I've reviewed seven of these films! Seven! The whole box set is done! You know what these movies have! They have plenty of guns. They have plenty of cars. They have plenty of butts. They also have an occasional curse word. But you know what they really have in spades? Heart. No wait, they don't have heart. They just have lots of butts. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: James Wan
Wait! James Wan directed this one? He directs lots of horror movies! I had no idea. I thought it was the other guy! You know, Justin Lin! He directed a whole bunch of these. When he took over the franchise, they got pretty good. In fact, they all kind of got better. Like, Part 5 is better than Part 6, but the overall trend was going upwards. When this was the best in the franchise, I thought it had to be the same guy just honing his craft until he got it absolutely right. But James Wan crushed it. I shouldn't be surprised. I overall like his horror movies. He's the guy who directed the only good Saw movie. Which one was that? Saw. The guy has talent, even though I may not be his target market. Regardless, this is my favorite of the Fast and the Furious movies. Does that make it good? Heck, no. But I would totally watch this movie again because it is a good time despite the oodles of butts.
In some ways, Furious 7 is a complete paradox for me. It does everything that I really hate in the franchise and ramps them up to eleven. I often complained about how death really doesn't matter in these movies (unless you die in real life and now there's this awkward thing between us. I'm sorry for ragging on you so hard, Paul Walker. I still will probably critique your performance in this movie). I'M GONNA GET SPOILERY, so you have been warned. I can't stand when characters can arbitrarily survive things that are borderline unsurvivable. It makes death mean absolutely nothing. If the only thing that actually kills a character is the greater need of the narrative, there is a fundamental problem with the movie. Dom, who clearly should have died multiple times in this franchise, should be a splat on the side of a mountain in this movie. When he is surrounded by a bunch of guards pointing guns at him, he drives his car off a mountain. Not only does he survive and his passenger survive, both walk out of the car without a scratch on them. Where is the tension when something like that happens? Similarly, the Rock...he just survives stuff. He is fighting Jason Statham (I'm going to be writing that name a lot in this review) on the fourth floor of a government agency. They throw each other through convenient glass walls over and over again. Eventually, Jason Statham (told you) tosses a hockey puck that acts as sci-fi C4. The Rock, seeing his partner in trouble, grabs her and acts like a human shield to save her. They are launched out of the fourth floor of this building as the entire floor explodes like the Nakatomi Building and The Rock cushions their fall as they land on a car. He groans, indicating that he survived and is conscious. The only damage that he gets is that he has a broken collarbone which sidelines him for the bulk of the movie. I'm not sure if the Rock only had a limited shooting schedule for this one, but that's how that all played out. These are the two most egregious scenes, but there are so many moments like this in Furious 7. But at the end of the day, I think I've learned not to care as much. The movie is just so big that these moments were offered up to the reality gods in exchange for coolness. I hate that I'm writing this now because I hate when people only like movies because they are so cool. But Furious 7 is the cool kid in school and I can't help but somehow be enchanted by this film.
The tone of the movie can be summed up in the opening sequence of the movie. The movie starts with Jason Statham (a good choice) talking to the unconscious Luke Evans, who was the bad guy of the last movie. Apparently, they are brothers. Good for Luke Evans showing up with makeup all over his face, but I digress. Jason Statham (trademark pending) is giving the sappiest speech about protecting his brother and just info-dumping all over a sanitary bed. (They have bedpans for that, Jason Statham, Actor Extraordinaire!) Then the camera pans back and we get this amazing tracking shot of what Jason Statham, the Jason Statham of Comedy, has done to this hospital. He has killed everyone in the hospital, brutally. He left a wave of destruction in his wake and that is so darned cool. He establishes how much of a threat he is by just murdering everyone. That is this movie. Sure, Jason Statham ("came in like a wrecking ball") probably killed the doctors who were treating his brother. Sure, those nurses were probably vital to Luke Evans's survival. Doesn't matter. Like Furious 7 itself, it requires you to shut off every element of reality and to just accept that this movie is more about being cool than every making a lick of sense. I mean, it has Kurt Russell. Kurt Russell is building a nice ironic career for himself right now. He's entered the world of Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum to where people are just excited to see Kurt Russell on screen again and having a good time. I think it started in Death Proof, but it really works for him. He's doing the same thing that he will eventually do in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, but on a smaller scale. But again, this movie is about being cool. I suppose that explains what Ronda Rousey was doing in this movie. Let's establish: Ronda Rousey is a really bad actor. Like, she's almost worse than Paul Walker is in this movie. (Again, to the family of Paul Walker, I cannot apologize enough. He seems like a real nice guy. He didn't act very well in these movies and I'm an insensitive and terrible individual.) She has this fight sequence with Michelle Rodriguez that is absolutely insane. The weird thing is that there is no doubt in my mind that Letty should be able to fight like that. There's not a ton of precedence to say that she could do that, but my brain has been trained to just accept that Letty can do stuff like that. But these guys were car thieves.
There's actually a part where Dom puts down a shotgun and tries to fight a trained MI-6 operative with giant wrenches like he was wielding twin swords. He does pretty good. There is no way that this guy should be an expert swordfighter with one sword, let alone two. But you know what, that's Furious 7. I don't care. That's what this movie is so good at, making me not care. Why don't they just shoot the bad guy in the head? There's actually a point where an entire strike team just watches Jason Statham, confident bad guy, just eating a meal. Of course, this was all a stall tactic, but they just wanted to watch him eat. One of the members of the team was also holding the very piece of tech that Jason Statham Master Planner and Djimon Hounsou Second Fiddle wanted. This is the movie. You really need to get comfortable with the movie being really dumb. They drop a parking garage on Jason Statham Super Villain and he surives. (You know, I'm good with that. That part I can wrap my head around. It's probably why the structure fell apart.) But that's something I have to come to grips with. I don't normally approve of this. I wonder if I could just recommend part 7 to people. I don't know. This movie might be even dumber than I'm making it out to be right now, but I've been beaten down by six other films that have set me up for this one. My expectations have been continually lowered time and again. It might be the thing that makes this movie so darned entertaining. I'm serious. I could sit down and watch this movie again. I never watch movies again. I'm not saying I even liked the movie, but it was super fun. There is a war inside of me between the snob who only finds artistic value in movies, (At the time of this review, there is an image of Toshiro Mifune to the left) and the guy who likes 'splodey things. It's weird. I'm completely a fan of stupidness when it is done with a sense of irony. Like I mentioned, I love Death Proof. I also like Shoot 'Em Up and a couple of others. But these are movies who are intentionally making self-aware action films. But this movie is a corporate nightmare that I have fully embraced. Golly, I want to beat me up right now for being such a snob, but I also know that this movie lacks all the heart I normally need a movie to have, but I still liked it.
The elephant in the room the entire time I watched this one was about Paul Walker. I thought for sure that they were going to kill off his character. For those who didn't know, Paul Walker died during the filming of this movie. I knew that the movie had to make some kind of thing in it. After all, Brian O'Connor is the central character in all but Part 3. But he survives. He completely survives the movie. So there is this epilogue that was clearly put together after the film was over. They all say goodbye to Brian as if the character wasn't going to be involved. The filmmakers gave Brian another kid to imply that one kid didn't really deserve his attention as a father, but two kids would make adventuring plum irresponsible. I don't get the logic, but I kind of respect that they didn't try to force a death in the plot just to satisfy audiences who wanted a tearful goodbye. Henson was moved by the tribute that they paid Paul Walker in the end. It kind of felt like a YouTube tribute and I'm just a bad person. These things are intimately related. I'm heartbroken about Walker's death, but I suppose that there was no good way to handle this. Regardless, I'm glad that they did something about it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.