Benjamin has been reviewing films for sixteen years and has seen more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the Big Deal?
Fast and Furious 7 (also known as Furious 7) is an action thriller film released in 2015 and is the seventh instalment of the Fast And Furious series. Directed by series newcomer James Wan, the film follows career criminals Dominic Toretto and his crew return to the US as free citizens but are pursued by a rogue special forces agent who will stop at nothing for vengeance. The film stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham and Djimon Hounsou. The film would be the last in the series to feature Walker who died midway through the film's production, meaning that body doubles and CG composites were required to finish the film. The film was a massive hit with audiences, making it the first film in the franchise to earn more than $1.5 billion worldwide - the eighth highest earning movie in history at the time of writing. Critics also lauded the picture, citing the action sequences and the emotional tribute to Walker. Personally, I disagree - as well made as it is, the film is a long series of ridiculous stunts with no basis in reality whatsoever.
What's It About?
Finally securing amnesty for their past crimes after defeating Owen Shaw in London, Dominic "Dom" Toretto, Brian O'Conner and the rest of the crew return to the US and start settling down. While Brian attempts to be happy as a family man to partner Mia and their young son Jack, Dom is still trying to help his wife Letty Ortiz recover her memory so they can move on. Unfortunately, Owen's brother Deckard Shaw swears vengeance for the near-fatal attack on Owen and wastes no time in seeking it. Killing Han in Tokyo and bombing Dom's house in LA, Deckard contacts Dom and informs him that he is coming.
Seriously injuring Hobbs at the DSS while acquiring details on the rest of Dom's crew, Shaw begins his relentless pursuit at Han's funeral where Dom gives chase. As they are about to fight to the death, they are interrupted by a group of special ops agents led by the enigmatic Mr Nobody who offers Dom the chance to nail Deckard. An international terrorist called Mose Jakande is hunting a top secret computer program called God's Eye, the most powerful surveillance project ever created, along with the program's creator - a hacker known only as Ramsey. If they can rescue Ramsey and the God's Eye before Mose finds them, Nobody will allow Dom use of the God's Eye and all the military might at his disposal to take the fight to Deckard...
Dominic "Dom" Toretto
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
Release Date (UK)
3rd April, 2015
Action, Crime, Thriller
What's to Like?
Having sat through the six previous movies, I felt that the films' grip on reality and common sense was becoming increasingly strained but Fast and Furious 7 takes things to a whole new level of stupid. It reminded me of my youth - when I was about 6 or 7 - playing with my toy cars and the physics-shattering, explosive-laden stunts I would enact. This is the film that I saw in my mind, full of ultra-expensive vehicles getting shot to pieces or launched off the sides of mountains or jumping between skyscrapers. I'm not making any of this up - if you thought that Fast And Furious 6 took things too far then welcome to your own twisted purgatory.
On the bright side, the series has finally acknowledged the runt of the litter Tokyo Drift by tying up the story-lines into one almost coherent narrative. And we also welcome new stars to the mix - Emmanuel is yet another underwritten female character with an obligatory bikini scene but Statham delivers a meaty performance as the baddie, fighting and shooting things much better than previous bad guys have done. But as always, the cars are the real stars and petrol-heads will be in heaven with Bugatti Veyrons, Lykan HyperSports, Nissan GTRs, Plymouth Barracudas and other souped-up vehicles on show. The film lingers as much on the cars as it does on the butts of scantily-clad ladies, almost all of whom wear swim-wear and nothing else. For fans of the series, it won't get much better than this.
- Walker's death in a car accident in 2013 led to a prolonged delay in filming and discussions about whether the film should be finished. After the cast and crew agreed to finish the film in tribute to Walker, body doubles (including Walker's younger brothers Caleb and Cody) and CG were used to complete filming all of Walker's scenes. The script was also changed to give Walker's character a proper send-off.
- This film took more in its opening weekend ($397 million) than The Fast And The Furious did in its entire theatrical run ($207 million).
- This marks the first Hollywood appearance by Jaa, who made his name in martial-arts movie Ong-Bak in 2003. Rousey filmed her part back-to-back with her debut in The Expendables 3.
- This film marks only the second time that Johnson has used his wrestling finishing move "Rock Bottom" in a movie. The first time was in the film Welcome To The Jungle.
What's Not to Like?
One of the reasons I really hate CG sometimes is that it often appears to show something visually spectacular but ultimately meaningless. Such is the burden Fast and Furious 7 finds itself under with cars doing things that no vehicle could possibly do. No matter how well produced the film is (and it is well produced), everything on screen is weapons-grade tosh. From the scantily-clad women partying in Dubai to the meaningless destruction of some Chinese Terracotta Warriors, the film has no concept of reality, cohesion or common sense. I feared this would happen after the sixth film, which tried really hard to convince us that a high-speed car chase could happen in heavily-congested London. That seems like a pernickerty oversight compared to this film. After all, how else can you explain an ultra-rare hypercar filled with petrol but without working brakes stored at the top of a skyscraper that can apparently drive through windows and crash-land in another building (twice) and only really suffers some damage to its paint-job?
I could forgive it if it wasn't so meat-headed in its delivery. Most of the fight scenes between Statham, Diesel and Johnson can basically be boiled down to a willy-waving competition. Once again, the female characters are overlooked and underwritten with the exception of Rodriguez' Letty. Tragically, her amnesia subplot is resolved in the blink of an eye which means her character's only point of interest vanishes. What's really frustrating is that this is the first film in the series since Tokyo Drift that feels like a backward step. The movie offers fans nothing they haven't seen already besides increasingly dumb action sequences loosely strung together by a threadbare plot. There is only so much you can do with cars in a movie and I hope that after seven films, the penny has finally dropped for the producers. Of course, it didn't...
Should I Watch It?
It is not as bad as Tokyo Drift but this film isn't far off. Moronic, overly complicated and overshadowed by the unfortunate passing of its lead man, this entry in the franchise feels laboured and increasingly desperate to keep upping itself. Whether I'm getting tired of the series now or not, I can't say. Fans will lap this up, naturally, but personally I'm starting to get frustrated and fed up of this increasingly dumb, macho and noisy series.
Great For: fans of the series, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's career, Walker's legacy
Not So Great For: serious action fans, cynical critics, anyone in Dubai wondering where the bikinis are
What Else Should I Watch?
The next film was Fast & Furious 8 which, unsurprisingly, followed the exact same formula as the more recent films in the series which has left the street-racing and car customisations behind and focused on being more traditional action films, albeit with increasingly over-the-top stunts. Despite a more mixed reaction from critics, it still took over $1 billion and makes me wonder how a franchise mired in its own machismo has gone from strength to strength. If I'm being truly honest, I wouldn't recommend any of the previous films as they all suffer the same issues - too much CG, misogynist portrayal of women, over-the-top action and Diesel's unflinching, monotonous rumble. And I don't mean his V8.
Car movies have usually struggled to achieve critical success from the trippy excesses of Vanishing Point to the trucking celebration of Smokey And The Bandit. Other efforts you might want to switch your brain for include goofy comedy The Cannonball Run and the 2000 remake of Gone In Sixty Seconds, a stylish blend of Nicholas Cage, gorgeous cars and an under-rated soundtrack.
© 2019 Benjamin Cox