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Review: ‘Furious 7’ gives fans everything they want and then some (Includes first-hand account)

When the first film premiered in 2001, there was a lot of uncertainty whether The Fast and the Furious would launch a successful franchise — a theory the second film did not do much to refute as it focused on only one-half of the dynamic duo that propelled the original. Though none of the early characters appear in the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift breathed new life into the franchise. The fourth film’s reunion unleashed a can of NOS and it hasn’t slowed down since. In Furious 7, the story is looping in on itself and doing everything required of a successful series.

Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordanna Brewster) have settled into domestic bliss, though he still longs for the thrilling days of old. Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are glad to be together again, but she still struggles with her memory loss. However all sense of content is shattered when Owen Shaw’s brother, Deckard (Jason Statham), decides to avenge his brother’s near death. Beginning with Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo, he begins to track down the members of the team who hospitalized his brother. With Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) out of commission, the team pairs with a ghost operative (Kurt Russell) to retrieve a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) and her one-of-a-kind surveillance tech from an arms dealer (Djimon Hounsou), which will allow them to go on the offense.

Going further than any other film in the franchise, the characters in this picture change cars almost as often as their wardrobes. Two-hundred-and-thirty of the 340 cars used in the film were damaged to some extent, owing in large part to the majority of the action sequences being created practically with only 10 per cent of the stunts relying on CGI. This means they really did drop those five cars from a Hercules plane. This picture also has the most expensive car ever featured in the series: the Lykan HyperSport. There are only seven of the Middle Eastern supercars in existence and each is valued at approximately $3.4 million — it’s the gorgeous machine seen flying between buildings. Other cars include variations of Dom’s Dodge Charger, a Dodge Challenger R/T, Plymouth ‘Cuda, Aston Martin DB9 and Bugatti Veyron.

These movies have never been known for strong storylines and this one is no different. The revenge plot is simple and allows everyone involved to do what they do best. This story actually takes place right after Tokyo Drift, placing the events of that film between the sixth installment and this one. Horror director James Wan shows he can adapt his attention to detail to a different type of adrenaline-inducing fair, continuing the tradition of high-intensity action. Fans laugh out loud at the sometimes cheesy lines, but it’s all intentional as filmmakers gear every aspect to their targeted audience. When the team pulls off an insanely difficult trick, applause rings through the theatre. The final act is slightly inflated, involving helicopters, street chases, a drone and multiple explosions, but it still fits in with the overall tone.

A scene from  Furious 7

A scene from ‘Furious 7’
Universal Pictures

There are some epic fight sequences in this picture. Johnson and Statham throw down in the first 15 minutes of the film, which sets a precedent of intensity going forward. UFC fighter Ronda Rousey plays a bodyguard who exchanges punches with Rodriguez in what is an all-out brawl, no hair-pulling required. The addition of Tony Jaa also steps up the level of physicality in the film as he contributes his fast-paced, high-flying style to several sections, throwing in some parkour for good measure.

All of the actors mentioned, as well as Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Lucas Black, play their characters flawlessly. Most are reprising roles they clearly enjoy and their dedication to the franchise is visible. It’s been suggested Russell will return for the eighth movie and based on his involvement in this picture it would be welcomed. Mr. Nobody is a fantastic personality to which the actor lends his signature charm, reminiscent of some of his earlier, iconic parts. He fits in well to the franchise and many will look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Conversely, there is one person who will tragically not be returning. Walker was killed in a car accident before the film was completed. His brothers, who all bear a striking resemblance to each other, joined the production to ensure the film could be finished. The picture’s conclusion is heartbreaking as the character and actor are commemorated within the context of the film, which is followed by a montage dedicated to his memory.

Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jason Statham

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