Furious 7 - You Thought This Was Gonna Be A Street Fight?

Furious 7
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham
Release Date: April 3, 2015
Run Time: 137 minutes

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew thought they had finally left the criminal life behind them, but Fast Six made almost 800 million dollars so come hell, high water, or a star's death halfway through filming, Universal is going to get every red cent they can out of this franchise. This time they’re after Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the brother of the forgettable villain from the last movie. There’s also some nonsense about a computer program called God's Eye that can tap into any electronic device and a hacker with a super cool code name. There's also some Somalian warlord who shows up for no reason, Michelle Rodriguez fights another female MMA fighter, Kurt Russell comes in and starts talking about Belgian Ale, and they get chased around Los Angeles by a predator drone. I don't know man, shit. I'd like to see you try to make sense of any of this.

Whether you're a genuine fan of the franchise or you think it's a bunch of movies made solely for everyone you hated in high school, there are two things you can agree on for this installment: the ending of the movie is a beautiful tribute to Paul Walker by people who saw him as a friend instead of just a costar, and not a single bit of the plot makes any fucking sense.

I don't envy trying to make this movie. I can’t imagine how much of his own hair James Wan pulled out trying to make a semi-competent story. There's an entire subplot based around Paul Walker's character that was obviously tacked on after his death in order to salvage this movie. There's a whole lot of Dom and Mia talking about Brian with him nowhere to be found. There are conversations between Dom and Brian that are basically "Brian you sure do miss the bullets, right? It must be hard to adapt to family life with a white picket fence and a minivan and a kid. I mean you used to be in the FBI and then we did all that cool stuff for 4 movies, it’s going to be very hard for you, Brian O’Conner, to transition to a full time father" "Yeah." Luckily for the viewer, the rest of the plot is so god damned stupid that the story additions don't stick out like a sore thumb. 

It's hard to even look in his eyes without crying tbh

Don't get me wrong, I'm not "fat guy on the Internet who nitpicks movies." I'm just fat guy who loves stupid bullshit and has loved this franchise longer than I've loved most of the people in my life. But the plot is ridiculous, even for the high high high high high HIGH bar set by Fast Six. The major action set pieces are so much fun to watch that you forget that the 20 minutes leading up to it made zero sense and were thrown together as some NOS-infused mad-libs. 

Don’t believe me? Let’s get into this. Owen Shaw, the villain from Six, is somehow still alive after the last movie despite being inside a massive cargo plane as it exploded. Whatever. His older brother, Jason Statham, is here to systematically murder the entire crew. And by the entire crew, I mean we can finally tie Tokyo Drift into the rest of the franchise's timeline. Statham makes quick work of Han (who this movie desperately misses) and then spends the rest of the film following the crew around and showing up to every corner of the world to snarl menacingly and fire off machine guns. Vin Diesel barely survives an encounter with him and then Kurt Russell shows up out of nowhere and recruits these guys who drive cars real fast to retrieve what is basically Batman's sonar device from The Dark Knight in order to keep it out of the hands of terrorists. 

The U.S. government can't get involved for some reason, so he hires five idiots that used to race cars at night and rob trucks to essentially become international spies (FINALLY we get Vin Diesel as xXx again). The crew agree, because if they retrieve the device it will allow them to go after Shaw to avenge Han, despite the fact that Shaw finds them literally everywhere they go so all they have to do is hold up for like a day and he'll appear. So you're sitting in a theater thinking to yourself "wait a second, why are they flying to Azerbaijan to retrieve a computer chip if they can literally just stay in LA and Shaw will reappear" and then cars parachute out of a plane, there's a massive mountainside chase scene, and the blonde guy from She's All That has a hand to hand fight with Tony Jaa in the back of a bus that's about to careen off the side of a cliff and you stop asking silly questions like "who? what? why?” and accept that it was all a bunch of nonsense leading to an action scene. And if you think that's insane, just wait until you get to the third act. 

That's exactly what you think it is

But fuck all that nonsense about plot and reasons for things to happen that provide an emotional connection, we’re here for the crew. The crew from Six is back, sans Hans and Giselle for obvious reasons (i.e. being dead as fuck). Dom (Vin Diesel) has morphed to the point where he speaks solely in muffled one liners and glowers at the camera in really uncomfortable close-ups. Tej (Ludacris) is now an expert at hand to hand combat on top of being a master hacker, ignoring the fact that he was just a dude who promoted races 5 movies ago. Mia (Jordana Brewster) has nothing to do besides hide with the baby for the third movie in a row, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) still has amnesia, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) still cracks jokes, and Brian (Paul Walker) remains the foil to Dom’s Stallone macho bullshit. Unfortunately, Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson) isn’t in the movie nearly enough, but I can’t think of a single movie that wouldn’t be better without a 100% increase in The Rock. He almost wasn’t in the movie at all due to filming Hercules though, so I’ll take what I can get.

We were so close to living in a world where this didn't happen. What a terrifying thought.

As much as I love the crew, my favorite character is Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). The character doesn’t do anything, but Kurt Russell is hilarious because he looks like a regular human being who took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up in this ridiculous fantasy world and has decided to grab a beer and go along for the ride. We get a couple of old faces, like Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) looking like the oldest high schooler in history and approximately 3 seconds of Lil Bow Wow. Also there’s a female hacker who exists solely to walk out of the ocean in slow motion and hold a device that says “installing” so she can give us status updates on much progress she’s made on hacking her hack. Or something. Fuck it, this movie doesn’t make any sense. 

As important as the crew is to any movie, they’re nothing without their boring and underwhelming villains. I was hoping this time would be different. I was so excited. I remember seeing Fast Six and when the end credits revealed Statham walking away from Han’s exploding car I made excited squeals. This is going to be it. This is going to be the greatest action movie my stupid eyes have ever seen. The idea of mixing Chev Chelios with this insane world where Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Paul Walker are basically superheroes is the best idea I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, he’s my biggest problem with the movie.

Sadly, this never happens

He has a fantastic introduction that sets a tone for the rest of the movie, but he never lives up to. He’s not Chev, he’s not even the guy from The Transporter. He’s essentially Wile E. Coyote. He follows Dom to all corners of the world, menaces him, fails to kill him, then disappears, over and over again. It doesn’t matter where the crew run off to. They go to a place so inaccessible that they have to parachute cars out of planes to reach the road, yet here comes Statham just driving up alongside them in his Acme Rocket Car. Instead of being the greatest villain this series ever has had or ever will have, he’s a nuisance who appears, glowers, says something in a Cockney accent, and then fails to accomplish anything time and time again. There’s nothing for him to really do throughout the entire movie and it feels like he’s only here because the post credits scene in Six promised us he would be. 

While Statham is underwhelming and kind of a letdown, Vin Diesel is just a flat out detriment to the movie. I never thought I would type the following sentence in my life, but here we go: Paul Walker is the heart of this franchise. Vin Diesel is the tough guy with awful one liners and speeches about family and Coronas. Walker had a natural chemistry with all of his costars and the scenes that focused on him were always the best. Look at Fast Five, which I assume is the favorite entry for a majority of fans. There’s that subplot where he goes back to America to go to prison for some shit and the movie suffers for it in every scene until he comes back. Without him to counterbalance Diesel’s garbage lines, you’re left with a whole lot of soap opera grade melodrama. I am a man who adores every second of Commando, but every single one of Diesel’s lines are groan inducing. I'm not going to spoil the context, but if you don't laugh hysterically at "the streets always win" when it happens then I don't want to know you. The melodrama that follows Diesel isn't corny enough to be funny and compliment the over the top action. It just sucks. Every scene between him and Michelle Rodriguez is essentially the "I promise, I will never die" scene in Team America. 

"I don't have friends. I've got family."

The elephant in the room is obviously Paul Walker. How do they deal with his character? Do they kill him off? Do they send him back to his home planet? While the plot is a jumbled mess that’s barely held together with duct tape and prayer, the sendoff they give both the actor and the character is handled beautifully and is not only a goodbye for Brian O’Conner, but a sincere tribute from his close friends. At no point in the movie did it feel like the Grim Reaper was standing behind him, even when he’s racing down the highway at insane speeds. It’s never uncomfortable to watch him - except for one scene. I understand it was filmed a long time ago, but you can’t have a scene at a funeral where a character says “no more funerals” and then Paul Walker turns to him and says “one more.” 

I love this entire stupid series for everything it is and part 7 is no exception. The franchise is like a Jenga tower of stupid bullshit and I can't believe it hasn't toppled over yet. From stealing DVD players to running drugs to drift racing against the Yakuza to running drugs again but with Vin Diesel to robbing a Brazilian crime lord to the entire runway scene to this. A franchise that couldn’t get half of its stars back for part 2 almost a decade ago now has the greatest action movie ensemble cast. A silly Point Break ripoff has evolved into what The Expendables desperately wishes it was. Tony Jaa is one of the best martial arts actors around right now and he’s just here in a bit part for 10 minutes. Why? Because he can be, and this series has always been about coulda, not shoulda. 

Luckily this installment furthers the tradition of “fuck it, do it, see what happens.” My favorite part of the franchise is how a bunch of street racers have evolved into super heroes, and making them amazing spies on top of their inhuman strength, ability to use cars to break their fall from 20 stories up, and also drive really really fast was the only way to up the ante short of giving them capes and letting them fly. Sure they completely stole the God’s Eye device from The Dark Knight, but fuck the Nolan Batman movies, Fast 5, 6, and 7 make up the greatest super hero trilogy ever. I just can’t wait for the reveal in part 8 where it turns out Kurt Russel’s secret organization is actually SHIELD and he needs Dom and the crew to fly to space to retrieve the Infinity Gauntlet.  

Wait just a god damned second here...

The mountainside chase in the middle of the movie is more exciting than anything Michael Bay has put on film in a decade, the villains are completely forgettable, every scene with Dom is overly melodramatic, Vin Diesel fights people with pipes, and The People's Champion hits a Rock Bottom on Jason Statham. So basically, it’s perfect. It’s packed full of callbacks to earlier films and makes painstaking efforts to maintain continuity, which is something I always appreciate. As a man who spends hours of his limited time on this planet trying to place slasher movies onto a timeline, I appreciate bringing back a character from 6 movies ago just because. The one phrase I hate more than anything when going into a movie like this is “turn off your brain.” You shouldn’t have to be a vegetable just to get through a movie because it makes no sense. But…just do it. Trust me. It’s not only the fact that I’m having so much fun watching it, but it’s also because a director had to step in on the seventh entry of a series and was told here’s your villain, one of the stars has amnesia (hahaha good luck with THAT one, asshole), and your mainstay who has been in all but one movie died before filming all of his scenes. Good luck, dick. The fact that this movie even exists is amazing. The fact that it has one of the best action scenes of the year is even more impressive. 

This series never ceases to impress me. How many franchises even see a seventh film, much less have it make a billion dollars? How many franchises don’t hit their stride until the fifth movie? The entire Fast series is a monument to man’s arrogance and it continues to spit in the face of a fair and rational God who should have banished this to DVD sequels until the end of time. In a world where The Scorpion King 4 exists, Furious 7 should be right next to it on the shelf at Wal-Mart. But we don’t live in that world, we live in a world where The Rock is on his way to being one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood. What an awesome world we live in. 

So let's say hypothetically you don't live your life a quarter mile at a time and you're asking yourself "will I like this?" You look around in awe at the box office totals, completely bewildered by it. "There has to be something I'm missing, should I give it a shot?" I don't know you or your taste, but I can tell you if The Rock saying "Daddy's gotta go to work" and then breaking a cast off of his arm by flexing doesn't sound appealing to you then you're not going to enjoy this movie. Also I hate you. It has its flaws, and it’s certainly not Fast as it’s almost 2 and a half hours long, but it's the exact amount of Furiosity I waited two years for. It’s the seventh movie in a series, I knew what I was in for as soon as I bought a ticket.

I don't know why I even bothered writing all of this when this picture literally says a thousand words

I think I will enjoy it more once it hits blu ray because I had a weird issue in the theater. Everything was going fine, the action was fun, the jokes were terrible - everything I expected. But it got to the very end with the Paul Walker tribute and son of a bitch my eyes were itching something fierce. April allergies snuck up on me something fierce and by the time credits rolled my eyes were bright red and I was sniffling and tearing up. It's the damnedest thing, hopefully there won't be a lot of pollen in the air by the time I can watch it at home. 



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