Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham
UK Release Date: 3rd April 2015
Welcome back to the Fast & Furious universe – where all the women are supermodels, everybody speaks in one-liners, and super cars are as cheap and disposable as cigarette lighters from Poundland. With James Wan taking over from Justin Lin in the driver’s seat, the franchise that has been getting incrementally more crazy and has reached new heights of high-octane madness. If you’re looking for a deep cinematic experience then you’re in the wrong place, but anyone that loves a car chase and can ignore a plot hole or two is sure to enjoy the ride.
The film picks up exactly where Furious 6 left off: the street racing gang is being hunted by Deckard Shaw, the ex-Special Forces brother of their previous adversary. With the aid of a shadowy government organisation and the world’s most unrealistically attractive hacker, Toretto and co. search the globe for surveillance software in order to find Shaw and avenge their fallen comrade, while continuing to showcase their immortal indestructibility as they throw hotrods off mountains and jump from 6 storey buildings without a care in the world.
James Wan’s influence in the director’s chair is certainly a welcome change; full throttle pursuits and high speed collisions, the franchise’s bread and butter, are executed with an excited precision. Unfortunately combative scenes are less impressive, suffering from the frantic editing that has become all to common in modern action features. However the main set-pieces of Furious 7 are spectacularly entertaining and relentlessly ridiculous, unsurprising for a film that destroyed two hundred and thirty vehicles during production (although some less than subtle product placement for Corona will definitely have paid for at least a couple of wrecked cop cars).
Thankfully there’s enough adrenaline-fuelled Furious-ness to overshadow the movie’s issues. While nobody expects a dialogue masterclass from a film that prides itself on dropping cars from a cargo plane, over 2 hours of cookie-cutter one-liners from the “Little Book of Hollywood Quips” gets somewhat grating after about 45 minutes. Roman and Tej provide reliably entertaining banter but not enough to excuse wince-inducing lines like “there’s a billion things wrong, but not in this moment” or “I have to find myself . . . for me”. Due to the rewriting that was necessary after the death of Paul Walker in 2013, it feels harsh to overly critique the narrative issues of Furious 7. While the plot and pacing have been thrown a little out of step, the tragic loss appears to have been well-handled by the crew – only keen-eyed fans are likely to spot the CGI and body doubles used to complete Paul’s unfinished scenes.
In a mixed bag of performances, Jason Statham brings his usual air of genuine toughness as Deckard Shaw (staying true to his roots, appearing in a gorgeous Aston Martin that’ll have UK petrol heads squealing in delight). Unfortunately his villain role is criminally under-utilised in the actual plot, as is Dwayne Johnson who’s mountainous frame is largely absent for the bulk of the film. Tyrese Gibson remains consistent as Roman, the joker of the pack that brings 90% of the laughs, playing nicely off of Ludacris, the crew’s mechanic and tech-guy who seems to have evolved into a full-blown hacker in recent years (seriously, it’s like Swordfish in some scenes). Vin Diesel stays true to his “Hardman Mr Potato Head” persona, mumbling his way through proceedings with a wardrobe that consists of either vests or tightly ribbed, long sleeved tees.
Closing with an emotional tribute to the late Paul Walker that will touch even the stoniest of hearts, Fast & Furious 7 is a fitting send-off for the franchise’s leading man. Dropping the clutch and firing on all cylinders, fans will love this latest instalment in spite of its considerable issues as it reaches raucous new heights of complete outrageousness. When all you want is to do is strap in and turn the key for rubber burning fun, look no further than Fast & Furious.
Written by James Excell