Monday, April 6, 2015

[Review] Furious 7

After a train of unworthy sequels, the Fast franchise rejuvenated itself with Fast Five as it gained a sense of humor, indulged in its over-the-topness, delivered some elaborately staged action sequences, and added The Rock. In other words, it became a whole lot of fun. Furious 7 is the best example of that fun, working as an exhilarating action flick as well as a poignant sendoff for Paul Walker.

You're either already on board for this ride or you aren't, so there's no point to catch you up to speed in this review. All you need to know is, the core group (or family, as they like to say) of Dom (Vin Diesel) Brian (Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese), and Ludacris team up with a very cool covert ops leader (played by Kurt Russell) in order to hunt down the film's ruthless and highly decorated villain, appropriately played by Jason Statham. It's far from an easy task, and the whole endeavor involves heists, computer & camera hacking, and lots of physical combat.

The premise takes on more of a Mission Impossible type, rather than the racing genre tactics that the earlier installments hinged on. But don't get it twisted; there are still loads of fancy, expensive cars and close-up shots of *dat ass*. As expected, the setpieces are gleefully crazy. Highlights include a squadron of cars skydiving out of an airplane onto some mountains (which creates some literal cliffhangers), cars leaping through skyscrapers and into other skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, and The Rock breaking out of his arm cast by flexing. A lot of people might pass this off just as a big, mindless, throwaway action film, but the technical aspects--from the VFX to the stellar camerawork elevate this above the norm, even in the face of the deftly aware questionable physics and total ridiculousness. If you're one of those people that says "There's no way that would actually work" or "There's no way he/she would survive that," then you've come to the wrong place.

The movie clocks in at two hours and 20 minutes, but it never feels that long, particularly because it's straight-up entertaining and the pacing is set to hyper drive, feeling like the film is in constant motion. There are also some impeccably timed, campy but clever one-liners. The only slip-ups are the couple of soap-y scenes between Dom and Letty, but they're somewhat forgivable. Given the close-knit nature of the cast, the themes of friendship and family are echoed throughout. And in regards to Paul Walker, there's an undercurrent of his impending departure and the idea that he's on his way home, and all of this is tied up in a respectful and beautiful ending that you just have to see.

* 8.5/10 *

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