Saturday 12 September 2015

Fast and Furious 7: Mini Review...

What's it about?
The heavy-footed family are called back into action when Deckard Shaw - brother of #6's villain Owen Shaw - gets hungry for a spot of revenge (thus tying us in with Tokyo Drift at long last). Throw in an impressive macguffin called "God's Eye", cue a series of set pieces that boast an escalating amount of vehicular insanity, and Vin Diesel grumbling the word "family" at every given opportunity.
Who would I recognise in it?
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Staham, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Ludacris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Lucas Black, Elsa Pataky.
Fast 7 will forever be overshadowed by the sudden death of Paul Walker - mid-shoot - in a car crash, and it's hard to view the film without that thought - and of CGI-infused body double fixes - lurking in the back of your mind. Even more-so considering the film's continued (and franchise-spanning) emphasis on the importance of family, one of the elements that has helped turn this franchise into a box office juggernaut...

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Action wise, and considering the extreme lengths they went to in the fifth and sixth films, it's hard for #7 to 'out-crazy' its predecessors. Arguably it just about tops what came before - what with cars parachuting out of a plane, and driving a super car between three skyscrapers - but this time around the story assumes a much larger role in proceedings. With such a large cast - expanding with every entry - it's inevitable that some characters get sidelined - Mia for example, Hounsou's "Jakande" for another (a grimacing, arse-kicking Statham is the big bad of this flick), and there's a San Andreas-shaped hole when it comes to Hobbs (his Act II absence is made up for with a game turn from the ever-brilliant Kurt Russell).

Director James Wan - taking over from four-time-Furious-director Justin Lin - handles the ball well, particularly under such tragic circumstances, maintaining franchise consistency while injecting a few of his own snazzy tricks. Indeed, what's most surprising about Fast 7 is how it addresses that tragedy in a way that feels deliberately infused throughout the film. A closing coda packs a considerable emotional punch, and it's all the better for not feeling too maudlin. Simultaneously addressing Paul Walker and his on-screen alter-ego "Brian", it works as a fitting send-off that will get even the most macho of audience members a bit misty-eyed.

Delivering more of what you want, from full-on petrol-headed chaos to the downright bizarre (GPS-enabled parachutes, Dom acting as a human car jack!), with plenty of love, drama, callbacks, and banter thrown in-between, Fast and Furious 7 could, in many ways, be a satisfying close to the entire franchise. It isn't, of course, because naturally an eighth movie was already envisioned from the get-go - it won't be a task I'd envy, having to come up with a Brian-free Fast 8 - but if they keep making the movies this gleefully enjoyable and heart-felt, then I'll keep watching them. Good.

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