I went to see Furious 7, the latest (last?) installment in the Fast and Furious franchise this week. In many ways it was exactly what you would expect: cars doing crazy stunts planned by crazy people and very thinly justified by a crazy plot. This is not a bad thing; I love my PG13 adventure flicks, but because this is the 7th film, each with increasingly higher stakes, they have to take it to the 7th level of awesome–(and now I have a title for this post.)
I’ll note in advance that this post will have somewhere between a few and a lot of spoilers, but I’ll try to put them after convenient pictures the the one at the top (of the original film) and the one just below of the very attractive and gracefully aging cast.
From left to right we have Dwayne (the artist formerly known as The Rock) Johnson as former villain Agent Hobbs, Michelle Rodriguez as the inconsistently amnesia’d Letty, Paul Walker as the longing-for-bullets Brian O’Conner, Vin Diesel as the ultimate badass racer Dominic Toretto, Tyrese Gibson as the “comedian” Roman, Cris “Ludacris” [I don’t know his last name] as the techy Tej, and finally Jordana (don’t call me Punky) Brewster as the worried wife Mia Toretto O’Conner.
How very Magnificent 7 of them!–which is like saying, “How very 7 Samurai of them!”–(which is also like saying A Bug’s Life, but there were 8 of them if you count Tuck and Roll as two separate entities.) But the plot is not actually very similar to any of those films, despite their having an iconic cast of 7 on their poster.
In fact, there are five (5) very important characters missing. One (1) of these is Jason Statham playing Deckard Shaw, an insane off-the-grid UK special forces type who is bent on identifying, hunting, and killing, every member of Hobbs’s (aka Toretto’s) group, who took out Owen Shaw in the previous movie. Wait, Shaw and Shaw? Coincidence? Definitely not: Dickhead Shaw is Owen’s big brother, and he is out for revenge, starting with (2) Han, who meets his end in Tokyo after he decided to play solo–groan over the pun. THIS IS NOT A SPOILER! It already happened in the third movie Tokyo Drift, which just happens to be out of chronological order, and the clip of his death was also shown in the end of the sixth movie as a cliffhanger epilogue thing.
Well, the gang decides to go after Shaw. In order to do so, they enlist the help of (or are recruited by) (3) Kurt Russel who plays [crap, what’s his name? I actually have to look this up…] Nobody. Yeah, I checked IMDB, and he is credited as playing someone named Mr. Nobody. He’s a government agent guy with cool sunglasses and a penchant for Belgian ale, and he’s got a quest for Toretto! So five of the fastest (Fast Five?) Dom, Brian, Tej, Roman, and a confused and emotional Letty are sent on a mission to retrieve a device for Nobody, which he will let them use to track down Shaw and get him before he gets them. This means that they go halfway around the world to find (4) a hacker named Ramsey played by (minor SPOILER) Nathalie Emmanuel, probably best known for her time on Game of Thrones who has been kidnapped by (5) the evil warlord Djimon (Digimon) Hounsou.
Alright, maybe they didn’t need to put all five of them on the poster, but they definitely should have added Ramsey, and possibly taken Mia off, because she does not go on any of the missions and is neither fast nor furious during the film. I still think Kurt Russel’s character is part of the core cast, but maybe they didn’t want to put Nobody on the banner; therefore Nobody was missing; Nobody poked out the cyclops’s eye! (Moving on.)
Realistically, the Furious Seven mostly consisted of this group of six, dressed and ready to ruin an Ocean’s 11 style scheme.
(Vin Diesel’s character says he feels awkward in the formal wear; it looks like the actor does too–but in a charming way.)
In terms of recommendations, I would, and I do, and I have. Furious 7 is awesome; it has all manner of fast cars, kickass fights, big explosions, and likable characters. No, it does not have a ton of depth, and the believability goes away from time to time, but I certainly recommend watching it, in theaters if possible. If you go see it, watch for the fight-scene follow cam–it is dynamic and fast-moving but not at all shaky, and it really focuses on the characters and their being in control of their movements.
In terms of drawbacks, there aren’t many that you wouldn’t expect. There’s a decent amount of “How would they pay for that?” and “How would they cover that up?” I really didn’t like that they had almost a dozen chances to just kill Shaw and hesitated, for reasons of extending the movie. I was also confused by the racer girls in this movie; they all had very small butts. My girlfriend and I actually commented on it after the movie and agreed that it really didn’t fit with the “racer” culture they had been portraying.
That being said, I give it a very solid 8 out of 10 Ms (if anyone’s counting) largely because it delivers exactly what it promises effectively and with beautiful camera work.
Keep scrolling for my 7 favorite awesome moments of Furious 7–(but be wary if you have not yet seen the movie)
~beyond here lie spoilers~
So I promised you seven levels of awesome, and here they are in ascending order:
1. Sawed-Off Shotgun
Near the end of the movie, Dom actually gears up and saws off the end of his shotgun. There’s something inherently badass (and furious) about that, and it’s even cooler when he brandishes it at Shaw and asks “Did you think this was gonna be a street fight?”
2. Impractical Parkour Guy
Tony Jaa I presume? Tony Jaa is furiously fast, regardless of his terrain. I didn’t know the actor or character’s name, but when I saw him running over, through, under, beside, and on all kinds of surfaces in attempt to kill Brian, I opted to call him Impractical Parkour Guy. They were going up (and riding down) the stairs of some kind of concrete industrial tower and sacrificing safety for speed everywhere. And once again the camera work was amazing.
3. “Daddy’s Gotta Go to Work”
Okay, I’m going to cheat on this one, because it’s a two-parter. And there are SPOILERS! Hobbs was put into the hospital early in the film, but when he sees on the news that a drone is flying around the city and shooting missiles at very fast cars, he gets furious, and breaks out of his cast. Yep, arm cast, broken bones, but giant flexing moment, and he is free to go. Naturally he tells his daughter “Daddy’s gotta go to work,” and then proceeds to steal commandeer an ambulance, which he drives off of an overpass and lands on the drone, killing it dead. He emerges from the wreckage holding a giant frickin machine gun. I am not making this up. Daddy went to work.
4. Passenger Exchange
There have been a lot of cool jump out of, off of, onto, and into cars in the Fast and Furious franchise. One of them near the climax of Furious 7 takes the cake. So the gang is driving all over LA, trying to elude the same predator drone that is tracking and firing missiles at Ramsey so that she doesn’t hack the bad guys’ system. To give the drone the slip, Brian’s car (carrying Ramsey) and Roman’s car pass by and drift around one another, lining up their windows so that Ramsey can jump out of Brian’s car and into Roman’s; and this happens in like a second, so they have to move fast. One of the characters remarks that they can’t believe that actually worked… I can’t either, but it was awesome.
5. Running Up the Falling Truck
Remember The Lost World? Like the Jurassic Park sequel with Jeff Goldblum, Vince Vaughn, and Julianne Moore–well, you remember the best scene, when the camper was hanging off the edge of the cliff and they were in it? Okay, so start there.
There’s a big truck (not camper), falling off a cliff, with Brian O’Conner inside–trapped inside by Impractical Parkour Guy, so the only exit is in the front. He has to climb out and then up the truck, and then run (fast) across it as it’s falling, and finally jump to the edge, which might not be close enough to reach… (I’ll use pictures.)
6. Not Two But Three Buildings
There’s this car, right? Some kind of super special, multi-million dollar, only seven in the world investment, and they drive it between two buildings. The situation was, they were in a very high building, they had to get out quickly, and they needed something in the car. There was no easy way to covertly get to the service elevate, but luckily, there was a big open window and a nearby building.
Unluckily, once they get there, they find that their brakes aren’t working. But wait! Someone had the foresight to install a third building. It is one of the most intense moments I have ever experienced watching a movie, because–along with the awesome–there is definite peril for the characters. And, yeah, they went really, really fast.
7. Paul Walker Montage (and the end of the movie)
This might seem like a cop-out seventh-level awesome, but I found the way they ended the film incredibly moving.
People who have any interest in F7 are probably also the kinds of people who know that Paul Walker passed away–no, that’s not a spoiler. Some of you, like me, probably thought that the announcement of his death was a hoax, because he was working on a movie about car explosions, and he died in a car accident–which really sucks. I don’t have a good way of expressing how much it sucks. Paul Walker was a great actor, and–from the little I know about his personal life–a great person in general. I felt that this film showed incredible support and love for him.
I was really relieved that Paul’s character, Brian, did not die in the movie. They finished the film with some CG and double work, but they kept Brian alive. And in the end, when they were wrapping up the movie, they showed a montage of Brian’s journey through the films, starting the the young, bright-eyed, fresh out of Pleasantville Paul Walker, smiling and meeting Vin Diesel on screen. Before breaking for credits, the film shows Brian and Dom separating at a fork in the road, and then flashes the words “For Paul.” Incredibly moving, and the seventh level of awesome for Furious 7.
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You might be wondering why I didn’t include the fight scenes with Jason Statham or the parachuting cars out of a plane. If you think they too are awesome, then you are right! The fact is that there are so many awesome moments in Furious 7, that I just didn’t have space for them. If you disagree with my list, say so! I enjoy feedback and commentary.