April 6, 2015
"Furious 7" follows the same adrenaline rush formula that fueled the first six film in the franchise to box-office success. The barely-there story just functions to string together some of the most memorable and impossibly spectacular stunts involving the most muscular cars ever captured on film. As the stunts get more and more complex and incredible, there is a dramatic real-life twist that would challenge the filmmakers further for this seventh installment, and that is the death of star Paul Walker in, as fate would have it, a race car accident. How they deal with Walker's death in the film will be a matter of curiosity among fans of this franchise.
The plot here follows right from FF6. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a Black-Ops savvy brother of a former fallen enemy, is out for revenge big time. Striking a deal with a secret government agent code-named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his posse rescues Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), a hacker who had been kidnapped by Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), a terrorist with military-grade firepower. Ramsey had developed God's Eye, a powerful tracking system which can use all available digital devices around to locate any subject.
On the action front, this film is on adrenaline overload as the gang goes from Los Angeles and Tokyo, to Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi.. The cars here don't only look great, they also do the most amazing things. I'm sure it was really very hard to top the already over-the-top stunts we saw in FF6, but the insane stunts we see here in FF7 could definitely match them. Cars jumping out of planes ( a major stunt dubbed "air drop"), cars hurtling down cliffs, cars jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper -- they have got it all here!
With Jason Statham there in the mix as the main antagonist, there would not be a dearth of heart-stopping, bone-crunching mano-a-mano fights. Right off the bat, Statham would engage Dwayne Johnson in a hard-hitting brawl that destroys an entire office. Of course, there will also be a climactic Aston Martin-smashing face-off with Vin Diesel himself at the end. Paul Walker had his own breathtaking fight inside a moving van against Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa. Michele Rodriguez had her dynamic fight scene in full evening gown regalia vs. MMA star Ronda Rousey in an elegant penthouse suite.
The FF series is as much about family as it about action, and this is not forgotten here. Toretto is dealing with the amnesia suffered by his wife Letty. Walker's character Brian is trying to quietly settle down as a family man with Dom's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster).The much-anticipated final send-off and goodbye to Paul Walker was touching yet very manly.
Director James Wan takes a break from his horror films and successfully orchestrates these visually spectacular out-of-this world vehicular stunts with his crew. They were also able to give Paul Walker a fitting and dignified farewell. The scenes where Paul's real life brothers Caleb and Cody stand-in for him were not obvious as the editing was very well done.
Of course, they made Toretto and company virtually superheroes the way they can emerge from all those incredibly dangerous situations unscathed. It does seem absurd, but isn't this really how fans consider them? The "humor" of Tyrese Gibson's character Roman can be groan-inducing, especially in that party scene, but I'd say it's tolerable.
Overall, I would say that this particular installment of the FF series definitely achieved what it set out to do. This is a very entertaining film indeed. The Lykan HyperSport and Nathalie Emmanuel look fantastic. When put side by side with the other FF films I've seen though, I think Fast 5 and FF 6 were still better than this. 7/10.