The Fast & Furious gang are back once again in this 7th (yes, 7th) outing which promises to be bigger and even more ridiculous than the one before.
You know, the one with the tank?
Well, taking a page out of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise, Furious 7 sees your tank and raises you parachuting cars. New villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Staham) prepares his revenge against Dom (Vin Diesel) and co while his brother rests in hospital after failing to bring down our heroes in the last movie. Although that's soon reduced to more of a subplot when Kurt Russell shows up to steer the film into a macguffin-filled direction as Dom and the rest are hired to find a kidnapped hacker, then a hard-to-reach sports car and finally a super-powerful computer chip with some clichéd face-recognition technology on it. It's the same old magic tech-heavy plot we've seen a million times and it is just as tedious as it sounds. Then again, it does lead us to some truly wonderfully absurd action sequences and dips the franchise's toe into sci-fi so I can't complain about that too much, even if it bulks up Furious 7's already titanic running time even more for no good reason.
The first half-hour of the film is dedicated predominantly to melodramatic conversations between the main characters for purely expositional purposes or in order to remind us what happened prior had we, god forbid, missed one key instalment of the franchise. The only useful things we do learn is that Dominic Toretto carries a big hammer around in his car and Dwayne Johnson sweats a lot. The Johnson vs Statham fight we finally get is the film's first great moment though the pace is once again slowed down by endless "now, it's personal" moments meant to remind us over and over that Vin Diesel is no Jason Statham fan. Following some stinker dialog and another attempt from Tyrese Gibson at humour, everyone is finally strapped into their cars at the back of a plane, ready to reverse back into the sky and we are delivered the preposterous spectacle we were waiting for. Luckily, this sequence doesn't disappoint and shows that director James Wan knows exactly how to switch to top gear without screwing it up.
It's a scene so baffling in terms of logic that even few James Bond films have managed to match it and yet it works completely. Driving a car off a cliff is seen as a good move in this movie, to give you an idea of the philosophy at work here. The gang travels to Dubai and suddenly Furious 7 becomes a heist movie where stealing a car located at the top of a really tall building is the focus. What follows is another big silly moment when Vin Diesel and Paul Walker decide to crash the car into not one but three buildings because, as we all know by this point, cars CAN fly. We also get to see Diesel lift a car with his bare hands, something I'm still applauding in my mind. And as if the film couldn't be any longer, it builds up to an Avengers-style third act which is basically one big action sequence complete with drones shooting down buildings, Dwayne Johnson pulverising bad guys with a gun bigger than one of his cast-breaking arms, Vin Diesel fighting Jason Statham using mechanic tools as swords... it's pretty amazing.
The film ends on an emotional note as Paul Walker's character is given a fitting send-off in a final scene which, in any other movie would have come off as cheesy, but here feels appropriately heartfelt. After all the poorly acted, badly written melodramatic moments this movie provides, who would have thought that they'd actually get one right? Walker's role in the film is bulked-up through CGI, his brothers stepping in as stand-ins and certain scenes being shot around him. This is a little awkward at times but the fact his character is given some really cool action moments, fighting with Tony Jaa, running on top of a bus that's falling off a cliff, crashing cars through buildings, makes it work nonetheless.
Furious 7 may not be as focused as Fast 5 or as straight-forward as Furious 6, it may be overlong, clumsy, messy, corny, needlessly convoluted and very, very dumb but whenever it's throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, it's tons of fun. A genuinely moving Paul Walker homage and some gloriously mindless action make this one worth it.
This time, it wasn't just about being fast.
It was also about parachutes.