Furious 7 (2015)
One last ride.
Furious 7 was the first movie I was really excited to see this year. It really signals the kick-off of "movie season" for me, the summer blockbusters that wait until the heat hits to pop your popcorn and steam the ice from your Coca-Cola. I love the Furious series. Like I said in my review of Fast & Furious 6, it's gone from a movie about an underground street racer to a crew of super heros, doing battle with villains on an unbelievable level. It's like as if a 13 year old boy's imagination has been transplanted to the screen. I hope that in Fast & Furious 8, they battle the Avengers.
Furious 7 continues to build where Fast & Furious 6 left off story-wise. The brother of a fallen villain comes to avenge him (played by Jason Statham). While avoiding him, the Fast crew is also tasked with grabbing an electronic gadget called 'God's Eye' for a U.S. shadow operation, which can track people in real time, wherever they are in the world. How will they grab the gadget from militants while avoiding Statham? With cars, of course. With lots and lots of cars.
You come to a Fast & Furious movie for the stunts. This one doesn't disappoint there. Taking things to yet another level, we have cars dropping out of the sky in the mountains, flying between skyscrapers in Abu Dabi, and screetching through the streets of L.A. There's also a fair bit of hand to hand combat here, and it's well done - Tony Jaa (The Protector, Ong Bak) is introduced to American audiences in Furious 7, and his talent is on full display. It almost made me forget about the pile of shit that was The Protector 2.
The cast is one of the reasons people keep coming back to the Furious series. They've obviously got buckets of chemistry (not including Michelle Rodriguez, who just seems out of place in every scene she shares with anyone) from the years of working together (since 2001). Unfortunately, this marks the last movie of Paul Walker's short career. The movie was not finished when he passed away, but the CGI is so well done that it was never distracting seeing Walker on screen. There were only a few scenes that were obvious to me that there was work done, but it never took me out of the movie. A scene where Brian talks on the phone with Mia was particularly choppy, but I have got to give the editors credit here. What a job they did. The Rock is fabulous as always, Statham was great, and there were a lot of bit cameos from old players in the series.
Furious 7 isn't lacking, however. The dialogue here seems to have gotten worse, something that I didn't think was possible after Fast & Furious 6. The one liners are god awful ("You know the thing about street fights? The street always wins."), with only The Rock getting laughs out of my audience. The story is filled with the same ridiculousness you've come to expect from the series. Statham's character magically appears in any country the crew travels to with the necessary gear to head them off at all times. If you've ever played Friday the 13th on the original NES, he reminds me of Jason. Anywhere, any time. Like he teleports. There are also very little consequences to our characters actions. Destroy three buildings in a foreign country? Next scene - back in L.A. There are maybe 3 cops shown in the entire movie, and their cars are dispatched of instantly. Again, this is par for the course, but it could have been done a bit smarter. There are also a curious amount of ass shots from women in bikinis. Anywhere they go, there's an ass to look at. My pal Moose put it pretty well - there are three speeds to this movie. 1, the rap video - slow motion women dancing or walking from behind set to music. 2, the soap opera with awful dialogue. 3, balls to the wall action.
As everything wraps up, they have a touching tribute for the late Paul Walker with a Vin Diesel voice over. It's a touching moment, and I swear someone was chopping onions in the theater while that was happening.
This wasn't my favorite Fast & Furious installment. Far from it, actually. I think Justin Lin was the perfect director for this, and he moved on to direct the Terminator series. James Wan does pretty well with what he had to work with, but it didn't do for me what 5 & 6 did.
My final score: C+