Furious 7 picks up where Fast & Furious 6 left off. Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner and crew are now happily ordinary. Happiness is a relative term.
Toretto is trying to reconnect with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and that’s not working that well. Walker — who is now on day care duty — is missing bullets.
Ordinary doesn’t last long.
Jason Statham is cast as Deckard Shaw. He’s the brother of the terrorist taken down in the last movie, and he wants revenge. That starts with the attack and hospitalizization of FBI agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), and ends with the death of one in the group and the bombing of Toretto’s house while his sister Mia, her husband O’Conner and their young son are in the driveway.
To defeat Shaw, Hobbs connects them with Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody, who knows of a super spy device that can instantly find anybody in the world at anytime. He wants it and offers it to them to find Shaw. But to get it, the group has to save the inventor. And she’s been kidnapped and is on her way to an impenetrable fortress in the mountains.
No problem. With Mr. Nobody’s help Toretto, Walker and crew drop hot cars and SUVs into the area out of a plane. That battle leads to even more entertaining yet unbelievable sequences as the guys and Letty globe-hop to secure the device.
Shaw is never far behind.
Furious 7 is hard to watch for two reasons. First, it’s painful to be reminded in scene after scene of the loss of the charismatic and quite talented Paul Walker. The filming was half done when Walker died, so many of his scenes were completed by his brothers Caleb and Cody and via the use of CGI.
So he’s not missed in that sense, and the plot has continuity.
The second reason is series writer Chris Morgan — who has now penned five of the seven — throws just about every contrived action sequence possible at the screen, hoping something will stick.
Very little does.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad movie. This is Fast & Furious, and things don’t need to stick. In parts, Furious 7 is quite entertaining. This is where new director James Wan ( Saw) comes into play. He plows through Morgan’s material using a ton of CGI and super-fast edits to punctuate the action sequences. And when Furious 7 is in action mode, it’s predictable guilty pleasure.
The stunts are terrific, and the movie is a blast.
When it slows down, it’s really slow and boring. Part of that is because of Morgan’s dialogue. It’s terrible at best, and in some parts, it is downright laughable. Only actors as wooden as Diesel, Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Statham and sometimes Walker can do dialogue this bad and make it work.
But work it does, and the actors — especially Russell, who has a blast with this part — pull it off.
The climax is where it gets tough. It’s the tearful goodbye to Walker. As he plays with his on-screen wife and child, Wan, Morgan and the producers show clips of Walker’s work in all of the films. It’s hard to watch. Part of the difficulty is where the loss of such a talented and likable actor hits home.
Losing a human being who is that three dimensional is always tragic, and Morgan, Wan and cast leave you with the empty, unfinished feeling of an unfinished life.
But the goodbye is really more for those grieving for Walker — his fellow actors and friends — than us. All through the last few minutes of Furious 7, you feel you’re eavesdropping on something intensely private and personal, and it’s uncomfortable.
Even though Walker is gone, there will likely be a Fast & Furious 8. The open-ended finish gives the feeling that the series will continue. When something earns that much money and is that successful, it’s hard to say no.
Furious 7 is fast and furious in spots, but like the other six, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.