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Furious 7

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Release Date: April 3, 2015


Movie Review - 'Furious 7'

by Adam Pavlacka on April 3, 2015 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Continuing the team's global exploits in the unstoppable franchise, Furious 7 features Deckard Shaw seeking revenge against Dominic Toretto for the death of his brother, Owen Shaw.

The "Fast and the Furious" franchise has come a long way since the original film debuted more than a decade ago. The series may have had its roots in precision driving and small-time theft, but after "Fast & Furious" relaunched the series in 2009, the focus has been all about the action. Much like the blockbusters of the '90s, both "Fast Five" and "Fast & Furious 6" focused on fun over reality, and the latest installment, "Furious 7," continues that tradition.

Picking things up a year or two after the events of "Fast & Furious 6," "Furious 7" acts as a touchstone, tying the events of all the previous movies together. Chronologically, it happens right after the third film, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," as hinted at in the post-credits scene of the sixth movie. Although Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) have tried to return to a "normal" life in Los Angeles, their past refuses to be left behind.

Ex-black ops agent Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) wants revenge on Dom and his crew for taking down his little brother, Owen Shaw, in the last film. With no way to track the elder Shaw, Dom makes a deal with Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), another black ops agent, to secure the God's Eye, a computer spy program that looks like it was plucked right out of "Person of Interest." Along the way, they also have to face off with a warlord (Djimon Hounsou) and a Middle Eastern prince. If it all sounds like a setup for some amazing action sequences, that's because it is — and the payoff is wonderful.

One of the main reasons the "Fast and the Furious" movies have worked so well is because of the action sequences, and in that regard, "Furious 7" does not disappoint. On-road and off-road racing are both present, as well as a few mid-air sequences. Both the skydiving sequence and the Abu Dhabi skyscraper scenes are worth the price of admission alone, and the latter is way more impressive than the trailers let on.

Speaking of trailers, credit has to be given to the marketing team for "Furious 7." Although the trailers tease a lot, they don't spoil any of the best bits, which is a rarity in advertising these days. The tease you get in the "Furious 7" advertising is just that, a tease.

Alongside the great stunt work, there are also a few crashes that are sure to make even the most stalwart viewer wince. Whether that is out of concern for the driver in question or concern for the car is something best left unsaid.

In addition to the action, the other major reason the "Fast and the Furious" movies have succeeded over time is the excellent characterization. It's clear that this is a cast that enjoys what it does, and the on-screen banter reflects that familiarity.

There is no better example than when playboy Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and hacker Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) are going at it. Ludacris does a great job of playing Tej as extremely low-key, but he's not afraid to get his hands dirty when needed. It doesn't matter if that is poking fun at Roman to prod him along or simply playing up the physical humor moments. One memorable bit (of many) has Tej driving an armored jeep into a hail of bullets while starting to sing "U Can't Touch This." Roman and Tej check out a girl, only to have Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) call them both out. These two characters could probably carry a film on their own.

Unfortunately, "Furious 7" does make two major casting missteps. Thankfully, both are relatively short sequences, but both are horribly out of place. The first occurs early on in the film, when Iggy Azalea randomly shows up to give a shout-out to Letty. It doesn't mesh with the tone of the movie and feels like a crass bit of product placement.

The second occurs midway through the film, when Letty faces off against a security guard played by MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. To call Rousey's performance "stiff" would be an understatement. She fights well, but her lines come across as someone reading a teleprompter. There is no intonation and no emotion.

The complete opposite of Rousey is martial artist Tony Jaa. Jaa plays one of the warlord's lieutenants and faces off against Walker's character more than once. He doesn't say much, but Jaa has mastered the art of facial expression, conveying much with a single look. He also gets to show off plenty of fancy skills in fights that are well choreographed.

With all that is going on in "Furious 7," you might think the story runs the risk of getting convoluted, but director James Wan manages to keep everything well paced. If you've seen all of the previous films, there are nods to all of them. If you haven't, all of the necessary story elements are clearly presented, so you won't feel like you're missing anything. In short, "Furious 7" works as a swan song for the franchise as well as a stand-alone film.

More importantly, Wan handles Paul Walker's send-off with elegance and class. Walker was killed in a car accident before the film was finished, so his brothers Caleb and Cody served as stand-ins for certain scenes, with CGI being used to replicate Walker's face. Just before the end of the film, there is an incredibly touching sequence, where all of the characters say goodbye to Brian, but it's obvious that each of them is also saying goodbye to a fellow actor and friend.

"Furious 7" manages to capture the best elements of the franchise while still remaining accessible to new viewers. It's loud. It's fast. It requires some suspension of disbelief. It's also fun as hell, and you can't ask for much more than that from a blockbuster action flick.

Score: 9.0/10

"Furious 7" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. It is showing in 2-D and IMAX.

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