‘Furious 7’ is worth the time and money in the name of fun but check your brain at the door in order to enjoy the thrill-ride, folks. Thinking too much can be harmful or at least, disappointing to the ol’ cerebrum.
Furious 7 makes a lot of noise with its roaring cars and Michael Bay-esque explosions, making sure all the staples of this wildly successful franchise are on full display: Cringe-worthy dialogue, music-video style editing, a plot that doesn’t really matter or make sense, corny love subplots and stunt sequences that make an Avengers movie seem firmly grounded in reality.
But it’s these aforementioned “qualities” that make Furious 7 an adventure worth pursuing simply for the unbounded excitement — just don’t expect any Academy Award nominations for insightful studies of the human condition or our true place in the universe.
When the first Fast and Furious film came out during the summer of 2001 … I hated it. Apparently my generation was too stupid to realize they were watching a sanitized version of Point Break, only extreme sports and surfing had been replaced with street racing. Despite borrowing heavily from Point Break’s story, The Fast and the Furious became a pop culture phenomenon.
Every Friday night, the Big Bear (RIP) parking lot in Powell was filled with tricked out Honda Civics and Mitsubishi Eclipses, their subwoofers thumping and their exhausts whining; a battle cry screaming out with each rev of the engine. The scene was loud, shiny, expensive and a total testosterone fest.
In a weird “timing is everything” way, The Fast and the Furious, with its sexed-up cars (instead of clothes) and hip-hop/techno inspired soundtrack (the new Disco) became the Saturday Night Fever of the millennial generation.
Thankfully, Furious 7 bares little resemblance to the 35 million dollar budget film that caused all those tire marks in the Big Bear parking lot. Hell, the second act driving/action sequence – which probably cost more than the first film’s entire budget – might be one the best pieced together action sequences I’ve seen on film. The imagination and destruction (not involving buildings) that goes into these finely tuned 20 minutes had everyones’ eyes in the theater glued to the screen. And to director James Wan‘s credit, where the CGI starts and ends can’t be deciphered by the naked eye, unlike previous franchise installments.
Furious 7 also introduces some new players to the franchise. Notably, Kurt Russell and Jason Statham. Russell gives instant credibility and swagger to his character, but Statham’s villainous character is sorely underdeveloped and his signature fight scene with Dwayne Johnson comes off as unbelievable because of The Rock’s massive size.
The black cloud that hangs over you while watching Furious 7 is the tragic death of Paul Walker. Knowing how Walker perished in real life makes watching Furious 7 slightly uncomfortable and there are moments in the script that warn Walker’s character that his craving for the next big adrenaline rush will be his undoing.
It’s that scary and unwelcoming moment when art imitates life in the worst way imaginable. Before the credits roll, Walker receives a heartfelt and tear inducing tribute. There wasn’t a dry eye in theater after it played.
The franchise will no doubt continue on without Walker, it is a money making juggernaut and no one man is bigger than a successful Hollywood machine, but after 7 films … it’s only a matter of time before Fast and Furious’ gas tank reads empty.
Pabst Blue Ribbon!
About Bryan Kish
Bryan Kish writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.