Everybody ready to board the feels train? Good. We're going to be here a while. Furious 7 is the SEVENTH installment in the seemingly never ending Fast & Furious franchise; a series of fast cars, foreign locations and women in skimpy outfits. It continues the story of Dom (Vin "We Are Groot" Diesel), Brian (the late Paul Walker) and their crew of drivers. After taking down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, who makes a brief appearance in the opening shot) in the previous movie, his brother, Deckard (Jason Statham) comes after the crew, wanting vengeance for what they did to his brother.
I am not a big fan of this franchise. I think the first film is watchable, but nothing special, and I hate films two through four. Those 3 were unbearably painful to sit through. Then, all of a sudden, Fast Five gets released, The Rock is cast and the series took an unexpected turn into awesome-ville. It was an insanely awesome film that didn't take itself too seriously. Then Fast & Furious 6 came along and it was a film that required no thinking whatsoever, although I must admit that it's a rather entertaining, if not lengthy, time. Now we have Furious 7, and it's most certainly the best Fast & Furious movie to date, as well as the perfect send off for Paul Walker.
There were two things that I was worried about going into this movie. The first was its connections to Tokyo Drift, which I heard were pretty significant. Tokyo Drift is the third film in the franchise and its most certainly the franchise's low point. Thankfully, we can all rest easy, for there are just two scenes that connect this to that. We may have to put up with Lucas Black's lack of acting skills for a solid thirty seconds, but hey, it's better than 30 minutes, or worse yet, the entire movie.
Then my other concern was how they would approach Paul Walker's saddening and unexpected passing, which occurred less than halfway through production. It was announced that his brothers would come in to fill the role, and that CGI would be applied so it looks convincing, but I remained skeptical. I'm pleased to announce that you can hardly tell which scenes were filmed when. With the exception of the ending, which I will get into soon, and a fight scene in which you can't see Paul Walker's face for the entire fight, it's nearly impossible to notice which scenes were him and which were his brothers. It's convincing, it flows well and it just works. So kudos to James Wan and the entire cast and crew for actually getting this movie to happen, and making it awesome too.
It's arguably the most insane Fast & Furious movie yet, pulling off stuns you won't believe you're seeing. It takes the title 'Furious 7' and dials it up to 'Furious 11,' for the action, when on screen, is utterly and completely amazing, even if shortened down versions of the two best scenes were shown in the trailer. It's ridiculous and slightly over the top, but at least it's somewhat logical, unlike the conclusion to Fast & Furious 6, which had a runway that's physically impossible to make, and that wasn't even the most illogical scene from that movie.
This film seriously has everything. It goes from cars jumping out of planes to cars flying between skyscrapers. It's a jaw dropping, blood pumping good time that you can never believe if really happening, but you can't help but scream "HELL YEAH," which, as a matter of fact, one guy did twice during my screening of this film. Normally I'm against people yelling in movies, but come on. We were all thinking it.
While the film is technically action heavy, it's not action focused. Its main priority is treating these characters with respect and giving them the send off they deserve, if it even is a send off for most of them. There's a solid family element to the film, taking a more dominant role than it does in the previous films. Even The Rock gets a chance to show off some love as we're introduced to his open-mouthed daughter. But this film's main concern is giving Paul Walker the best send off he can get, and Furious 7 is a film that would make him proud.
I don't wish to delve into spoiler territory, but I must discuss the ending quite briefly. Sure, you can tell it was filmed after the death of Paul Walker, but other than that, dare I say that it's a perfect ending? It's sincere, heartfelt and endearing, and at one point it nearly brought a tear to my eye. They couldn't have given Walker a better send off, finishing on an ariel shot that's all sorts of brilliant. This film isn't perfect, I know that. It's got the odd cheesy line here and there, The Rock is very underused and it occasionally feels like its in a rush to get to as many locations as it can, but for what it is and what happened during production, it's the best film they could've made.
To sum up, Furious 7 is far from perfect, especially because of the unfortunate death of Paul Walker less than halfway through production, yet somehow, they still manage to craft the craziest, most endearing and entertaining Fast & Furious movie yet.
3 1/2 Stars