“Ohana’ means family. Family means no one gets left behind. But if you want to leave, you can. I’ll remember you though.”
-Lilo (Lilo & Stitch)
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest Fast and Furious fan. The first film was fun because it felt like a Point Break for my generation. It was about fast cars, pretty women, and starred Vin Diesel. Films two through four felt like blatant cash grabs and were little more than TNT Saturday afternoon television. But starting with Fast Five, something happened to a franchise that plays fast and loose with physics and natural law… it became good. The franchise embraced the rather silly aspects of its premise and turned Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner into super-heros.
Furious 7 starts not far from where the last film left off. Dom is trying to spark Letty’s memory of their past love, and Brian is living the mundane life of a father with Mia and his son Jack. After an attack on Hobbs and Dom, the crew is brought back together to chase down assassin Deckard Shaw, who is played by Jason Statham (of course). Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson rejoin the crew to take down Deckard so they can live in peace. Kurt Russell and Nathalie Emmanuel are newcomers to the franchise.
Furious 7 is a very adequate ending (hopefully) to the larger than life franchise. James Wan’s visual style and ability to shoot action raises Furious 7 higher than any of it predecessors. There are three main action set pieces, and each one builds on the other. The middle set piece is extremely enjoyable, and the inventive way that Wan weaves a car into the action is arguably one of the most brilliant things you’ll see all year.
Let’s not pretend Furious 7 is anything more than a popcorn flick, but the acting and plot are surprisingly bad. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are more than serviceable actors, but neither performance is very good. I do realize that the trickery of placing Paul Walker’s face on his brother’s body may be to blame for this, but Diesel’s performance feels like he is back in Find Me Guilty. He seems so serious and honestly a little grief-stricken. The digital Paul Walker isn’t annoying and doesn’t really take you out of the movie, but you can definitely tell it’s not him. As far as acting goes, Tyrese is the only real shining star. His rapport with Ludacris is obvious, and they are having fun. I won’t say much more about the plot other than it has more holes than a golf course.
Furious 7 is a lot of fun and has some of the most satisfying action in recent memory. The fast cars, pretty women, tough guys, and amazing set pieces are what make it stand out from a normal mindless action film. The steady dose of humor provided by Tyrese and Ludacris make the film feel light, and James Wan’s style is worth the price of admission. Furious 7 isn’t more than that, but it doesn’t have to be. A lot has been made of the ending and for good reason. Vin Diesel’s final monologue is a fitting goodbye to Paul Walker. “You’ll always be with me. And you’ll always be my brother.”