Fast & Furious 7 English Movie Review
With this week's Furious 7, the car-orgasms, muscular-body-spasms, half-naked-babes-with-exposed-chasms franchise returns in typically boisterous style. If ridiculousness was a form of art, Furious 7 gets it right down to the T. Plot and physics and any sense of sense are co-incidental, all that matters is family. And flying cars. Lots and lots of flying cars. And the worst part is, I mean none of those aforementioned things in the bad sense. I mean them in the good, the best sense.
For a film series that started off as an ode to highly expensive, highly expendable motor vehicles, the Fast and Furious franchise sure has come a long way since the first film came out in 2001. Now consisting of tons of drama, and a much broader base of action sequences that are choreographed with the typical glee of a 10-year old child, Furious 7 shows you how it used to be done, how it's being done and how it should be done.
Picking up a few days before the events of Tokyo Drift, which was the third installment, the film steps up its game by bringing in Jason Statham as a "British bad-ass" who's out for blood, with a dish of nicely-refrigerated revenge on the side, for the death of his brother at the hands of the crew. Also in the mix is Djimon Hounsou as a mobster on the hunt for God's Eye (a surveillance software, not the literal thing) and Nathalie Emmanuel as the newest, hottest, bikini-wearing eye candy on the scene.
The best thing about the whole franchise, even the largely terrible first 3 films, has always been that it has never taken itself too seriously. It has never proclaimed to being the most brain-stimulating set of action thrillers. It has always advertised itself as the holy-cow-how-is-this-happening action extravaganza where anything and everything goes. And everything does go, with the typical abandon that we would imagine, but also with an injection of tear-jerking theatrics.
Incoming director James Wan, taking over from 4 F&F films veteran Justin Lin, hits the ground running and makes the film his own. He brings his finely-honed dramatic-horror sensibilities to the film, with plenty of punctuation on the key moments of the film. He and writer Chris Morgan (who's been the solo writer on the last 5 films) pump up the level of drama over the already highly dramatic Fast & Furious 6, with lots of bonding and innumerable lectures on the importance of family over everything else. But they never go so far as to reach the point of sappy sentimentality and melodrama. Instead, Wan paces the film well by delivering a steady drizzle of well-timed humor and a cloudburst full of dizzying action.
The action itself is a thing of marvel, the kind that would've strained credulity and put you off had you been watching another film. But you wouldn't have it any other way with the latest film in a franchise that has time and again delivered physics-mocking, gravity-defying, outrageously over-the-top stunts with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Here, you get cars jumping off of planes, busses falling off of cliffs, cars jumping from the 50th storey of a building to the 40th storey of the next one, drones destroying half of the city and on and on. Also continuing the trend started by Fast 5, there's plenty of well-conceived hand-to-hand combat on display too.
What makes you suspend your disbelief is the fact that the makers don't really think that you'd believe any of it anyway, and neither do they want you to. Instead, they use their substantial budgets (a whopping $250 million for Furious 7) to give you as much of a bang for your buck as they can in the most visually stunning manner.
If there's a downside to the film, it's that it promises you the world with Statham's introduction, but his character Decker Shaw remains largely underutilized through the middle portions of the film, only to be put front and center once again during the film's climax. Also, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's character Dobbs is put out of commission and on bed rest early on in the film, taking him out of the equation completely. Finally, the painfully over-stretched subplot about Letty's lost memories come to a thankful but cringe-worthy end.
The cinematography by Stephen F. Windon (in his forth F&F film) and Marc Spicer is gorgeous. The stunts and action scenes are particularly well shot, and you can see James Wan's influence in the horror film-style intense close-ups to capture every look on the face of every character. Brian Tyler, in his 5th F&F outing, gives a musical score that's a cross between a Deadmau5 concert and a Metallica one. Editing by Christian Wagner, Leigh Folsim Boyd, Dylan Highsmith and Kirk M. Morri is a bit and miss but efficient, considering the task they had at hand.
My biggest fear before watching Furious 7 was that it might play out more like an in memoriam video of Paul Walker, considering his death came only halfway through the shoot of the film and the dynamic and flexible nature of filmmaking. Instead, Wan and his team keep themselves in check for most of the running length, choosing to pay their respects to the late actor in a lovely tribute and homage, one that is guaranteed to well you up even if you haven't seen a single one of his films other than the Fast and Furious franchise. Walker himself gives a very typically efficient performance in his last film, being probably the most emotive actor out of a cast of a franchise not really known for its acting.
After Paul Walker comes a consortium of 5 bald leading actors, probably some sort of record that nobody cares about. Vin Diesel gives a characteristically dramatic-deadpan performance, if there's such a thing as dramatic-deadpan. Statham adds one more franchise to his list of running film franchises, and even though he remains underutilized, he still manages to show off those action chops that make him such a sought-after action franchise actor.
Tyrese Gibson, in conjunction with Chris Bridges aka Ludacris (who is an almost-bald actor not part of the consortium), provides some genuinely funny comic relief. Djimon Hounsou, a perpetual villain, is suitably villainous. Dwayne Johnson hardly gets any screentime, but is charming as usual. Michelle Rodriguez gets to show off her athletic action skills too, but not much in terms of acting. Nathalie Emmanuel looks hot, which is what her contract stipulated her to do. Jordana Brewster doesn't get much scope or importance to give a noticeable performance. Tokyo Drift's Lucas Black puts on his best southern accent for a cameo appearance. No idea why Iggy Azalea is there in one scene for one dialogue.
Never liked physics? No matter. Furious 7 shows you how physics is just a myth and complete hogwash, and how going against its established rules can be so much fun and excitement, you could end up bursting your appendix. Love physics? Just get over it already and go watch Furious 7, an over-the-top action spectacle that is as outrageous as it is entertaining. And take your family along too, because as you're told multiple times, nothing is more important than family. Except flying cars.