By: Mark Di Stefano
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
From what started as a street race in Los Angeles to what eventually became a globe-trotting adventure spanning across Rio De Janeiro, Tokyo, and Europe, the Fast & Furious franchise has become a box-office sensation. How the series has grown over the years was beyond anything I could have imagined.
With the tragic passing of series star Paul Walker in late 2013, I also couldn’t imagined how the franchise would end, or if it could. Instead of just pulling out, the cast and crew regrouped, went back to the drawing board and collectively decided to move on and finish the movie.
Furious 7 is the action-packed culmination of their blood, sweat and, unfortunately, tears. While not perfect, it’s still one last great ride for the series, and offers fans a meaningful goodbye for Walker’s character.
7 picks up directly where Furious 6 ended, with Dom and Brian (Vin Diesel and Walker, respectively) and the rest of the crew returning home to L.A. after taking down master criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Unknowingly, they pissed off his big brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and he’s looking to take Dom and his crew out. After Killing Han (Sang Kang) in Tokyo at the end of Furious 6, Dom rallies everyone to take down Shaw, so they can once and for all live happily ever after. In order to do that they have to help Frank Petty (the always awesome Kurt Russell), and his top-notch covert-ops team to recover a highly sophisticated tracking device, so they can use it to track Deckard’s whereabouts.
One thing I’ll say about the series is how by the end of it all, each film matters in one way or another. The entire mythology of the series is actually pretty cool when watched in chronological order. When The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift was released back in 2006, most people thought that that would be the end of the series. With the events that took place though between 4-7, I can look back at Tokyo Drift and hold it in much higher regard (we even get to see Lucas Black reprise his role as Sean Boswell in 7, which was nice). I’d recommend seeing all the movies in chronological order (even the shorts) to fully get the picture, but you certainly don’t have to see them all to enjoy Furious 7, because this one stands strong on its own.
The action never stops in Furious 7. Between cars jumping out of an airplane to cars jumping between buildings, fights-galore with Dwayne Johnson vs. Statham, Walker vs. Tony Jaa, and even more insane fights and car stunts, it’s a two-and-a-half hour thrill ride.
While the dialogue isn’t great at times, the colorful characters more than make up for that. Chris Bridges and Tyrese Gibson are yet again hilarious with one another on screen, and it’s nice to have Michelle Rodriguez rejoin the crew once again.
James Wan, most known for Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring, took over directing duties for the latest Fast outing. While he honors what Justin Lin and rest of the cast and crew have already established for the franchise in 3-6, he definitely adds his own flair. Wan is not afraid to whip the camera, especially during action scenes. When he does you feel like you’re right there, especially in the showdown between Johnson and Statham.
It’s hard to review a movie knowing that the last half of it was inspired by something tragic in real life. Going into it I, like most, was going “What if Paul Walker was still here? Would this happen, would that happen?” Then, once it started, all those thoughts flew out the window. Furious 7 in its final form, for now and forever, for better or worse, is a great movie.
Little is known about the future of the franchise, with rumors that Diesel might reteam with Russel for a three-picture deal and possibly a spinoff focusing on Johnson’s character. Either way, this is the end of the storyline that began when Brian gave Dom the keys to his 10-second car, nearly 14 years ago. The ending is a fitting, bittersweet goodbye to Walker that longtime fans will be proud of.
Furious 7 is the most explosive, emotional entry in the series. If the rumors are true, then I’ll be there in line the day number 8 comes out. If this is the end, then I would be satisfied, putting to bed one of the biggest franchises of all time.