Fast & Furious 7

Posted: April 13, 2015 in Film reviews

Directed by James Wan. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez and Jason Statham.

At the end of Fast & Furious 6 (I had to check online to figure out when they lost the ‘thes’ from the title!) the team had defeated the criminal Owen Shaw and had been given pardons by the US government. Now Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is trying to help Letty (Rodriguez) regain her memories, whilst former FBI agent Brian O’Conner is trying to adapt to suburban life as husband and father.

Unfortunately their lives are going to be shaken up because Owen Shaw had a brother, a man named Deckard (Statham). A former Special Forces assassin, he’s a highly dangerous individual and he has his sights set on wiping out the team in revenge for what happened to his brother, and anyone who saw to the end of FF6 will have already seen him take out Han in Tokyo.

After almost killing secret service agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) he blows up Dom’s old house. The blast almost kills Dom and Brian, not to mention Mia (Dom’s sister and Brian’s wife played by Jordana Brewster) and Jack (Mia and Brian’s son, do keep up!)

Making sure Mia and Jack are safe Dom and Brian, along with fellow team members Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris Bridges) are recruited by shadowy government spook played by the ever reliable Kurt Russell. He has a deal for the team, if they help him rescue a computer programmer who’s invented software that can hack into any camera in the world and locate anyone, he’ll let them have first dibs on using the software to find Deckard before he finds them.

The team have to travel from LA to the Caucasus Mountains, on to Abu Dhabi and then back to LA for a furious finale, crossing swords with a dangerous terrorist played by Djimon Hounsou and battling Deckard every step of the way, but will the team live to drive off into the sunset?

When I came out of the cinema my first comment went something along the lines of; “That’s the stupidest film of the decade.” Believe it or not this wasn’t meant as a criticism, but a few days have mellowed this statement to a more reasonable; “That’s the most ridiculous film of the decade!”

You might think this is hyperbole but I assure you it isn’t. This film is utterly ludicrous, with cars parachuting out of planes, cars jumping between skyscrapers, helicopter gunships attacking downtown LA and a man shrugging off his plaster casts to pick up a Gatling gun. Cars crash into each other at high speed and the drivers not only get out unhurt, but are then able to start fighting each other with no ill effects. I kid you not but if aliens had shown up near the end I wouldn’t have been that taken aback (maybe FF8…)

Of course the ridiculousness of the film means your opinion of it will probably be in direct correlation to how much you can suspend your disbelief. As stated, my comments about it being the most ridiculous film of the decade wasn’t really a criticism, I didn’t so much suspend my disbelief as throw it off a cliff.

It is interesting to think that a franchise that started with a small scale B-Movie that relied on the charisma of Diesel and Walker, and some flashy car stunts, has turned into a series that Michael Bay might suggest was a trifle over the top. It’s clear all concerned are well aware of the preposterousness of the film, and are probably just going out of their way to turn things up to 11…sorry I meant 111! In particular Dwayne Johnson seems to be having a blast as Hobbs, it’s just a shame he’s not in it more.

Vin Diesel isn’t the worst actor in the world, but he’s better when he’s flexing his muscles or behind the wheel of a car than when he’s trying to emote. He leads the line well though, not easy to do when you have the sheer charisma (not to mention muscle) of the actor formally known as The Rock on one side, and the laconic cool of Statham on the other. Statham makes for an engaging villain (certainly a better foe than FF6 had), and the gruff tough guy almost becomes likeable at times.

Of course the big news during the production of the film was the tragic death of Walker and how the film would cope with his loss. I believe various techniques were used, from CGI to lookalikes and even Walker’s brothers, and it seems clear that the end was rewritten. I wasn’t really looking for the joins, and so I didn’t pick up on parts where it wasn’t actually Walker. In hindsight perhaps a few moments seemed fake, and there were more than a few longshots of Brian, but on the whole it was a good job by all concerned.

Whilst there is a slight unease about a film the glorifies fast cars paying tribute to a man who died in a car crash, you can’t help but feel the genuine affection all concerned felt for the man, and the film, and in particular the final few minutes, will stand as a tribute to him as well as allowing the character of Brian to be retired from the franchise. It’s rare you get something that emotional in a film this testosterone fuelled.

As for the rest of the cast; Rodriguez is strong as Letty, even if I somehow doubt she could really go toe to toe with Ronda Rousey, and she and Diesel share genuine chemistry. Their parts may border on cliché at times, but Tej and Roman still remain probably my favourite characters and the banter between Bridges and Gibson is a joy to behold. Nathalie Emmanuel feels a little stilted as the computer hacker, and Hounsou does his best with a role that doesn’t give him nearly enough to get his teeth into. That just leaves Kurt Russell, and I’ve been a fan for a long time so I thought he was great.

The film’s set pieces are well handled, even if you can’t help feeling there might have been one too many of them. That said, for a film 2¼ long it does seem to fly by. Here’s a tip though, don’t stay through the credits, there isn’t a bit at the end this time around. Logic is jettisoned early on, and it’s never explained how Deckard keeps finding them, or why they need to God’s Eye software when all they have to do is wait for him to show up, but the film hurtles along at such speed that you don’t get to think too much about the plot holes until later.

It’s bloated, ridiculous, and at times just a tad too sexist than it needs to be (I admire the female form as much as the next guy but the number of gratuitous bikini butt shots verged on unsettling) but it’s a fun ride and any concerns about morality are balanced by a sense of family and doing the right thing, even if the right thing is hitting Jason Statham with a tyre iron…

Utterly ludicrous, utterly enjoyable!

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