Furious 7 Review: A Moveable Feast
By: Matthew Patton
Furious 7 (2015)
Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, LUDA!
There’s a moment in Furious 7 where American hero Dominic Toretto drives the world’s most expensive supercar through the window of a massive skyscraper only to land the car in another skyscraper. He then subsequently repeats this seemingly impossible act, making contact with a third structure and destroying a cache of ancient Chinese terracotta warriors upon finally landing the vehicle. This scene is a perfect metaphorical encapsulation of what the Fast and the Furious franchise has become – a nuanced and careful destruction of traditional theories of cinema and storytelling through playful adrenaline, modern technology, and suspension of logic. Fast Five brought the series into a whole new arena, changing the dynamic of the plot from a story about people who drive fast cars to a story about people who engage in espionage, wild capers, and the defiance of the laws of physics because they drive fast cars. If that film was the catalyst this franchise desperately needed, this wild installment is the steroid-soaked pinnacle of chaos.
Throughout the film, Toretto calls his crew “family”. This time around, our protagonists have their familial bonds threatened by a villain seeking revenge for a member of his own family. This is of course Deckard Shaw, the crazy/deadly older brother of the previous film’s baddie, Owen Shaw. Jason Statham is delightfully comfortable this role, bringing a level of intensity that may warrant a return appearance in future installments.
Furious 7 actually does a remarkable job of giving ample screen time to the members of Toretto’s team, as each of them perform roles which only serve to highlight their importance – and the movie actually calls attention to this fact on more than one occasion. This is made completely evident in what is now the franchise’s most ambitious and thrilling action setpiece yet, a jaunty and suspenseful rolling heist though the mountains of Central Europe.
Undoubtedly, with series star Paul Walker’s death during production of this film, there was a lingering element of sadness hanging over the project. Despite this, director James Wan and his entire crew were able to put together a coherent film, so much so that it actually seems as though Walker had already finished filming his major scenes. When coupled with the heartfelt send-off at the end of the picture, Furious 7 proves more than capable of carrying enough emotional weight as well.
Furious 7 relishes in the current trend of popular features (Kingsman, 50 Shades, Guardians of the Galaxy) that happen to be more concerned with elaborate fun than with any kind of thought provocation. That’s not to say that films like these are entirely mindless, though. Furious 7 might rival the destructive nature of Michael Bay’s Transformers saga, but it possesses a stimulating, child-like self-awareness that the latter distinctly lacks. Future plans for the Fast series might be up in the air, but the winning formula that’s currently put to screen looks to give this ever-intriguing franchise some serious longevity.