The Hippo


Mar 17, 2018








Furious 7

Furious 7 (PG-13)
Film reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

Furious 7 (PG-13)

The late Paul Walker takes his final ride in the series he helped to build in Furious 7, the seventh movie in the Fast & Furious franchise.
Though, and here’s where Fast & Furious starts to require way more thought than it’s worth, the events of this movie actually happen immediately after the third movie, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, and the last three movies (Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6) all took place, in terms of this universe’s chronology, between 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift. This explains why Han (Sung Kang) has been around in the last few movies despite dying in the third. Not that any of this really matters in terms of your understanding or enjoyment of this particular movie. Nor is it all that important to understand who Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), one of this movie’s two Big Bads, is avenging but, in case you’re curious, he’s brother to Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a villain dispatched in 6 (that part I had to look up — thank you, Wikipedia — because who the heck bothers to remember this franchise’s villains?).
Generally speaking, the key fact to know about Deckard is that he wants to hunt down Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) and the remaining members of his crew — Dom’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Brian (Paul Walker), Brian’s wife and Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), law enforcement person Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his sidekick Elena (Elsa Pataky). After Han’s death, Hobbs is the next person injured, making it all the more urgent for Dom to hunt down Deckard. Though Dom’s plan just seems to be to find Deckard and ram their respective cars into each other, he gets help with a slightly more sophisticated hunt from a secretive government person (Kurt Russell), who is, let’s say, a CIA agent or something. Agent Kurt Russell makes a deal with Dom & Co.: help the U.S. government rescue a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and her spy tech from a terrorist named Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) and the U.S. government will help Team Dom take out Deckard. 
A note: I had to Wikipedia that deal because I couldn’t for the life of me remember why Dom and the gang had been dragged into the whole Jakande/Ramsey storyline. The nonsensical “deal” actually doesn’t really explain it either. I suspect the reasons are: (a) Ramsey is a hot female hacker and the franchise needed one of those; (b) Hounsou is good at being an intimidating-looking villain and Statham just isn’t enough to fill all of the movie’s bad guy needs, and (c) Russell was keen to jump on the old-dude-action-movie bandwagon and this was the way to work him in. Also, two of the movie’s main set-piece action sequences — one in the Caucasus Mountains, the other in luxury hotels and high-rises surrounded by the bright orange desert of Abu Dhabi — take place in service of the Jakande/Ramsey plot and they just wouldn’t have looked as cool transported to the streets of L.A.
Through all of this hunting and being hunted, Brian is having a bit of an early-mid-life crisis. Life as a suburban dad is not quite exciting enough for him but Mia worries that going back to the life of fast-and-furious-ness is no good for them and their future, particularly with a second baby on the way. I’m not sure how this originally was supposed to play out or whether Brian’s ambivalence about living a straight life was even part of the story before Walker’s real-life death. But it becomes clear pretty quickly that Brian’s family situation is the franchise’s way to give the character an honorable exit.
Not sure if this is your kind of movie? I think we can solve that with the answer to just one question: how much do you care about physics? For example, if a car drove out of the all-glass side of one skyscraper and into another skyscraper and then into a third skyscraper, many tens of stories above the ground, and everybody in the car lives and is able to jump out, unharmed, before the car left the third skyscraper to plummet to its demise, would any part of that bother you? Did you just think “ha, cool” or did you start to list all the ways what I just described was highly unlikely? “Ha, cool”: this movie is for you. Anything else and two hours and 17 minutes of this sort of thing, interspersed with some not-so-fabulous writing and even iffier acting, is probably too much for you.
As it happens, I did actually giggle a bit as the shiny sports car jumped from one tower to the next. I also laughed at a cars-parachuting-out-of-planes sequence. And I can be very forgiving of deeply silly writing if it sets up a fight (ever so slightly goofy) between, say, Jason Statham and Vin Diesel or Michelle Rodriguez and Ronda Rousey (an MMA fighter). In fact, in both cases, the fights were particularly welcome because the “acting” that preceded them caused me to do the kind of clenched-teeth cringe I do when I hear, like, the high-pitched scrape of metal on metal. 
I also cringed a bit in the movie’s final moments, where Paul Walker’s Brian is shown finding contentment as a family man and we are left, with no explanatory dialogue from him, to conclude that he is done being fast and furious. The final shot of his face, saying good-bye to Dom, is the closest this movie gets to those Livia Soprano scenes created after the death of actress Nancy Marchand. But, considering, the movie and its special effects and stand-ins (including, as has been widely reported, Walker’s brothers) do as well as can be expected making up for the death of one of its main actors before his scenes were finished. 
Even by Fast & Furious standards Furious 7 is not a perfect movie but it is fun enough, crashy-and-race-y enough and, ultimately, sweet enough in its send-off of Walker to satisfy even the casual franchise fan. B-
Rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem and suggestive content and brief strong language. Directed by James Wan and written by Chris Morgan (from characters by Gary Scott Thompson), Furious 7 is two hours and 17 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.  
As seen in the April 9, 2015 issue of the Hippo.


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