Film Review: Furious 7 (★★½)

An emotional send off for Paul Walker, with some explosions in between…


**This review contains spoilers**

Despite being seven movies in, this was the first time I actually went and saw a “Fast and Furious” movie in theaters. The franchise was never a must see, but I decided it was time to pony up and see this one on the big screen for the late Paul Walker. On the side, I was just hoping for a fun time at the movies.  Mission accomplished.

For starters, the script is downright bad as James Wan is proves to be a mediocre replacement for Justin Lin.  At best, the film lacks any real or cohesive structure; despite all of that, the outlandishness this series has grown into reached a fever pitch with “Furious 7” and made for an entertaining experience.

When “Fast Five” was released, a spoof video featuring a talk show interviewing its writer, which happened to be a five year old boy. The traditions of lackluster scripts continue with “Furious 7” as the film is filled with some cringe worthy and clichéd lines and the tiniest thread of plot. The film travels from location to location, from action piece to set piece as fast as the cars and the characters can drive.  It simply doesn’t matter how something gets there, just that Vin Diesel and Jason Statham have an awesome encounter for us to behold.

Never is that more clear than in the final act. Half of the time we’re following a terrorist leader, played by Djimon Hounsou, who has spent the whole movie trying to get a super surveillance system designed by a hacker that our heroes rescued. Our plot gets even more confusing: to fully access the system, Hounsou has to kill the hacker, which ends up blowing up half of downtown Los Angeles, but when his plan fails and he gets completely locked out of the system you know what he does? Flies off to kill Vin Diesel because… I actually don’t know why.

But that has been the trend of these films, pump up the action and lose everything else. What is more annoying is the departure of director Justin Lin, who helped reinvigorate the franchise directing the previous four films. James Wan replaces Lin and his personal flourishes offer more of a nagging distraction than anything else. Rather than the crisp and quick action we’ve grown accustomed, Wan goes for sweeping shots and inverted angles, disorienting the scene. Any effort by Wan to add his own stamp to the film feels more forced and out of place than interesting new features.

All the same, “Furious 7” is fun. Diesel mumbled lines about family, Dwayne Johnson and Statham were bad asses, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris offered some comic relief and Michelle Rodriguez continues to shine as the tough-as-nails Letty. It would have taken a monumental catastrophe for “Furious 7” to fly too far off the handles for the “Fast and Furious” franchise, though Kurt Russell sure did try.

Furious-7-Paul-Walker-2At the end of the day, this film is about one thing, and that’s saying goodbye to Paul Walker. On that front “Furious 7” soared. The whole film hints to Walker’s Brian as needing to learn to settle down and leave the life of car chases and bullets behind him so he can take care of his family. It all culminates in a final scene on the beach where he does just that. But not without one last ride with Diesel. A montage of scenes from the previous films and a narration from Diesel in character, though it is clear how much his and Walker’s relationship blended over to real life, emphasizing how the two will always be brothers. The two cars go their separate ways and the camera follows Walker’s as it rides off into the sunset and a white screen with the dedication ‘For Paul.’

If the film had been just those final five minutes I think most would have been satisfied. After his tragic accident in the fall of 2013, “Furious 7” was not just another blockbuster; it was the final film of Paul Walker and in the role that made him a star. It was a beautiful and emotional send off for Walker, who actually appeared in more of these films than Diesel.

As a whole, “Furious 7” is certainly not the best of the franchise, but it gives fans what they want and gave a lasting tribute to Paul Walker, easily delivering the best moment of the entire franchise.

“Furious 7” is currently in theaters.

What do you think?

Written by Michael Balderston

NoVA native who has returned to the Washington D.C. area after two years in L.A. My biggest annoyance since leaving L.A. is not having immediate access to indie films on their first weekend, but I'm making due. When I'm not tracking the year's Oscar players or exploring film history, I'm rooting for my Philadelphia sports teams.

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