Fast7-1If you were to say to someone back in 2001 that The Fast and the Furious would become one of the more profitable franchises in the history of Universal Studios, you would likely have been laughed at. While a perfectly entertaining and successful feature, the film hardly screamed franchise potential, and by 2006 with the third movie Tokyo Drift, it looked like the street racing franchise was spluttering to a halt. But then the gang got back together. When Vin Diesel and Paul Walker led the original cast back into action in Fast & Furious, something seemed to change. The franchise began to engage in unapologetically ludicrous action, with the heist tinged Fast Five truly announcing that a franchise had been reborn. Who knew that a 2001 Rob Cohen movie would make it to number seven? And who could have bet that it’d be the best one?

Following the events of Fast 6, villainous Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) has been left crippled and in a coma, which pisses off his big bad brother, Deckard (Jason Statham). After taking out Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo, Deckard sets his sights on the other people responsible for his brother’s condition, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team, consisting of Brian (Paul Walker), Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chirs ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Mia (Jordana Brewster). In depserate need of assistance, Dom and the gang agree to assist the CIA in regaining a high-tech piece of surveillance equipment called ‘God’s Eye’. Once that is regained, Dom and his team will be able to track down Shaw and turn the hunter into the hunted. But staying ahead of a man like Deckard proves to be no easy task.Paul Walker Vin Diesel Fast and Furious 7

Furious 7 starts in glorious over the top fashion and only continues to up the ante, seemingly wanting to better itself with each set piece. Logic is not option in the world of Fast and Furious; if this still bothers you than you are not the intended audience. While previous movies in the franchise have relied on one key big action scene, Furious 7 contains about 3 to 4, and that’s not including the showdown fights between Stath & Dwayne Johnson, Walker & Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Rodriguez, and Diesel & Statham. All of these fights pack a great deal of bone-crushing choreography with seasoned action performers who know how to throw their weight in a celluloid bout. The early fight between Statham and Johnson marks the first occasion in which you have an inkling that this may be the kind of action movie you’ve been wanting from the likes of The Expendables, marking Furious 7 as a must for action fans, even if the franchise is not something that they have engaged with much before.

Taking over from Justin Lin, horror maestro James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) proves a stylish hand with action, incorporating fluid kinetic camera-work, a sharp eye for visual effects, as well as a sly wit within certain set-ups to scenes. Seeing the film in IMAX allows one to appreciate the lunacy of the stunt and effects work from free-falling cars to skyscraper hopping super motors. Those worried that Wan might not have the chops following his pedigree in horror should leave those worries in the parking lot; this is the work of a director having a great deal of fun working within the confines of someone else’s sandbox, ensuring that the Wile Coyote action stylings continue in high gear.Fast7-5

One rarely goes to this kind of movie in the hope of finding an involving plot with a great deal of depth, which makes it a bit odd when one considers how needlessly convoluted Furious 7 becomes as the gang triy to find ‘God’s Eye’. The action is distracting enough to stop you from thinking about the lapses in common sense, as the film itself seems very aware of how daft the whole thing is. What is less forgiveable is how long the film is. Clocking in at nearly 140 minutes, the film perhaps has one too many set pieces for its own good, so it helps that the bat-shit insane designs behind each one allow for enough for the abundance of action on screen to be wildly entertaining.

Perhaps the greatest success of this film is that it manages to remain very upbeat for most of the runtime despite the shadow cast by Walker’s passing. For the majority of the runtime, all involved manage to keep things running as though it is business as usual. There is the odd occasion where you suspect you’re seeing a double in Walker’s place, but otherwise his presence is seamless. It is only in the final moments that the film breaks away from its own reality to say goodbye to one of the original cast-mates, and a friend to all involved. Furious7

Family is an important theme to this franchise. However, in the past, whenever Diesel’s gravelly voice states he doesn’t have friends, he has family, I have considered the notion cheesy, and rather lacking in conviction. But, hell, does it mean something now. Walker’s passing has allowed for the film to have a super charged level of emotion, to strike a note that the franchise has struggled to do before. It is hard to not get caught up in the very direct farewell that occupies the final moments. The film does award itself these moments of tribute, due to the fact that it remembers that the top priority is to entertain. Yet this time, it is clear that there is a great deal more conviction, more drive, and more care, delivering the best action that this series has so far provided. For cinema of this kind, it really is something of a triumph.

4/5- Furious 7 is once again an exercise in unreserved silliness, but never has it been this insane, this much fun, or this emotionally satisfying.