Sunday, 5 April 2015

Film Review: Fast and Furious 7


"One last ride"

Director: James Wan 
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster
Runtime: 137 minutes

SPOILER ALERT! Seriously, there are lots of spoilers in this film. Y'know, the kind attached to the back of a car? 

That's it, that's the best I've got. Moving swiftly onward, here's my review of Fast and Furious 7.

"Daddy's gotta go to work"
Whilst it's had its ups (Fast Five) and its downs (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), somehow the Fast and the Furious series has endured, and even markedly improved since the acclaimed fifth entry. And now, as it cruises up to the seventh film, the series is in ruder health than ever before. Because you see, Fast and Furious 7 is the best film so far.

But first, a bit of a backgrounder. When we last saw them, our motley band of mechanics and petrol-heads led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) had successfully taken down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) at the request of Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Along the way, Dom had been reunited with his lost love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and, tragically, both Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) had met their grisly demise, the latter at the hands of Owen Shaw's vengeful brother, Deckard (Jason Statham), on the streets of Tokyo.

It's here (or, just before here) that Fast and Furious 7 kicks off. Grieving for the loss of their friends, the Toretto gang set out to bring down Deckard before he can get to them first. It's a fairly straight-forward premise to begin with - both Dominic and Deckard are out for blood and there is a nice parallel there. However, things soon get a little loopy when Kurt Russell's FBI agent, Mr. Nobody, is added to the equation.

Mr. Nobody recruits Dom and his gang to track down a hacker named 'Ramsey' and their highly-sophisticated surveillance system called 'God's Eye' in return for taking down Deckard. Seems simple enough, but it means that the middle section of the film loses sight of why they're doing what they're doing. Why do they even need the God's Eye to track down Deckard when he is constantly following them anyway? It's all a bit goofy but you learn not to care that much and just have fun with it.

Their mission sees the gang weave from Los Angeles to Tokyo, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi and back to Los Angeles. It's a fun ride that never drops into a lower gear - director James Wan (who steps into the role held by Justin Lin) keeps the pedal down from start to finish through a series of well-executed and inventive action set-pieces that defy reality. The stand-out sequence (a multi-car airdrop followed by mountainous car chase) is every bit as ludicrous and entertaining as it sounds.

"A'ight - rock, paper, scissors for her?"
The fight scenes (of which there are many) are really well choreographed and orchestrated. The use of shaky cam blights some, but for the most part, Wan has the sense to pull the camera back and let the stunt people do their thing. The kinetic car chases are what sets this series apart and Fast and Furious 7 is no different - there's a tip of the hat to their street racing roots at the start before the film unleashes every thing is has and starts hurling supercars through skyscraper windows.

It's not a film that will attract newcomers (naturally, you have to start earlier in the series) and the teenage sensibilities (boobs, boobs and more boobs) will annoy some, which I can completely understand. Is it so hard to have a great action film where cleavage shots are kept to a minimum? I wonder if they have a quota of under-skirt angles they have to fill per film? There is literally one scene where bikini-clad girls are covered in gold paint and presented as sexy, writhing statues at a party.

Also, the dialogue. I haven't got a problem with the cheesy one-liners ("The thing about street fights... the street always wins.") but Dominic's constant dumbed down philosophical musings about family make him out to be a modern day Aristotle. It's kind of funny, but you learn to take it with a pinch of salt.

The film feels a lot smaller this time around - our group of heroes is smaller and, as a result, the action is more personal. The acting isn't fantastic (Diesel continues to sound like he has irremovable peanut butter caked to the roof of his mouth) but the group of characters we've grown to know has a brilliant chemistry together. Michelle Rodriguez gets an interesting arc in this film whilst the bulk of the laughs come from Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson).

Fans of the Rock may be a little disappointed with this entry. Dwayne Johnson gets some great fight scenes, but is sidelined for most of the film. Likewise, Elsa Pataky's Elena isn't around much. Instead, the film chooses to focus on the core unit (Dom, Letty, Brian, Tej, Roman) and introduce new actors like Nathalie Emmanuel and Kurt Russell. Narratively, Fast and Furious 7 runs concurrently with Tokyo Drift, even crossing over at one point and reintroducing Lucas Black's Sean Boswell. It's this kind of attention-to-detail that diehard fans of the series will lap up - and casuals like myself will appreciate for its unexpected complexity.

As you may remember, Paul Walker (who plays series mainstay Brian) tragically passed away in 2013. Once the decision to resume production on Fast and Furious 7 had been made, the cast and crew were faced with the tricky task of finishing the film without Walker, who has been around since the very first film in 2000. Without going into detail, the film accomplishes this in a manner that is respectful and subtle. There are scenes where a stand-in is being used for Brian (two of Walker's real-life brothers took on the job) and then there are parts where his likeness has been digitally replicated.

It's a touching goodbye to Walker and the film rounds out his storyline nicely. It's hard to not get a little dewey-eyed at the end as the cast bid farewell to their friend.

The Verdict: 8/10


Fast and Furious 7 sees the series find a new gear and push higher than ever before. The action is top notch, the characters are funny and the storyline is suitably nonsensical. Just sit back, kick your feet up and enjoy the ride - because there are few action films out there today that top this.

Fast and Furious 7 is in cinemas across Australia now.

6 comments:

  1. That spoilers joke is honestly the best thing I've ever read, I'm still giggling to myself now! Great review, I can't wait to see the film for myself :)
    - Allie

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    1. Ha, thanks Allie! I'm glad someone got it ;)

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  2. I need to catch up with the 6th entree before I watch this...but I'll eventually get there. Loved the joke :-P

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    1. The sixth entry is ace as well, you're in for a fun time :) Thanks Fisti!

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  3. Glad you liked it! The Paul Walker tribute was lovely.
    And lol at the Iggy Azeala cameo.

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    Replies
    1. Loved it! The ending was really well executed, given the circumstances.

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