By now the Fast saga has proved that its longevity is a result of the ensemble of characters that are more like outcasts that are bonded through loyalty and shared interest than any other trait. Furious 7 defines the term “Ride or Die” the franchises motto usually spoken by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) when he’s not saying “Family” every 5 lines of dialogue. This is the 7th installment Dom, we get it, your laurels rest on the love you have for your family, it’s in his DNA along with the motor oil that helps his blood pump from organ to organ.
The Fast saga is on a familiar trend that continues in Furious 7 – embracing the ridiculous. Each installment past Fast Five adds more utter bewilderment to its story written by the long-time franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan. Morgan raises the bar with each film and when you think a plateau has been reached, he finds a way to up the stakes. There is zero verisimilitude left in this series, characters are basically superheroes by now without the powers, costumes, and secret identities. How else does one save the world? in a tee-shirt, jeans, and a pair of low top vans. At least that’s how Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) does it.
Furious 7 before it even released in theaters would be a hard film to get through simply due to the loss of Paul Walker in a car accident. As sad and unfortunate the loss is, you can’t ignore the irony of it. At least for me, at the time, my philosophy with approaching the series going forward was to stop here. The franchise just lost its backbone, the one character that has been there since the beginning, whose point of view has been the main one we view this entire saga through. All the highs and lows that surround Brian, the love, the brotherhood and friendships made along the way are the focal point – without Brian there is no Fast and the Furious. Even with Dom as the heart and soul of the franchise it won’t be the same. Dom has been that constant with his silent fury, the calmness in his voice to the rage when someone comes after his family. Luckily majority of Paul’s scenes were shot while he was still alive, but the differences are easy to spot toward the end – hence why no close ups were on his face until the final moment when Brian and Dom go their separate ways.
It’s a touching and beautiful tribute that will pull on your heartstrings.
But money talks and this franchise is only growing in popularity and box office with each film – so of course the saga will continue, even without the import loving, adrenaline seeking, lover of being shot at O’Connor. Even Mia (Jordana Brewster) can see Brian is not made for domestic life.
One aspect that continues in Furious 7 is the family theme. With two key members having “died” in previous films (let’s face it, no one dies in this franchise, just like the MCU) the core group carries on that legacy of “family”. Dom’s team is just as capable with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Christopher ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), & Roman (Tyrese Gibson).
Where Furious 7 differs from its predecessors lies with the new main villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Morgan actually writes a decent villain with Deckard – Owen’s (Luke Evans) older brother hellbent on revenge for Dom’s team who put Owen in the hospital. Motivation alone, Deckard is the best villain, still lacking in the depth department though. Just like Hobbs’s intro into the series, Deckard is a raging bull – a Tasmanian devil who will stop at nothing to destroy everything in his path. Statham matches that ferocity beat for beat.
Let’s face it, you don’t go to a Fast saga installment for the plot, it’s equally as paper thin here with the ludicrous, bizarre heist model. This is no longer about the heist but the spectacle of pulling it off. Forget about the science and physics, that was thrown out the window the moment Dom and Brian fly a car through two buildings, nearly plummeting to their death in Abu Dhabi and walk away without a scratch. Or on the other hand, driving their cars out of a plane to attack a convoy on a mountain to rescue Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). None of it makes sense, the points aren’t real but it’s entertaining as hell.
It bothers me how calm they all are (minus Roman). These characters started out as street racers and D-list criminals and they’re feeling zero emotion free falling in a 1 ton machine that could end their lives in a split second. I’m more like Roman, freaking out with any kind of life or death stunt that has to be done to push a mission forward.
That’s exactly how this franchise remains fresh with Justin Lin in the director’s chair for most of the films. The action and stunts are cranked up 50 notches, they are panic inducing yet easily dazzle with how simple they are, outdoing the previous films. This time James Wan is helming the film and he doesn’t miss a beat from what Lin established in the previous 4 films. The DNA is there – all the thrills, moments of breath holding, the not looking away because of how outrageous the stunts are but with the emotional aspect added in knowing this is the last ride for Walker.
Furious 7 is an emotional rollercoaster – some moments are ridiculous but in the best ways possible. It’s what keeps bringing the fans back to the franchise, what will they do next, what stunt can be pulled that’s never been done before? What piece of technology will be up for the theft to save the world? In this case, it’s the God’s Eye being hunted by the team, funded by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), Deckard Shaw and Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).
I really wish Djimon would be utilized better in some of his roles. He’s fantastic and its criminal his character is basically useless.
The Fast saga has become a cultural icon, embracing many different cultures and blending them into one. At this point it’s used as a vessel for celebrity to stay relevant with small cameos as well as a chance to reintroduce older characters like Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) and Hector (Noel Gugliemi). There is no slowing down this franchise despite one of the founding members being taken from us way too soon.
Furious 7 is written by Chris Morgan based on characters by Gary Scott Thompson, directed by James Wan is Rated PG-13 and has an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. Furious 7 was released on May 24, 2015 in the United States and has a runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Furious 7 can be bought by online retailers like iTunes, Amazon, and Google. 4.5 out of 5.