FURIOUS 7 Is Michael Bay On Steroids! (Movie Review)

Furious 7Furious 7 is the little engine that could in my opinion.  Not even the untimely and tragic death of one of the franchise’s main stars, Paul Walker, was able to completely derail this speeding train from moving forward.  Make no doubt about it.  The Fast and the Furious franchise has been quite the global exploit in the past two entries, but the nagging question still remained for me going into this press screening Tuesday night.  Does the unstoppable train ride lose any speed or momentum with James Wan helming the project and from the loss of Walker, or does it continue on in the quick speedy fashion we’re all accustomed to?  These questions and many more were what I hoped to answer this past Tuesday night.  So if you don’t mind, I tend to always practice safety first.  Therefore, I need to ask you to buckle your seat belts please, put all your appendages inside the car and enjoy the ride as it’s about to get very fast and furious around here.  Vroom!

So we may be a year delayed here, give or take, but hallelujah doesn’t it feel good to be back with the old gang again?  Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7, written by Chris Morgan, with horror sensation James Wan sitting in the director’s chair, although I hardly doubt he was sitting a lot.  This highly successful, globe trotting series  welcomes back fan favorites such as Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black.  This time they are joined by international action stars new to the franchise, which include the likes of  Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Ronda Rousey, Tony Jaa, Nathalie Emmanuel and Kurt Russell.

Before we go on here, there’s something y’all need to know just in case it wasn’t clear at the conclusion of the sixth film in 2013.  The previous three installments were set between 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006).  Yep.  That’s right.  The timeline goes like this: 1-2-4-5-6-3-7.  So just make sure you are cool with this knowledge I have either reminded you of or enlightened you with.  Furious 7 is the first film in the series to take place after Tokyo Drift.  As I mentioned up above, and it should come as no surprise (no spoilers here), Furious 7 also marks the final appearance of Paul Walker (as we know of at least).  He died in a freak, but tragic car accident on November 30, 2013 with filming only half-completed.  Immediately following the news of Walker’s death, filming was delayed for script re-writes, and his brothers Caleb and Cody Walker were called up as stand-ins to complete his remaining scenes.  This is what intrigued me most about going into Furious 7 for the first time, not if the movie would be any good, but how they would handle his character’s departure from the series as well as how the stand-in moments would look.

So before we talk about what works and what doesn’t here, let’s talk about the story first.  Don’t hold it against me, but I don’t know what was changed or not in the story due to Paul Walker’s tragic accident.  All I can report on is the facts as to what I saw go down on the big screen Tuesday night.  In the previous adventure, after defeating Owen Shaw and his crew, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Walker) and the rest of the crew were allowed to return to the United States and live normal lives again as they had all wanted in exchange for their cooperation.  After the credits in that movie we also catch up with the events in the third film in the series, Tokyo Drift, and we see Deckard Shaw (Statham), Owen’s older brother, taking out Han in Tokyo.  That’s right folks.  Deckard Shaw is after Dom and his family, seeking bloody revenge for his brother’s death.  Don’t worry if you don’t remember that because these events and more are replayed and creatively interwoven (it was awkward but really cool at the same time too) into the beginning of Furious 7.  In the movie we’re here to discuss today, these events ultimately puts Dom and the entire crew in “fiery” danger.  The newly domesticated Brian places his wife and kid into hiding as the rest of the bunch come up with a plan to find Deckard before he takes them out.  This is where things get a little messy for me.  Let’s hit the return key, insert a cool looking production still, start a new paragraph and I’ll tell you why.

Furious 7 - Cast

Jason Statham’s character here is like a combination of Michael Myers and Steven Seagal in just about any of his movies before he became fat.  LOL.  You can’t touch the guy and interestingly enough, he’s seemingly able to be everywhere no matter where on the globe your physically at, however, although he has no problems clearing out armies, he does have quite the hard time with Dom and gang.  We can chalk that up to good ole movie magic and move on, but therein lies the problem.  If Deckard is everywhere Dom and gang are, then why the hell do they need to devise a way to “find” him?  All they have to do is look around.  LOL.  I’m serious!  So here enters Kurt Russell’s character.  He’s the reason why to my question 5 sentences prior.

If they were setting up Kurt Russell’s character for future films, I’d be more forgiving, but since I don’t have any proof of that in the pudding I’m not going to be 100% tolerant of it.  I liked Russell’s character here, but so help me God, this whole subplot and adventure his character puts our gang in is nothing more in my opinion than a way to introduce the character of a computer hacker named Ramsey (I am withholding Ramsey’s real name as to not spoil anything for you).  I don’t know if it was the result of Paul Walker’s unexpected death or what, but the various subplots our main cast have to endure and traverse through are asinine, inconsequential (I’ll get to this point in a moment) and serve no greater purpose than just to shoehorn in action sequences into the story.  However, that’s not to say these said action sequences aren’t a hella fun, because they are!  That’s the thing with this franchise.  You have to just throw everything you know about physics and logic out the window to enjoy this.  If you cannot, then you’ll be in utter misery throughout this one as it seems to have topped all the previous entries in ridiculousness and over-the-top, unbelievable scenes.

So let’s talk about that “inconsequential” term I threw around in the paragraph before for a few moments.  I deem the Russell subplots as inconsequential for this very reason.  If Statham’s character shows up out of nowhere everywhere our heroes go, then why on Earth do we need to spend the next hour trying to find a way to find him?  Duh!  He’s already there!  Look around! Now like I said up above and I’ll say it again.  These subplots did introduce us to a new character as well as provide some insane stunt sequences that we’ll all be talking for weeks.  However, after the great writing of the last two entries, I expected more.  That’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Let’s chat about our gang next.  Darn did the group ever feel small and tired this time around.  My thought is that the writers are growing exhausted trying to figure out ways on how to top the craziness of the last entry as the Third Act of this feature is proof of that alone, but I’ll digress for the moment.  The gang feels small because this time out of the gate MIA are Hans, Gisele (Gal Gadot’s character who met her demise in the last film) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) because she’s mostly hiding out in this one.  The Rock’s character isn’t even a major player in this one so we’re only left with Vin, Paul, Ludacris, Michelle and Tyrese.  Thankfully the action is dialed up for this one to 11 so we have little time to breathe and fixate on the mundane here.  So if you don’t mind, I want to talk about the action next.  Of course you don’t.  It’s my review after all.

The Michael Bay style action is where it’s really at here.  If you can forgive  the problems with the story, things are really glossy and good looking as ever in the Fast and Furious universe.  Make no doubt about it, the action scenes while wild and plain  crazy play out “fast and furious” and I love them so for it.  I honestly underutilize the word crazy when I describe the action sequences, but make no doubt about it, you’ll see why I say what I do in the sequences filmed in the towering city of Abu Dhabi.  What goes down in there is just plain insane.  I also want to pay complements to the choreography of the heavy hitting hand-to-hand combat scenes.  They are near perfect here.  It was helpful too that the guy sitting next to me in the press screening reacted and jerked in his chair to every single blow.  It just gave it that realistic touch for me.  It’s all about the environment folks.  Watching this on a tiny TV screen wouldn’t have the same effect without the thunderous blows sounding through and effective LFE source or in my case, a scared patron in the adjacent seat squirming at the sight of each blow.  Most memorable for me was the fight scene between Rodriguez and Rousey.  Things really go down there!  The scenes shared between where Walker and Tony Jaa were pitted against each weren’t shabby either.

Now I made reference to Michael Bay here and I want to explain why.  Yes, the action here was complete lunacy like just about everything he did in the Transformers series thus far, but more evidence to support my claim can be found in the film’s Third Act.  It’s like we just went through a rampage of destruction through a major city with no concern at all for innocent bystanders, etc.  It was like the “Battle of Chicago” all over again, but on a much more minuscule scale of course. Let’s just face it, whether it’s in the vehicle or fighting on the streets, it’s a movie, folks.  In the real world there’s no way anyone would survive any of this.  There’s obviously more to nitpick about, but nevertheless it was still a lot fun too no matter how insulting it was.  However, it’s a pre-summer popcorn flick.  It’s supposed to be over-the-top, farfetched and ultimately crazy!  And I can be very forgiving at all the Michael Bay-like a$$ shots too.  So let’s move on now that I made my point and I’m pretty sure you’re all agreeing thus far.

Furious 7 - Paul WalkerWe already covered the shaky storyline, but we didn’t touch upon how things looked here in particular with the scenes Paul Walker was unfortunately unable to complete.  The filmmakers did well!  With the exception of a lot of shots of him near the end from the rear and some previous stock footage employed, things looked natural throughout and if you didn’t know the history of the production, you’d probably couldn’t tell at all.  Of course we all know it has to come to an end here for Walker’s character.  That was probably the biggest apprehension for me throughout.  I was watching what I knew would be my “last ride” with him and I had a hard time shaking that sadness, however, I found this memorial to him here much sadder than the way they ended his character’s story arc in the series.  So maybe that’s a testament to the filmmakers.  They didn’t go out of their way to make it a boohoo moment, but rather just a gradual good bye to a character we loved all these years much the way a favorite sitcom or television series would end.  Thankfully, the only tears I shed in this one were tears of joy from the exhilaration of the stunt sequences and the slapstick comedic moments and one-liners at times like one the Rock utters “I’m going to make his momma wish she never opened her legs.”  LOL.  Honestly, that’s what these movies are all about, having a good time, and that I did.  Mission accomplished!  Despite the problems present in the story, I look forward to where (if it does) this franchise travels to next (I’m hearing NYC).  I’m looking forward to my return trip to the cinema this weekend to revisit this one and hopefully have more fun with it now the critical job is all said and done.


Furious 7 Opens April 3rd





Furious 7 Movie Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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