Furious 7 (2015) Movie Review: Franchise High Point Is Poignant Walker Tribute

Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for every mention of “family.”

Take a Drink: every time something blows up.

Take a Drink: for every wrecked car.

Do a Shot: for every bad/awesome one-liner.

Take a Drink: for every gratuitous shot of dancing women.

Pour One Out: for Paul Walker.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew tore apart half of London tracking down and defeating Fast & Furious 6’s villain Owen Shaw. Unfortunately for them, Shaw’s mom got it on more than once and his brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is out for revenge. Shaw begins his vendetta by causing the death of the Asian guy, Han (Sung Kang), from Tokyo Drift, puts ultra-muscled/baby oil aficionado Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital and tries to kill Toretto and his best bud Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) by blowing up their house. Toretto does not play that shit, so he brings the crew back together to hunt down Shaw so hard, it would make Zero Dark Thirty look like an episode of Kim Possible.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a super secret government operative, needs for hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) to be rescued from Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) so that he can control “God’s Eye,” this movie’s MacGuffin and a tracking device so powerful it could only belong in a movie series called “Fast & Furious.” In exchange for the crew recovering God’s Eye, Mr. Nobody will give them unbridled access to the device to track Shaw. LOTS of cars are destroyed.

A Toast

As always, Furious 7 establishes a great balance between familial mushiness and the most fucking insane action since Michael Bay’s first wet dream. Ever since Fast Five, the franchise has redirected its focus from street racing gangs into madcap action extravaganzas, and it continues to push the boundaries of possibility here. After what they do here, it’s difficult to imagine what’s they’re going to cook up for the next installment. Felix Felicis puts it quite well:

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She also attached 35 photos of The Rock, which I appreciated, but Henry J. Fromage has his limits.

New to the series is director James Wan, who previously made a name for himself with Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. When you’ve made a movie about a guy with terminal cancer dragging his victims through torturous plot twists and implements of pain and a movie about a demon cosplaying as Darth Maul jump-scaring a family into submission, you may not exactly be the first choice for a mega-budget action franchise about cars getting destroyed by a tight-knit multi-ethnic family.

Yet, Wan fucking nails it here, bringing a slightly different style to the series Justin Lin has commandeered since Tokyo Drift. Wan’s directing style is downright scary, with the car escapades blocked and shot with a genuine sense of danger bolstered by mostly practical effects. The car chases and hand-to-hand fight scenes feel far more desperate and brutal than they’ve ever been. That sequence with cars driving out of a plane? That wasn’t CGI.

Using logic when watching this movie borders on dangerous. While there’s nothing quite as ludicrous as Vin Diesel launching himself into the air to catch someone between two bridges, there is still plenty here to nitpick, with action movie timing and superhuman protagonists that define a Hollywood action film. But again, what makes it so damn fun is that the movie knows exactly how stupid it is, and rolls around in that stupid like a Corgi rolls around in mud after a bath.

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Damn you Loki! You’re impossible to hate.

You’ve heard about the ending tribute to the late Paul Walker, but thus far no critic (rightfully) has revealed exactly why this scene is such a sucker punch to the feels. The way Wan and his ensemble deliver a closing tribute to their fallen brother is extraordinarily well-done. The entire packed theater, including yours truly and his date, was brought, at the very least, to a sizeable lump in the throat. The movie retires the character of Brian O’Conner, but the epilogue is just as obviously a salute to Paul Walker himself. It’s heart-wrenching and could not have been executed more perfectly. It’s just another reminder that while the franchise is one about vehicular mayhem and ridiculous action, it’s just as much about family, both in and out of character.

Verdict

Of course, Furious 7 is not the best action movie ever made. And yes, there are elements of the plot that don’t quite hold up under close scrutiny.

But, holy shit is this movie awesome.  It’s as absurd, self-deprecating, and hilarious as ever. Wan’s fresh perspective on the action sets him as a thrilling new face in the genre, whether it be with the next Fast film or something else. With this seventh installment the series pushes even further into self-aware silliness, and by now we’ve reached a nearly-perfect cocktail of familial drama, comic relief, and insane action. As if that wasn’t great enough, it’s capped off by one of the most touching finales ever inserted in an action movie.

I was pumped for this movie, and not only did it deliver on every expectation on the action front, it far surpassed them with the powerful, genuinely tearjerking tribute to Mr. Paul Walker.

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