There’s a well-tested formula that seems to drive these Fast and the Furious movies: throw in way too many one-liners, have Vin Diesel drone his way through a bunch of lines about family, and be as ridiculously over-the-top as possible. It somehow works. Nevertheless, there are diminishing returns to be seen in the series now, and even though Furious 7 constantly attempts to one-up its predecessors–and has quite a bit of fun doing so–it never quite reaches the heights of Fast Five.
It’s certainly a visual spectacle, which is a given when you have cars crashing through skyscrapers and parachuting out of planes and exploding whenever they get the chance. There are some set-pieces that are very impressive to watch unfold, and new director James Wan adapts nicely to a bigger budget feature here. As has been the case with all of these movies, though, the creative team looks at its lousy script and says: “Well, let’s just not worry about that and do car crashes instead!” Sure, we don’t watch these movies for the script, but at some point, moving quickly from action sequence to action sequence is not going to keep me engaged.
The characters simply aren’t that fun or interesting to watch, unless we’re talking about The Rock. He delivers the over-the-top one-liners better than anyone else in the cast, and it’s disappointing to see that he’s sidelined for most of the movie. When he is on screen, though, he’s a goddamn delight, and aside from already filling the Vin Diesel quota and then some, he makes Diesel look even more so like a stoic eggshell with speech problems. In particular, The Rock’s role in the final battle sequence is hilariously awesome, and we’re left wondering where he was earlier.
Elsewhere, Kurt Russell is a nice addition to the cast as Mr. Nobody, and Jason Statham does a great job of being Mr. Bad Guy Who Shows Up Wherever It’s Convenient for the Narrative. They both do a fine job, but as I’ve said before, the movie’s strengths mainly lie in the action department (as expected). Any attempts to create an emotional through line with Dom and Lettie fall flat on their faces, and the movie doesn’t really succeed at connecting with its audience until the final few minutes. Those final few minutes are really beautifully handled, though, and it’s a wonderful tribute to Paul Walker that helps the movie end on a poignant note. After two hours of fistfights and gunfights and car chases, Furious 7 returns to its characters and to its actors, sending off one of its cast members into the sunlight. And it does it well.
–Furious 7: brought to you by Corona.
-Iggy Azalea shows up for a few seconds because she wants to add “shitty actor” to her resume. Oh wait, she’s already got that down by pretending to be a rapper.
-More bad acting: Ronda Rousey. Stick to the UFC, please.
-The two best fight scenes: Statham vs. The Rock, Tony Jaa vs. Paul Walker.
-Once again, one of the most diverse casts I’ve seen, and the franchise should be praised for that.
-Djimon Hounsou is disappointingly underused in this movie, especially in the last act.
-This movie thinks that Tyrese Gibson’s character is the funniest person in the universe. “Ha ha ha,” I say humorlessly as he interrupts the movie for what feels like the hundredth time.
-Okay, I’ll admit: I laughed at a few of his antics. It’s just that he’s essentially screaming out “Comic relief!” with every line, and it gets grating.
-It’s really impressive what the movie’s pulled off here with Paul Walker’s character. CGI these days.
-The song at the end is “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.
-Statham’s best scene? The opening at the hospital. That was legitimately entertaining to watch.
-Jordana Brewster had to film that phone conversation after Walker’s death. Damn.
-I thought Kurt Russell’s character was going to turn out to be a bad guy, but I was pleasantly surprised when that didn’t happen.
– “The street always wins.” Okay, that’s a fine one-liner. I actually thought Shaw died there, but I guess not. I wonder if they’ll bring Statham back at some point.
-The Brian minivan scene early on is pretty funny. Also, I must say, that teacher–played by Anna Colwell–is very attractive, and her character name for this movie is actually “Hot Teacher” (according to IMDB).
-I laughed at Lucas Black.
– “It’s time to unleash The Beast.” Ugh.
-In the hospital, The Rock is watching an old University of Miami football game, which means he’s watching himself.
-The final shot–Brian and Dom driving in different directions at the fork–is really gorgeous. Nicely done.
Photo credit: Furious 7, One Race Films/Relativity Media/Original Film/Media Rights Capital