Starring: Vin Diesel (Guardians of the Galaxy), Paul Walker (She’s All That), Jason Statham (Crank), Dwayne Johnson (Hercules), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Tyrese Gibson (Transformers), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (Max Payne), Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), Djmoun Hounsou (Gladiator), Jordana Brewster (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), Kurt Russell (Escape from New York)
Director: James Wan (The Conjuring)
Writer: Chris Morgan (Wanted)
Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes
Release Date: 3 April (US, UK)
As ridiculous as it is that we now have seven films in the Fast & Furious franchise, you can’t fault them considering they’ve actually been getting better. What began as basically a rip-off of Point Break with cars has now gone full bananas and turned into essentially Mission: Impossible with cars. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the series, as I only got into them around the time Fast Five came out, but this recent re-invention of the concept is certainly convincing me to become one. Fast & Furious 7 has had a tough production owing to the tragic passing of star Paul Walker but, with some extra tinkering and a whole load of insurance money, the film has finally hit the streets and its engine is roaring loader than ever.
If you’re actually trying to analyse Furious 7’s plot, you’ve immediately missed the point. The story is a flimsy hodgepodge, full of plot holes, questionable logic and a complete disregard for the laws of physics, but the movie moves so fast that you’re not given enough time to care about such matters. Much like Mission: Impossible, the plot is an excuse to visit some exotic locales and smash cars into them, and Furious 7 does that job in exceptional form. The action set pieces are just beyond ridiculous, to the point where me describing them would sound like a six-year-old on a sugar rush, but even in their lunacy you can’t deny that they’re being creative. I’ll leave the jaw dropping moments for you to discover, but cars are crashed, punches are thrown, public property is destroyed, and most of it is followed by so-bad-it’s-good one-liners. The film runs for nearly two and half hours, but if you’re enjoying yourself as much as I was, you will not notice your watch over the massive grin plastered over your face. That is, until, the film’s final moments. I won’t say much more but, even if you’ve never seen a Fast & Furious movie, it’s hard not to feel emotional about how they pay tribute to Paul Walker. It’s not a flawless send-off, as that could have only been done if Walker was alive to film it, but the heart is in the right place and the filmmakers have done the best job they can to honour the man’s legacy.
The franchise has assembled an incredibly diverse cast over the years, and Furious 7 is no exception. Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and Walker’s Brian O’Connor haven’t changed much, but their chemistry remains strong and the franchise will certainly never be the same without Walker’s presence. Rodriguez, Ludacris and Tyrese aren’t much different either, but they fulfil their respective roles of the tough chick, the tech genius and the butt of all jokes as reliably as ever. Jordana Brewster and Dwayne Johnson are pushed to the sidelines for this outing, but in the latter’s brief screen time he leaves a hell of an impression; every moment Johnson has an opportunity to steal a scene, he will take it. Having Jason Statham as the new villain is about as awesome as you’d expect, kicking off the movie in the most nonchalantly badass way, but I wish he was in it more. He disappears for sizable stretches of the movie, before inevitably showing up out of nowhere in the middle of an action sequence like Nemesis from Resident Evil 3; he’s great when he’s around, but for the main bad guy he really should stick around more. In terms of other fresh blood, Nathalie Emmanuel adds some more diversity to the cast as hacker Ramsey, whilst the presence of Kurt Russell should certainly please fans of classic action flicks.
With Justin Lin’s departure from the series so he can go venture where no man has gone before, horror director James Wan takes the driver’s seat of the franchise and doesn’t miss a gearshift. For a director inexperienced with action movies, let alone one this massive, he’s acclimated to the genre tremendously. It never really feels like a James Wan film, but that would probably be inappropriate anyway. Fast & Furious has had a distinct flavour since its inception that simply grows rather than changes, and Furious 7 has all those same trappings. The name of the game here is bright colours, blisteringly fast editing, ear-piercing sound effects, a deluge of rap and electronica songs, and cinematography that will take any opportunity to show off the rims of an automobile or the posterior of a scantily clad woman. It’s not exactly refined or progressive, but it’s a style that works.
If judged with the mind of a serious person, Fast and Furious 7 is a shoddy, insane and downright idiotic film. But this film was not made for serious people. I know this is so often used as an excuse, but it is genuinely true here: if you go into this movie expecting it to be anything other than what it is, you’re the idiot. This is honestly the most fun I’ve had watching a movie so far this year (barring Kingsman, of course), and I say that with very little embarrassment. It’s an entertaining and carefree party of a movie from start to finish, screaming nonsense at the top of its voice and paying no attention to the obvious illogic in its thinking. If this is not your sort of movie, you probably already know that and should walk the other way. But if you’re in this movie for what it is, you are going to have so much fun.
FINAL VERDICT: 8/10