Confidence goes a long way folks, and I don’t know if you can get more confident then the Fast and Furious movies. The last four films keeps stacking the odds, keeps upping their game, and slowly starts transforming itself into a new kind of films series. Remember when this series was about illegal street racing and stealing DVD players? Now we have a massive battle in middle of Downtown LA and our heroes are driving and fighting it out with helicopters and missiles. It’s insane…but so gloriously insane that it still works.
James Wan is the new director for the series and while I thought it was going to be tough to step into the shoes of Justin Lin (who directed movies 3-6) Wan has proven himself more then capable of pulling off the job. He directs this film with a ton of visual flair but it still feels like a proper piece of the film series. It doesn’t stand out in a bad way. The action sequences are outstanding, with the big mountain chase being one of the best in the entire series. He shoots the hand to hand battles with just as much zeal, especially the finale fight between Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham.)
The gang once again is used to full effect, and it’s the banter between our leads that still makes it fun to keep going back to this series. Tyrese Gibson gets a ton of great material in Furious 7, and this might be one of the best uses of Roman since 2 Fast 2 Furious. Honestly, my favorite bit of business is in Abu Dhabi and it’s the back and fourth between Dominic and Brian (Paul Walker) as they try to steal a super expensive super car (it…makes more sense if you see the flick). It’s actually some of the best interaction between the two, and honestly really funny. Michelle Rodriguez is used JUST right in this, and she gets great moments in the flick. Like Paul Walker, Rodriguez has gotten better with age and I like how she plays Letty more now then she did in the first movie. It’s kinda funny they decided that a new tradition for the series is for Michelle to fight another famous MMA fighter, this time it’s Ronda Rousey. This fight is pretty good, but not as good as the fight with Gina Carano (also, Rousey is actually a worse actress then the stiff Gina Carano from the last film.) The knock against the film is pushing Jordana Brewster’s character, Mia, off too the side AGAIN. Mia gets a few moments here and there, but it’s clear they stop knowing what to do with her since Fast Five. It’s like they feel writing Mia away is the best call as oppose to having her be involved with the plot which is unfortunate.
Now, did Statham FINALLY give me the memorable villain that I think this series needed? Almost. Statham is pretty great in this and he’s certainly a formidable foe. The way they used his character of Deckard Shaw was fun. Imagine if the Fast and the Furious movies were set in the Matrix and Agent Smith enters the room, except Agent Smith is Jason Statham. That’s Deckard Shaw. He shows up magically, fucks shit up, and will disappear in a blink. He’s definitely the best villain in the series by far, but he’s practically in his own movie and he doesn’t really have that much interaction the rest of the gang. He mostly fights Dom. I feel like he could have been used a bit more and having him fight and interact with the other members of the team would have helped.
The films downside might be it’s own ambition, ironically that’s something that I still applaud the series for having. For the first time in these movies, they had a plot that was tad bit more complicated then it should have been. They even added a cliched Macguffin for them the chase. It’s also the first time watching these movies that made me finally start thinking….maybe this series is going a bit to far. Having the gang get involved in a flat out spy movie scenario started to feel a bit much for me. Maybe NOW we’re too far away from what these series was before. Also (no spoilers) they accidentally repeated a huge dramatic beat from the last film but with less effect in Furious 7.
As for how the series goes forward with out the character of Brian since Paul Walkers passing? Well, they did do a send off of the character. While I’m not sure if the approach works for the film itself, I understand for Vin Diesel and the rest of the cast and crew, it was a way for them to pay tribute to Walker. I’m not gonna lie, it was touching for me and I could feel how emotional it was for the cast in this ending.
Overall, I still had a ton of fun with Furious 7. Great action set pieces, funny as hell, well pace, and just insane enough to catch my attention. Now, do I want an eight film? Personally…no. This is the first I’ve started to see some elements of fatigue in this series. It’s only really minor but I think it would be better for them to just go out on a high note.
Well….unless they wanna make THIS into a reality….
And if they wanna make another Shaw family member the bad guy, I hear Helen Mirren really wants to be in a Fast and Furious film.
Fuck…I’d see that. A time traveling Vin Diesel vs Helen Mirren? Now THAT’s a sequel worth making.