Furious 7 (PG-13) ★★★½

Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Chris Bridges ‘Ludacris’ star in "Furious 7." Photo credit: Universal Pictures
Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Chris Bridges ‘Ludacris’ star in “Furious 7.” Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Lucky Number 7, Enjoy the Ride

Buckle your seatbelts; Furious 7’s insanely supersized and supercharged theme takes action films to a new level. From cars ejecting from planes to cars leaping between skyscrapers, the film does not push the breaks when it comes to outlandish scenarios.

Like a well-oiled engine, the Fast fam is back at it again almost two years later with what is believed to be the last film of the franchise. If anything, Vin Diesel is more muscular as Alpha, Dominic Toretto than in Fast & Furious 6. His no holds barred attitude continues to rub off on his infamous crew including Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, Brick Mansions, 2014) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Fast & Furious 6, 2013). James Wan (The Conjuring, 2013) directs this chapter of the series, which may end up being it’s most successful. Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson and Elsa Pataky are also welcomed back. Adding some new faces to the mix are action stars Jason Statham (Wild Card, 2015), Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3, 2014) and Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014).

While Furious 7 will offer what audiences expect, extreme thrills, gravity defying action sequences, and a cliché script at full throttle speed, they will be pleased to know that it’s all of the above on a ridiculous, new level. While it’s clear that half of the stunts in the film are near impossible, audiences will have to suspend disbelief or they’ll just not be along for the ride. This franchise has allowed Fast fans to truly escape all realities and imagine anything is possible, even if it’s flying cars.

The action-thriller resumes a year after Dom’s and Brian’s crew returned to the U.S. with their pardons. Audiences witness their struggle with the transition into a more ‘normal’ lifestyle. Brian is visibly out of his comfort zone trying to acclimate to suburban life with Mia (Brewster) and their son while Dom tries to reconnect with Letty (Rodriguez) who lost her memory after an accident. It’s no surprise that Tej (Bridges) and Roman (Gibson) still go about their bachelor ways and continue to argue over women they want to impress.

Meanwhile, In an effort to get revenge for the death of his younger brother (in Fast & Furious 6), British black ops assassin Deckard Shaw (Statham) embarks on a terror streak of the trusty group beginning with the murder of Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo and the attempted assassination of Hobbs in L.A. He then detonates the Toretto house, the crew’s refuge. Now Dom must rely on high-level government aid, a one-of-a-kind tracking device and his team to hunt down Shaw to end things for good.

While there are many significant action-packed scenes, from high-speed chases in L.A. to a car flying through three skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, the ‘snatch-and-grab’ sequence in Azerbaijan is noteworthy. The shooting took place in 2013 over the Arizona desert and on the steep peaks of Colorado where the team launched themselves (‘while in their cars’) out of a cargo plane and then parachuted into treacherous mountain ranges below to try and catch Shaw and his team off guard. According to the press notes, over a few days in Arizona, the crew used a C-130 aircraft, camera-mounted helicopters and skydiving camera operators to produce a military air-style drop of the driverless cars. The drops were from altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 feet to capture unique images for the sequence.

As if Furious 7 wasn’t going to garner enough attention on it’s own, an unfortunate accident will likely drive an even larger audience. While the film’s production was underway in November 2013, Walker died in a tragic car accident (off set). The crew took time off to mourn Walker’s passing, and it was rumored that the movie would never be completed.  Out of respect for someone they considered family, the crew felt that he would have wanted them to finish it. Most of the movie was shot with Walker, but producers were challenged with how they were going to complete it. Luckily, unused footage from previous movies, new technology and the assistance of Paul Walker’s two brothers as stand-ins, allowed for his final on-screen appearance to become a reality. Producer Neal Moritz, who was with Walker from the beginning of his career, said, “This movie is a testament to his legacy.”

SPOILER ALERT: Beyond the cheesiness that comes with the Fast series, if anything, this film is worth seeing for the ending as there is an incredibly touching tribute to Walker, complete with memorable flashbacks. Pay close attention to symbolisms in the last few moments of the film.

Bottom-Line? The beloved action-thriller series has strapped in its Fast fans over the last several years, and they clearly aren’t going anywhere when it comes to Furious 7. Between the extremely corny dialogue, near impossible stunt scenes and muscles bulging from Abu Dhabi to Toyko, this insanely crafted film breaks all the rules, but audiences are too far in the series to care. If Furious 7 is, in fact, the last film of the series, it certainly went out with a bang. Enjoy the ride.

Cast: Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Paul Walker (Brian O’Connor), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty), Jordana Brewster (Mia), Tyrese Gibson (Roman), Chris Bridges ‘Ludacris’ (Tej), Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Natalie Emmanuel (Ramsey), Elsa Pataky (Elena)

Credits: Directed by James Wan; Written by Chris Morgan

Studio: Universal Pictures

Run Time: 137 minutes

Jessica Aymond © April 1, 2015