Cinematic Releases: Furious 7

Furious 7 slams into cineplexes this weekend as the best of the series. 

"Guns. Cars. Action."
Paul Walker's legacy can rest easy knowing that Furious 7 is the biggest, most awesomely bombastic entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise. From end to end this movie is a hyper visualization of the sleekest caliber. From sweeping landscapes to mind numbing explosions to the best hand to hand combat in this entire saga, Furious 7 is a cinematic delight that delivers on every front. As a boundless piece of escapist fun, not a second goes by that's without some amount of adrenaline pumping, fist bumping, gun toting fun of the highest order. This is how action should be done. And Wan knows exactly how to bring the thunder. 

Furious 7 is the latest chapter in the saga of street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and ex-FBI agent Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker), who now lead their crew--sorry, family--of fellow badasses on increasingly ridiculous capers around the world.  This time their foil is Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, who somehow took 7 movies to show up in one of these), brother of the previous film's villain, out for the usual revenge.  What follows is ridiculous set piece after ridiculous set piece leading up to the exploding fireball of sweat and gasoline that is the film's climax.  We won't get into any details about any of the action in the film other than to leave any sense of skepticism and reality at the box office and just go in and have a good time.

With a cast that plays off each other with perfect chemistry, there is nothing to not like about Furious 7. Each member of this crew are once again on point with perfected line delivery, natural camaraderie, and the perception that they are a tight knit team that can read each other like a crumpled up back issue of Car and Driver. This will be missed with the sad passing of Paul Walker, but the rest of the "family" will carry that burden with a wink, a smile, and 8 cylinders of over the top goodness while never forgetting their long lost counterpart. 

"Everybody stand back while I
kick the crap out of this tree."
Anyone who goes into Furious 7 knows precisely what to expect.  And they'll get that, and more of it than ever before.  But they'll also see the overwhelming message of the bond of family presented in an entirely different and more resonant way.  Furious 7 could be one of the most exciting, dangerous, and out-of-it's-mind insane movies in the series, and that would be saying something.  But it's also the most satisfying on levels that the series has hopefully only begun to explore. The film features tank like cars, stealth helicopters, armored buses, and more vehicular destruction than ever before.

Still, one can't help but notice a specter hanging over this film.  Paul Walker's fate in real life is no spoiler, and it hangs heavy over every scene and monologue.  A feeling of mortality never before present in these films is all but unavoidable here.  It's as if it took them seven movies to really realize that what they're doing could kill them.  But this weight only adds to the film's final scenes, which I will say nothing about other than "bravo". And to add, the digital work that they did to recreate Walker is astounding on numerous fronts. It's noticeable in several areas and the replacement work using his brothers as stand ins is not always seamless. However, his untimely demise also helped push the boundaries of this technology.

"I will NOT stop crying
until you tell me I'm the best
looking woman in this ENTIRE franchise."
Somehow, a cheesy, formulaic movie about guys who race fast cars became the monstrosity of testosterone and explosions that the world needed while never falling into the trappings of typical sequel-itis. We, the movie going public get to reap even more rewards with each passing entry. As a testament to Paul Walker and this crew of race car action junkies, we can testify that this series has only increased in quality with time. 

From small beginnings to the humongous scope of the last three entries, this franchise will suffer from Walker's absence, but will continue to grow in the hands of the more than capable action master, James Wan. Furious 7 is more than a nearly perfect action epic. It's glorious, racing striped proof that not all sequels suffer the same sad death. 

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-Mike Stec