Fast & Furious 7 Review
Fast & Furious 7 or: 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fender Benders' sees our heroes on the run from Deckard Shaw, big bad brother of Furious 6’s Owen when he comes seeking revenge. With the help of a shady, sharply-suited secret serviceman (Kurt Russell), the team embark on a mission from the deserts of Abu Dhabi to the well-trod streets of L.A. to stop Deckard, an array of new souped-up machines in tow.
Everyone’s back for “one last ride”, including old hands Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (the late Paul Walker) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), as well as series regulars (Tyrese Gibson and Dwayne Johnson) and newcomers, primarily in the form of Jason Statham. The Stath – playing the aforementioned boisterous baddie – is surprisingly given very little dialogue, and lets his fists do the talking. With all the ridiculous stunts we’re about to dive into, the Stath provides the least believable in the opening minutes when he takes on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in hand-to-hand combat…and wins!
The Paul Walker issue was always going to be a difficult hurdle: the entire film was placed on hold after his passing, and there were doubts that the project could even be completed without him. Director James Wan and his crew have tastefully opted for stand-in performances from Paul’s brothers and allowed prestigious effects company Weta Digital to fill in the blanks. The film is also topped off with a tribute to Walker that’ll have you reaching for the tissues in the glove compartment.
The digital work isn’t perfect, but you won’t have time to look for glitches when everything going on around Walker and our cast of characters threatens to sweep them away in a tidal wave of pure thrills. Whatever you’ve heard from other reviews or spotted in the massive advertising campaign, there’s nothing to prepare you for just how mad the action sequences are. It’s almost as if Universal – deprived of their own superhero franchise – has decided to pass on the indestructability of Marvel’s Avengers to everyone’s favourite speed-freaks, and the film is all the better for it. With all the contemporary action schlock that takes itself far too seriously, Fast & Furious is the one reliable series to take on excitement and suspense with a grin rather than a grimace: the camerawork is frenetic, the car chases are genuinely edge-of-your-seat exciting and the mixture of practical and CGI effects gives every bone-crunching crash real heft.
In amongst the explosions, wreckage and storms of superheated lead spraying from every direction, you have the cast of characters. Sure, none of them are going to win any Oscars anytime soon, but they take what the script gives them and have as much fun as possible. Occasional obnoxious ogling aside (here’s one franchise that never quite got over a fascination with people’s bottoms), the surprisingly diverse cast and share of ass-kicking female characters provides a lot more equality than mainstream blockbusters usually dare to exhibit. When all the characters are given run-of-the-mill dialogue (injected once in a while with a punchy one-liner), everyone’s equal!
If you’re a sucker for cinematic realism, either leave your snobbery at the door or go home. Yes, Fast & Furious 7 is ludicrous beyond measure and overblown out of all proportion, but that’s the point. After all, where else are you going to see Jason Statham and Vin Diesel beat each other up with massive hammers whilst the scenery crumbles around them?