Tremendous action scenes and a surprising amount of heart elevate this action dynamo
Upon the release of The Fast and the Furious way back in 2001, few would have predicted that the franchise would still be thriving almost 14 years later. In fact, to say that it is thriving would be an understatement – the latest film in the series, Furious 7, has already made almost $1.5 billion worldwide, placing it at number four on the all-time box office gross list. So how did they pull it off?
Furious 7 is a rousing action film that features a wide array of characters and ludicrous stunts, and ends with a touching tribute to franchise star Paul Walker, who tragically died in an off-set single-vehicle accident halfway through filming. I think it’s fair to say that the tribute to Walker certainly brought in a bit of an audience, but I think the larger draw was just that it’s a damn good movie with plenty of cross-demographic appeal.
The whole crew is back, including Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and they’re facing a threat the likes of which none of them have ever seen. After being granted amnesty by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) at the conclusion of the last film, the crew feels like their lives are going to be back to normal. Of course, if that were the case the seventh installment would not exist, so here we are. The brother of Owen Shaw, whom they vanquished in the last film, is a ruthless rogue Special Forces assassin named Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and he vows revenge for his comatose brother. Shaw sets out to pick off our heroes one by one, and starts with Han (Sung Kang). Toretto vows revenge and sets off to find Shaw.
At the same time, the leader of a covert ops team known as “Mr. Nobody” (Kurt Russell, a great addition to the cast) offers Dom the use of a computer program known as the God’s Eye, which can track anyone on the planet, as long as Dom can find it for him. That setup is more than enough to fuel a thrilling, action-packed 137 minute adrenaline rush that surpasses every other film in the series save for the franchise-revitalizing Fast Five.
Having Statham aboard as a villain is a huge boon to Furious 7, as it makes possible two “dream matches,” against Diesel and Johnson, and both skirmishes more than live up to the billing. Director James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) also stages a brutally awesome battle between Leticia “Letty” Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) and a security guard named Kara, played by UFC Champion Ronda Rousey.
Trailers for Furious 7 highlight the film’s action sequences, and those are certainly the selling point for the franchise as a whole. But what really elevates Furious 7 is that despite the inherent ridiculousness of the action going on around them, the characters manage to feel grounded. They make the audience care about what happens to them, because they care so much about what happens to each other.
I can’t wait for number eight.
Director: James Wan Writer(s): Chris Morgan, based on characters by Gary Scott Thompson Notable Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham