Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson
Genre: Action/ nonsence
After the events in London, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) relentlessly attempts to hunt down Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his gang, seeking vengeance for what happened to his brother (Luke Evans), leaving the whole gang and agent Hobbs (Johnson) being forced to take one last ride if they are to survive. Oh, and there is also some plot involving a shady government agent (Kurt Russell), a mercenary-cyber-terrorist-type-person (Djimon Hounsou) and a digital program created by a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel).
So many franchises lose momentum and engine power as they go along, but for me the Fast & Furious franchise has defied the usual rule and only gained drive as it has gone up through the gears. The first films were quite serious and underwhelming in my view, and the franchise did look to be running on fumes by the time of Tokyo Drift, but bringing together the key components of the original film meant the franchise produced far bigger revs by number 4. For me the main turning point in the franchise was number 5 in which the introduction of Dawyne Johnson provided an almost complete remapping of the franchise’s engine; the films became pure escapism by being outrageously silly and entertaining in equal measure with each instalment getting an increased injection of quality and quantity.
One thing is for sure, with so many predecessors everyone should know what to expect by Fast & Furious 7 (it also arguably renders reviews as slightly obsolete and pointless); it is just as intentionally ridiculous and stupid as its predecessors, but even more outrageous in terms of set pieces and with a bigger than ever list of big name cast members thoroughly enjoying themselves. It most certainly delivers in action and thrills, and even though it feels a lot of the laughs are often at rather than with, it does feel that everyone involved is in on the joke. The cast and crew have a lot of fun, the audience has a lot of fun; surely that is the perfect cinema experience?
Well, box office performance suggest this will be the most successful of the franchise so far, and with that in mind I am sure the studio will not want to put the brakes on just yet. Fast & Furious 7 does deserve to be seen at the cinema as it certainly delivers on pure spectacle. After Justin Lin had directed films 3-6 with an obvious increase in flair and confidence (as well as rejection of reality), 7 has a new man in the driving seat; the one and only James Wan. The man who made the excellent Saw and has subsequently made turgid, cheap, tacky and cynical horror films has his first attempt at driving an action blockbuster. Well, his driving style at the helm of Fast & Furious 7 is cheap, tacky, gimmicky, leery and often hyperactive; basically it is perfectly suited to the franchise!
In terms of plot the film does threaten to overheat, but it is best not to think about these and enjoy the ride with the franchise’s most outrageous set pieces yet. Naturally there is very little consideration for the laws of reality, physics, gravity, logic, the human body’s tendency to bleed and also its durability, but that is part of the fun!
The new additions to the cast are also very much welcomed passengers; Jason Statham, relishing in a very rare antagonist role gives the franchise the bad guy it deserves and brings his usual dose of screen charisma. Kurt Russell too joins for the ride in one of the film’s more outrageous plot points, but too is great. Meanwhile the regular crew all have a good time, with poor Joanna Brewster getting very few scenes as usual and Dwayne Johnson and Tyrese Gibson as per usual being the stand-out and getting the best lines.
What is unique about Fast & Furious 7 is that this usually completely vacuous franchise actually has an air of genuine poignancy surrounding it after the tragic death of Paul Walker. It is a sad but undeniable fact that one of the very best ways to market anything in the entertainment industry and get maximum PR and exposure is for someone involved to die, and Walker’s untimely death is undoubtedly a reason for the film’s humongous box office return. Well, I will of course refrain from going into great details, but despite my dreaded fears, how this is handled is very well done and without doubt a fitting tribute to the late Paul Walker.
Criticising anything about Fast & Furious 7 may seem like driving down a cul-de-sac, but at 137 minutes it is at least 30 minutes too long and at times an effort to watch, James Wan’s leery and gimmicky shots get slightly annoying and repetitive, while Chris Morgan’s script contains constant cringe worthy lines. It is pure vacuous entertainment when at its thrilling best, and as I said before; everyone knows what to expect now, so is there even any point in reviewing it? The best thing to say is that Fast & Furious delivers everything that can be expected of it.
In a franchise that seems to constantly redefine words like ‘outrageous’ and ‘bonkers’, Fast & Furious 7 shows that the franchise is still very much a well-oiled machine that still has plenty of drive and delivers pure entertainment. It has an abundance of things wrong with it, but flaws, tacky dialogue and a complete disregard for logic and reality has never been so much fun!