Evan Slead ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant TV Editor
The return of the fast and furious crew to the big screen has been highly anticipated to say the least. In light of the tragic loss of cast member Paul Walker midway through shooting, the big question was how this latest iteration would bring the high-octane action and campy dialogue into a reality that is dealing with heartache. Thankfully, director James Wan stepped away from his usual scare tactics and approached Furious 7 as a lighthearted drama with a taste of heartfelt tribute. While this latest film does not match the magical components that give Fast Five its wonderful energy, Furious 7 brings all of the usual road raged, romanticized street racing to a new level.
Last time Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew were taking care of business, they left Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in a coma of sorts, which queues new baddie Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to take revenge for his brother. Targeting Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) first to deliver the message to the rest of the crew, Deckard shows his equally unrelenting and dubious nature to take revenge on the team. Once he leaves an unwanted package for Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) that levels their home, Dom realizes that he needs to take every precaution to keep those he loves alive. On top of it all, Letty (Michelle Rodriquez) (back from the grave) still has no memories of her time in the past with Dom or the crew. As Deckard picks off member after member, Dom is forced to team with the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to acquire the “God’s Eye” system created by the young hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel).
Wan, new to the series after the departure of Justin Lin, made sure to inject as much octane as possible into the long running, glamorized street racing genre. As a long time horror director, Wan still manages to show his range with different genres, especially with the action scenes. The film is set up in sequences of action (as most of the Fast and Furious films are) and Wan packs as many varied shots and approaches to action as possible. One of the most notable scenes is the crew attempting to get a laughably high priced car out of skyscraper. The joy that Wan brings is setting up this moment for the viewer to conclude that the only way to get the car out of the building is to drive it out the window. The viewer gets exactly what they want, plus a little more, as the car has to jump from building to building. It’s over the top and physically unrealistic, but in Wan’s hands, it works. Another winning aspect to his directing is the humor. The actors give the characters their all, and with the set up of the scenes, the jokes hit harder. Overall, Wan can add “action director” to his résumé with no problem.
Despite the highs, there are some issues. The story is a little heavy handed and sloppy when looking at past straightforward iterations in the series like Fast Five. The problems that the story introduces seem to just fold into the solution without giving a great explanation as to what to expect next. Granted, these decisions do not ruin the film, but just become small hurdles that could have been fixed to create a perfect ride. The performances all around are solid with a good mixture of action one-liners to deliciously cheesy melodrama. When it comes to the departure of Walker from the series, it was handled extremely well, with a reverent montage shown to honor his presence in the series and the hole he will leave. Furious 7 is just as much an action film as it is a film promoting family. The nuclear family no longer drives the American mindset it argues, but rather the collection of people that uphold respect and honor are truly family. This latest film may not be the best in the series, but it becomes a solid addition to the Fast and the Furious team.
Overall Grade: A-