Movie Review: Fast & Furious 7

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The brother of the last movie’s villain targets the Toretto gang for revenge.

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James Wan, 2015

After visiting his comatose brother in hospital, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) leaves a violent bloody trail in his quest to discover the identity of the car gang who put him there. He hacks into Hobbs’ (Dwayne Johnson) computer and puts the man in a hospital, kills Han (Sung Kang, who actually died in the third film, but continuity, like the laws of physics and biology, has no place in these movies), then sets his sights on Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). A shady government agent (Kurt Russell) saves Toretto from being killed, then asks for his help tracking down a piece of software called the God’s Eye in exchange for information on Shaw. Meanwhile, his best friend and brother-in-law Brian (Paul Walker) is torn between protecting his wife and son, and staying in the car-stealing, dude-punching, bullet-dodging lifestyle side by side with Toretto.

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Given the numbers this movie is doing, chances are if you’re reading my review you’ve already seen it. Writing reviews seems pretty fruitless with a juggernaut like the Fast & Furious series: for the most part, you know what you’re going to get before you walk into the cinema. Muscle cars and muscle men (and Michelle Rodriguez, sometimes, when they let her) performing impossible feats fills up about 75% of this film, with the emotional arcs of the film filling up the rest. Dom and Brian are facing different journeys in this one. With Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) continued amnesia pulling her away from him, Dom throws himself into the fight against Shaw, making reckless decisions. Meanwhile, Brian has to choose between his two “families”. They make the storyline work despite the limited footage of Paul Walker, with only a few cracks; he’s shot from behind or in the background of group shots a lot, and they use his brothers as stand-ins, which is occasionally noticeable but not too distracting. It leaves Vin Diesel to do a lot of the heavy lifting emotionally, which isn’t always great given his tendency to mumble every single one of his lines, but it is what it is and it’s fine.

They continue to up the ante in wacky vehicular hijinks; this film seems particularly invested in making cars fly, which leads to a couple of set pieces. The first big action set piece, where cars are parachuted from a plane to a remote road, is epic. The second gives more respect to the death of a car than most characters in these movies. Given that they continue to shoot cars and women the same way, that’s hardly surprising; I think they see both as equal shiny toys, unless the woman can be one of the boys, like the always solid and fascinating Letty and Nathalie Emmanuel’s pretty awesome new character who I’m sure will be sidelined in the next film. Poor Elsa Pataky and Jordana Brewster drew the short straws this time. The Rock continues to be a scene stealer with a ridiculously hardcore moment in this film. Then, after a couple of hours of crashes, punches and splosions, the last five minutes of this film are among the most emotional of any you’ll see in a film this year. The genuinely moving tribute to Paul Walker, which Vin Diesel and the cast invest in whole-heartedly, almost feels lifted from another film. It’s a cathartic end to his chapter in the series.

Fast & Furious 7 on IMDb

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