In the long and winding road of Fast and Furious movies, the latest entry ranks as one of the most entertaining—and outlandish. I found the last film preposterous, but this one sets its larger-than-life tone early on and never veers from it. (Cars parachuting onto a treacherous mountain road? You bet!) Furious 7 is like all 12 chapters of an old Saturday matinee serial mashed-up together with dashing heroes and heroines, a seemingly indestructible villain, and a series of challenges that inspire one enormous action sequence after another. This is no longer about rubber hitting the road: it’s about using cars as props in a series of highly imaginative (read: impossible) stunts that pump your adrenaline and make for high-flying escapist fun.
At the core of all this is the bond of friendship and loyalty that has developed among the principal characters, with Vin Diesel as the father figure who periodically utters maxims about the importance of family. Much of the dialogue is written (by Chris Morgan) to be delivered as punchlines, in the Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back” mode, with appropriate pauses for effect and music cues on the soundtrack. Oddly, these cliché-driven moments actually work in context, almost encouraging the audience to laugh with the movie as it gives its fans exactly what they came for.
The presence of a lethal loose-cannon bad guy played by Jason Statham has former adversary Dwayne Johnson (who’s temporarily laid up in the hospital) and government agency bigwig Kurt Russell encouraging the Furious gang to do what they have to do to bring down this deadly foe. That’s all it takes for our team of good guys to spring into action, in a series of exotic locations around the globe before winding up in their hometown of Los Angeles.
Every member of the team gets his or her moment in the limelight, and as the story wraps up, the movie offers a graceful goodbye to the late Paul Walker. Fans couldn’t ask for a better tribute.
For his series debut, Maylaysian-born horror film director James Wan keeps a steady hand on the storyline and the action in this slick and impressive piece of entertainment. Surrounded by series veterans, aided and abetted by enormous visual-effects and stunt teams, he has delivered the goods. I don’t think any Fast and Furious enthusiast will feel let down—unless he or she misses the kinder, gentler days when the movies were actually about road racing.
Incidentally, despite all advertising to the contrary, the title of the film as seen onscreen is Furious 7. I can’t explain or defend this decision, I only report it for fellow obsessives out there.