In the latest installment of “The Fast and the Furious” movie series, this one simply titled ‘Furious 7’, you will suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride – that is if you can just shut off your logical mind, you will believe that cars can fly . . . and punch through walls, drive into each other head-on without killing the drivers . . . really anything that these bat-s#!t crazy filmmakers and stunt coordinators can think of . . .
It’s truly astounding to realize that a franchise that started as a ‘Point Break’ rip-off (albeit an engaging one oozing with early ’00s cool) with street-racers instead of surfers, has morphed into the action behemoth of the last three movies, throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the story, the action, and the cast (warm welcome to The Rock in #5, and please stick around). This movie is no exception, upping the stakes (the team is being hunted and picked off by Jason Statham, the mercenary brother of the sixth movie’s baddie out for revenge), setting up extended scenes of chases, heists, and knock-down, drag out fist fights between multiple different characters.
These films are not well-regarded for their scripts, acting, and plot-lines, of which “7” suffers a bit more than the last two, but the action scenes in this are top-notch, and director James Wan (taking over from series regular Justin Lin) actually brings a bit more artistry and cohesion to these spectacles this time around. The elements that fans love are ratcheted up in spades – the music is better, the cars and women are hotter and more plentiful, the cameos are larger (Kurt Russell in particular seems to be having a great time as Belgian Ale-loving government spook, Mr. Nobody), and the locales more varied (moving from LA to Tokyo to Afghanistan to Abu Dhabi and back to LA) .
Looming over the proceedings is the tragedy of the untimely death of costar Paul Walker, but make no mistake, he has a major role and his send-off is handled with grace and dignity in a surprisingly touching and logical extended denouement. Seven movies in, through the chemistry displayed on screen and despite, or maybe because of, the ridiculous scenarios they find themselves in, there is no doubt that this cast really is what ringleader Dom repeats as his mantra, a family . . .
Directed By: James Wan
Written By: Chris Morgan
Running Time: 137 min.
* * * (out of 4 stars)