A British black ops badass, is taking out Dominic Toretto’s crew one at a time, revenge style, and just when things seem hopeless an American Spook makes Dom an offer; access to a system that can track anyone on the planet so he can head his aggressor off at the pass, all Dom needs to do is rescue a legendary hacker from across international lines and the clutches of an unscrupulous government, to get the system up and running and in the possession of good old Uncle Sam… Predictably all hell breaks loose.
Director, Justin Lin, did a remarkable thing for the Fast and Furious franchise, he took it from the death rattle that was Tokyo Drift, re-introduced it’s core cast in Fast and Furious then totally changed the playing field with Fast 5, pulling the whole franchise team together, introducing further characters of greater star power, upping the machismo, creating new physical laws and separating the franchise from the pack.
The ante was upped further with Fast and Furious 6, but alas there he exited the franchise. It’s no small thing to reignite a franchise like that, in fact I’m hard pressed to think if it’s ever happened in such a way in the history of film, when discounting reboots and recasts, and so some pretty big shoes where left to fill for the seventh instalment of the franchise, but filled they have been with the very capable feet of James Wan, creator of no less than three successful franchises, Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring…
And you know what? He hasn’t dropped the ball; which is even more remarkable when you consider the built-in sadness that comes with the knowledge of franchise mainstay, Paul Walker’s, very unfortunate and somewhat ironical death.
There is a tendency for some cinephiles to be rather snobbish about the f&f franchise, and like those people I too was cynical right up until I was shut up by Fast 5; I won’t go on a massive tirade defending it here as I’ve done so in a previous essay article (read here), but suffice to say I am now an avid fan as it encapsulates all that I love about over-the-top action and executes it with slickness and flare.
If anything 7 is more ridiculous than 5 and 6, inventing endlessly overwrought scenarios to introduce mind-bending car and fight based action sequences at a frequency that surpasses the previous two instalments; the rub? The plot has lost the relatively streamline nature of those two films and took a turn for overly-complex-for-its-own-sake, like a Damon Lindelof script, only with the pretensions of smarts replaced with car chases, to the point where you give up on the story about half an hour in. Shame really, those simple plots where a charming part of the series, and this beside, it means that most of the newly introduced characters are overlooked for sections of the film, reducing their impact significantly.
The increase of action is to be expected when you add Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey to the already pumped up Furious family, though it has to be said that some of the action isn’t necessarily an improvement.
Wan has taken a more frenetic approach to the fight sequences insofar as camera movement goes, where Lin used to film them fairly cleanly, letting the choreography be the spectacle. In some cases this energetic camera movement adds further impact, but the rest of the time it makes the fights a little harder to follow than is required, and are never better than the crushing Statham Vs The Rock fight that the film opens with (it IS a hell of a fight though).
The driving action sequences kick ten types of arse, seamless and rapid as always but this time introducing vertigo inducing elements of height wherever they can fit them and destroying more cars than ever before. Highlights include skydiving cars, skyscraper hopping cars and ambulances taking out military drones… from above. These are worth the price of entry alone.
A tradition of leading into the next film via a Marvel-style, credit based, scene addition has been supplanted this time around with an obviously shoe-horned but still very touching ode to Paul Walker, tying his real life demise with his onscreen character’s heart-warming exit from the franchise in a somewhat poignant way, so there’s no need to hang around when the credits start rolling.
The further tradition of including as many shots of pert, women-bottoms as humanly possible has also been adhered to, with gusto, so don’t go fretting about that.
If you don’t already like the franchise, Furious 7 certainly isn’t going to be changing your mind, but if you are a fan, it doesn’t disappoint. You might not find it to be your favourite of the series but it has everything you crave, and in spades.