‘Furious 7’ review: Thrilling but bittersweet

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April 7, 2015 by Hope W.

Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner in Furious 7

Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner in Furious 7

What can I say about Fast & Furious 7 (or Furious 7, as it is known in the US), which I haven’t already said about Fast & Furious 6? Or any other film in the franchise, for that matter?

In fact, entertainment website Slash Film starts its own review with: “Why are you even reading a Furious 7 review?”

It’s all about the muscles (both cars and men), the fights, the grossly impossible stunts, and the girls with hot bods — which frankly, is a description that applies to most blockbusters these days. I can’t even say if it’s the best movie yet of the entire franchise, which some critics are claiming, because I’m having trouble remembering how Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 were like.

The cars of Furious 7

The sexy cars of Furious 7

I didn’t watch 2 Fast 2 Furious, or The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. I would have been perfectly fine waiting for Furious 7 to come out on home video to watch it, like I did with Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6, because these sort of testosterone-filled movies are really not my cup of tea, if I have to pay to watch them. An exchange between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson’s characters *reeks* of machismo: “That was the official answer. And now let’s talk man-to-man, brother-to-brother: Don’t miss.” Urgh, the posturing!

Dwayne Johnson in Furious 7. By the way, that's not a flamethrower he's holding, it's a machine gun.

Dwayne Johnson in Furious 7. That’s not a flamethrower he’s holding, it’s a machine gun, if you can’t tell.

But Furious 7 is special of course, because Paul Walker died halfway through filming. Everyone, even people who haven’t watched a single Fast & Furious movie, is watching to see if the filmmakers managed to complete the movie well — while trying to pinpoint the scenes that Paul Walker obviously didn’t film — and how they end his involvement in the series in a plausible and respectful manner. (And I mean *everyone*: the film made US$391.6 million at the global box office last weekend, the fourth biggest global opening in history. Until Age of Ultron comes out, that is, which will push it to fifth.)

In light of that knowledge, every scene in the movie is bittersweet. The filmmakers must be acknowledged for pulling off the herculean task of finishing the movie without one of their main characters — replaced instead with Paul Walker’s brothers as body doubles, and CGI — which was largely successful, except some rather obvious parts. And at the end, they sent him off beautifully, bathed in a heavenly glow. Your heart will ache when you see them literally go their separate ways while Dom says goodbye to Brian in a voice-over — though at this point Vin Diesel bleeds into his character to say goodbye to Paul Walker.

Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner for "One Last Ride" in Furious 7

Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner for “One Last Ride” in Furious 7

But even on its own merit, the film entertains to a crazy level. The whole Fast & Furious franchise has dozens of over-the-top stunts, but jumping a car through three skyscrapers has got to take the cake — and the slow-mo mid-air shots make it even more epic. The best part was Brian in the passenger seat shouting panickedly: “Cars can’t fly, Dom, cars can’t fly!”, and then “Oh shit oh shit oh shit!” when Dom takes the leap anyway after seeing no other way out. But the scene that is already in the trailer, where Paul Walker runs up the side of a bus that is toppling off a cliff, and then flings himself onto the back of Michelle Rodriguez’s car which she swerved just so that the back sticks out over the cliff edge for him to grab on to, comes a very close second. The one where the cars parachute out of the plane — also seen in the trailer — seems positively easy, in comparison.

Fast & Furious 7

Jason Statham’s villain pops up like a ghost throughout the movie, which is funny if you think about it. I know he’s supposed to be black ops, but the way he appears randomly in the least likely places is just ridiculous. He’s the brother of the previous film’s villain, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), whom I thought died, but apparently not cause they show him in a hospital in the opening scene.

It’s a battle of testosterone, with all the hand-to-hand combats and smackdowns in this film. Dwayne Johnson fights Jason Statham, Vin Diesel fights Jason Statham, Tony Jaa fights Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez has a girl-on-girl fight with Ronda Rousey (who really is ugly, no matter how they dress her up. But hey, she’s rich and famous and has her fans, so she probably doesn’t care). But why would you expect anything else from a Fast & Furious movie?

Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto) and Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw) face off, after deliberately crashing head on into each other at high speed. And they emerge nary a scratch!

Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto) and Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw) face off, after deliberately crashing head on into each other at high speed. And they emerge nary a scratch!

Vin Diesel said (apparently seriously) that Fast & Furious 7 deserves a Best Picture Oscar. Which is the biggest joke of course, but Vin Diesel is a very earnest sort of guy, so you forgive him for making such nonsensical statements. If any summer blockbuster is going to win the Best Picture Oscar, it’s going to be the Avengers.

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