Warning: This review may contain spoilers.
Since the wildly entertaining Fast 5, expectations (and budgets) have grown with each new installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. The cars are faster, the stunts are crazier, and the overall fun-factor is higher. How then, does one present an adrenaline-filled, over-the-top movie while simultaneously reconciling the death of one of its main characters? Respectfully, emotionally and unexpectedly.
All the fan-favorites are back in Furious 7, minus Sung Kang’s Han who gave his life while introducing us to our new villain, Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham. Shaw 2.0 is out for blood as he seeks vengence on Dominic Turetto and his crew for what they did to his little brother, Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw, back in Fast and Furious 6. Running parralel to Shaw’s hunt is a more techy storyline; One that finds the fast and furious gang trying to track down a kidnapped hacker named Ramsey, played by Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel. Ramsey is the inventor of new tech. called the God’s Eye, which can locate anyone, anywhere, by utilizing the audio or video capabilities of every device in the world, simultaneously. The bad guys want it and the good guys (led by Kurt Russell’s “Mr. Nobody”) don’t want them to get it. Who you gonna call? Vin Diesel!
If the plot sounds a bit far-fetched, its because it is. But who cares? One of the main points of enjoyment in the later installments of the franchise is the fact that they continue to push the envelope. When the sky-diving car scene was pre-released in February it served as a draw, setting the tone for things to come. Plot is secondary while comedy, action and the increasingly appealing cast are pushed to centre stage. The characters have even fallen into the stereotypical roles of a Mission Impossible movie. Somehow we buy that Ludacris’ Tej, for instance, has transitioned from a street race organizer (2 Fast 2 Furious) to hacker-extraordinaire in the blink of an eye. How many years are supposed to have passed between the two films? Very impressive Tej – that’s a lot of night school. LUDA!
The action scenes are top-notch. Watching Jason Statham and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson duke it out to start the film was a treat. The scene is choreographed nicely and the two heavy-weights excel at what they do. Johnson has injected his WWE mic skills into Special Agent Luke Hobbs, delivering awesome lines that would be groan-worthy from anyone else and Statham’s dry, almost uninterested demeanor is a great antithesis. When a character flexes an arm cast off and the crowd laughs in a positive way, you know that expectations have been effectively managed.
Even though the action is fun and the comedy is on-point, there are times that Paul Walker’s death hits like a ton of bricks. A scene where Walker’s Brian O’Connor calls wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) to say goodbye is particularly sobering. The scene was shot by Brewster after Walker had died from a car crash on November 30, 2013 and is filled with genuine emotion. After Walker’s death, the cast and crew took a break to grieve the death of their friend of 15 years. When the team finally reconveined, it was decided that they would complete the film using a combination of body doubles (Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody as well as actor John Brotherton), footage from previous films and CGI. Screenwriter Chris Morgan then had to revisit his script and weave in a story based on a familiar theme: Family.
It is clear that time, effort and love were put in to the reimagining of the film and Walker’s goodbye and the final ten minutes of the film are extremely solemn. Brian and Mia play with their son on the beach while the rest of the crew look on. As Dom leaves he refuses to say goodbye, only to be tracked down by Walker on the road. Walker’s mischievous boyish smile is gut-wrenching as the two
friends brothers drive off, side by side.
It seemed like an almost impossible task – to deliver a fun, funny and entertaining film while paying homage to the man who always seemed to be having the time of his life on-screen. Not only does Furious 7 tick every box on an action-movie junkie’s list, but it pays tribute to Walker in an extremely respectful and impactful way.
Fast and Furious fan or not, you’re in for an emotional ride.