By Ross Bonaime
The transition of the Fast & Furious franchise has been fascinating over these last fourteen years. What started as a mediocre series of racing films that almost died in direct-to-DVD hell has become the most unlikely superhero franchise, I assume from overexposure to gigantic amounts of NOS. Thanks to the direction of Justin Lin, who directed Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift to Fast & Furious 6, the series became self-aware around Fast Five, focusing less on the fast and more on being as furiously crazy as possible and creating some of the most exciting action films in recent memories. With James Wan, director of Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring, taking over, Furious 7 easily pulls off the most ridiculous and ridiculously fun film in the franchise while ending on a surprisingly touching note.
The Fast & Furious franchise also has one of the most intricate and twisty timeline, with Furious 7 starting off in between Fast & Furious 6 and Tokyo Drift, the third film in the series that is chronologically the sixth. Yeah, it’s nuts. Furious 7 begins with craziness. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is in the hospital room of his brother Owen, the main villain of Fast & Furious 6, vowing to avenge his brother by killing the people who put him in his current state. If you’ve never seen a Fast & Furious film, 7 puts you in the right mindset from the get-go as we see that for no discernible reason, Deckard has destroyed almost all of the hospital with various grenades and explosions, with the exception of his brother’s room. It’s insane, nonsensical and amazing.
After Deckard puts Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital and kills Han Seoul-oh (yup), in a scene directly taken from Tokyo Drift, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) gets the ol’ crew together again to stop the man hunting them. When this franchise started, Toretto’s crew/family were just excellent car thieves, but Furious 7 puts the entire group working with secret government agencies, helping to retrieve a device called the “God’s Eye,” the type of surveillance weapon that’s basically Edward Snowden’s worst nightmare. As this point, If 9 Fast 9 Furious: Race to the White House had President Vin Diesel fighting ISIS single-handedly, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.
Furious 7 throws more plot in than any previous iteration, yet the search for Deckard and the God’s Eye are basically two big MacGuffins in order to create some of the most wild action sequences known to man. Furious 7 adds plenty of new cast members to push this crazy ride over the limit, with Toretto’s government official helper Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a terrorist who is also after the God’s Eye (Dijmon Hounsou) and a henchman (Tony Jaa) who seems insistent on kicking Paul Walker’s Brian’s ass.
Amongst all the overwhelming insanity, Justin Lin was able to create Michael Bay-level action sequences, but in a way that made sense and never confusing. Wan picks up the torch for the most part, yet he does occasionally wander into making things a bit too shaky and too close up, making sequences slightly too disorienting. It rarely happens, but his constantly moving camera can sometimes distract from the amazing things happening onscreen.
The Fast & and Furious clearly ripped off Point Break with the first film and Furious 7 has moments that seem stolen from other material. Without giving away the incredible action sequences, the first major car scene is reminiscent of Death Proof and the Uncharted franchise, while the entire second act feels like writer Chris Morgan started putting the script together directly after watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Still, Fast & Furious continues its welcome tradition of being the loudest, dumbest and most fun franchise currently in production. Furious 7 knows exactly what type of film it is and relishes in just how much it can push the limit and beyond. This is the type of film that can make a person getting out of a cast a standing ovation-worthy moment. Furious 7 ends with an incredibly touching homage to the late Walker and no matter how wild these seven films have gotten, this concluding moment is somewhat cheesy but wonderfully affective, showing that despite all the crashes and races, this franchise has somehow worked its way into our hearts.
Vin Diesel recently said Furious 7 should win the Best Picture Oscar at the next Academy Awards. Of course he was laughed off, but when a film is this much fun, exciting and ridiculous and reveling in its insanity – and successful on nearly every front – I say why not? A film like this deserves to be recognized. As we get into the summer movie season, I defy any other film to be as nonstop fun as Furious 7.