Fast and Furious 7 to put it simply is the maddest and most emotional film in the history of the franchise.
“Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me, but you’re about to.” – Deckard Shaw
Taking place after the events of Fast and Furious 6, with Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) comatose in hospital, his big bad brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge against the people who put him there – Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew.
It felt inevitable that the latest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise would cross the billion mark worldwide. With the untimely death of Paul Walker, there was a weight and expectation and I’m happy to say that the film delivered where it mattered.
Fast and Furious 7 is what you’ve come to expect with the franchise, whether you’re a fan of the films or not and there’s no shame in that. It’s like watching Top Gear on steroids, injecting a sense of ridiculous escapism that is both entertaining, glamorous and hilarious. It is what it is and if you’ve come this far you would have accepted all its quirks and clichés. Frankly it has come a long way from its street racing days in the first film with its CSI camera zooms into the engine. The last two films in particular (including this one) have adopted a heist mentality that is reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven and ups the ante with each installment.
Luckily the trailers didn’t spoil much of the action sequences but they did hold back on some surprises which was a relief because some of the stunts were breathtaking. No matter how ridiculous it was or whether it was feasible in real life, dropping cars out of the sky to attack an armoured vehicle or the exploits in Abu Dhabi where Dominic drives a Hypersport car through two buildings, I enjoyed it.
“The thing about street fights… the street always wins.” – Dominic Toretto
Fast and Furious 7 also represented a franchise returning to its roots and this allowed for more cameos, surprises and acknowledgements. One of those key aspects of this inner reflection is the relationship between Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Letty still plagued by her amnesia, Dom tries to get her to remember the good things and what they were before.
It’s hard not to argue that there is a cloud of death surrounding this film and it comes in two forms.
Dom and his need to protect his family after attempts on their lives goes on a one-man mission to take out Deckard Shaw. His confrontation with Deckard was almost primal and gladiatorial, purposely fighting for the things that mattered most. The irony of it was they were fighting over the same principle – family. Personally I wished they delved more into that but more on that later.
The second one is like an elephant in the room, something that you can’t ignore. The death of Paul Walker obviously hit this film hard and you can tell. Watching the film was like playing spot the difference between real and computer generated Walker (with the help of his brothers). His usual conversations and banter with Dom were not frequent like in the previous films. At times his screen presence was limited as other members of the crew got a larger focus and say.
But in reality, it doesn’t matter. What the fast family crew did was honour their friend and the ending was the best tribute they could give. Whist there is that aura of “no more funerals” vibe, Fast and Furious 7 breaks the fourth wall and becomes a celebration to one of the key members who was part of the success. Vin Diesel’s voice-over at the end was more of a personal eulogy than some line drawn up for his character.
I would not blame you if you cried or had a sudden lump in your throat.
“Daddy’s gotta go to work.” – Hobbs
Having said that, it does make you wonder what this film would have been like if Paul Walker was alive.
The plot in comparison to the previous films was a bit jarring, jumping from one patchwork narrative to another and the reason for that is clearly obvious.
For a character in Deckard Shaw who was built up so heavily in the trailers and promotions, he was pretty much absent majority of the time. When he does show up, he lives up to his character trait – he’s a ghost, to the point where you wonder how and when did he conveniently turn up in particular scenarios. His business relationship with a dictator called Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) is never really explained or explored. Therefore the revenge aspect never really hits full stride and his appearance becomes more of a taunt.
It’s a bit of a shame as that aspect unfortunately gets massively sidetracked with a power battle to retrieve a hacker called Ramsey (Game of Thrones star, Nathalie Emmanuel) who is responsible for creating a piece of software called God’s Eye. Under orders from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), Dom and his crew are recruited to retrieve her and keeping the software out of the wrong hands.
There’s also a lack of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) who I’ve felt made a key contribution and difference to Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6. However when he did turned up, such as doing a ‘Rock Bottom’ to Statham’s Deckard, I could not stop laughing.
Towards the end with the epic showdown, as much as I’ve accepted the ridiculousness, at times it did appear a little cartoonish and unrealistic. If a city was being destroyed by a dictator, including destroying a car park, you would think national security would be all over that?
“Thought you could leave without saying goodbye?” – Brian
Whilst Fast and Furious 7 does what it exactly needs to do, I still can’t help but think Fast Five was their best one. I think it had the right balance of action, suspense, reunion and comedy.
However despite the faults, Fast and Furious 7 is every bit as entertaining as its predecessors with an emotional weight that holds the film together for all the right reasons.