walker in real life is what will undoubtedly make some viewers shed a tear or two in the theater.
Regarding the additional scenes with Paul Walker that were shot after his death, reportedly his two brothers along with some CGI-work are what made them possible. To be honest, the additional scenes shot with his brothers are implemented so seemlessly into the movie that it's really hard to actually spot them. Though it's somewhat obvious that the final send-off scene is built on top of CGI-magic, other than that, there are no weird distractions in the movie that take you out of the experience.
|Lay down. Try not to cry. Cry a lot.|
Actingwise, there is nothing to really noteworthy to write home about here. Considering the acting-standard throughout every Fast and Furious movie, Furious 7 doesn't break any new grounds there but just fits right in.
Dialogue in Furious 7 is a rather mixed bag. While some emotional moments and dramatic scenes are surprisingly well handeled (albeit often very cheesy), there is an equal amount of times where the screenwriting shows some shortcomings. Even though it's nothing too bad, especially one-liners in Furious 7 are mostly lame misfires that somehow don't even really make sense. Clearly the Fast & Furious franchise still needs to learn a lesson or two from Schwarzenegger and Stallone when it comes to that.
Regarding screentime of some characters, it turned out as a big disappointment that Dwayne The Rock Johnson's character Hobbs is shoved to the side for most of the movie from pretty early on. While this was somewhat expected seeing how he can be seen in a hospital in the trailers, it's still a bummer that the movie took such a cut making him only appear in the beginning and final showdown of the movie. Fortunately though, the action scenes involving Johnson are actually entertaining enough to smoothen his lack of screentime out a bit.
|His screentime is short, but when he's there, he leaves an impression.|
The Fast and Furious movies gradually got more and more over-the-top with their stunts. From slow beginnings in the first movie, we now reached a point in which we already saw cars pulling a giant bank safe across a highway, cars battling a tank, and even cars chasing a giant plane on an overly long airfield.
James Wan still somehow managed to top all that in Furious 7. Aside from the fight scenes and especially the chases being very well designed, the stunts now are so over-the-top that the movie simply doesn't seem to even care anymore whether they are reasonable or not. In the end, we are talking about Fast and Furious here. Therefore, don't be surprised when Furious 7 has you witness a car jumping from one skyscraper to another, take out helicopters through a car jump or even make an entire skyscraper crumble to the ground. Cars themselves are the weapons of Vin Diesel and his crew - and Furious 7 fully embraces this.
But the over-the-top nature of Furious 7 isn't only limited to cars: With for example Vin Diesel lifting the front of a sportscar up with his bare hands or Jason Statham even surviving a full-on uppercut from Dwayne Johnson, there are numerous rather unrealistic aspects here and there. Granted, Furious 7 (just like most of its predecessors) sure is to some extent very silly with its action but does the over-the-top moments somehow casually enough to avoid making them feel like they'd come off from a Charlie's Angels movie.
Furious 7 therefore boasts a nice balance between ridiculous (but awesome) and realistic stunts in its action.
|Directed by "Ho Li Shit"!|
All in all, if you didn't like first Fast & Furious movies or even the last two, Furious 7 isn't necessarily going to change your mind. Yet, if you happen to be among the many people who enjoy the franchise, Furious 7 is going to give you exactly what you want and expect.
Though it would've been welcome if Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson had been implemented a bit more efficiently into the overall storyline of Furious 7, this seventh entry still succesfully continues this long running franchise. With Statham as a great new villain, new creative over-the-top stunts and a surprising amount of emotional depth, Furious 7 is both a solid new entry into the franchise as well as a great send-off for Paul Walker.
Furious 7 is big and simple fun. It knows that it doesn't necessarily need to be overly realistic or gritty like Taken to be entertaining as an action blockbuster in its own right and fully embraces this fact. Through a nice mix of live action stunts and over-the-top CGI stunts, Furious 7 strikes a nice balance that avoids making the action overly silly.
Furious 7 is big, loud, simple and awesome. It's a satisfying new entry in this long running franchise.
Final Verdict: 7 out of 10