Published Sep 18, 2015With the thriving Fast & Furious franchise showing few signs of slowing down as it continues to rake in astronomical returns at the box office, Furious 7 is sure to always be regarded as a sentimental favourite by fans for the way it tastefully paid tribute to fallen family member Paul Walker, who died in a car crash midway through filming. The story this time around may careen more and more into the realm of the ridiculousness, but then isn't that what we've come to expect and even look forward to from these movies?
The first film in the franchise to take place after the events of Tokyo Drift (which was only the third film released in the series) and with James Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious) taking over directing duties from Justin Lin, Furious 7 introduces new villain Deckard Shaw (the always welcome Jason Statham), who's dead-set on avenging the brother who was maimed at the end of Fast 6. With his crosshairs placed squarely on the family we've come to know and love, Deckard raises their ire by disposing of beloved member Han (as depicted in Tokyo Drift) and destroying leader Dom's (Vin Diesel) home with a bomb.
When covert ops agent Frank Petty, played with gusto by Kurt Russell, shows up to task Dom with retrieving an extremely effective tracking device known as God's Eye and rescuing the hacker who created it — Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) — from Deckard and his henchmen, Dom gets his family out of retirement again for one final job.
As usual, the plot is little more than a flimsy clothesline on which to hang action-packed set pieces, but this instalment delivers them in spades. The most thrilling of these is a long sequence that sees Dom's family parachuting in cars onto a highly guarded stretch of road in the mountains of Azerbaijan, though it's nearly matched later by one in Abu Dhabi that has Dom and Brian (Walker) smashing through windows while flying recklessly in their car from one high-rise to another.
If the elaborate action sequences continue enticing audiences to come back for more, it's the characters that keep them emotionally invested. Diesel, when not grumbling about family in that trademark gravelly rasp, spends the second straight film trying to connect with girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) following her bout of amnesia that's straight out of a soap opera. Tyrese and Ludacris inject comic relief while vying for the affections of Ramsey, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson makes the most of his limited screen time as the DSS agent who's managed to carve out a space in Dom's family. Oh, and everybody is inexplicably proficient in martial arts this time around.
While Walker's eventual send-off is emotionally impactful, there's still something unsettling about watching a series that continually glorifies the kind of full-throttle speed that directly led to his death without showing any of the dire consequences. Maybe it's the way Diesel and Statham play a game of chicken and ram into each other at full speed, only to immediately exit the twisted metal without a scratch on them, to then engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Though it's hardly uncommon for a DVD release to include a making-of featurettes, it's quite another story to peek behind the scenes at putting together a $190 million blockbuster like this. Where many might believe all that money would predominantly be spent on CGI effects, it's surprising instead to learn how much of the film was built on impeccably planned stunt work, including those aforementioned parachuting cars and tower jumps. There are also shorts on all of the fight scenes (including a doozy between Rodriguez and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey), a requisite survey of all the cars used in the film for gear-heads and an in-depth feature called Talking Fast in which the director and cast thoroughly dissect the entire film.