FURIOUS 7: 3 ½ STARS. “a crowd pleaser that never misses a chance to rev its engine.”
The beauty of the “Fast and the Furious” movies is their simplicity. The high concept of the new film can be summed up in a handful of words—a dead man’s brother seeks revenge on the Toretto gang—but fans don’t flock to the films for the story, they come to see the wild celebration of muscle cars, muscle shirts and muscle heads, and in this, “Furious 7” does not disappoint.
The new film begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and company (Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jordana Brewster) finally attempting to lead normal lives back in the United States. The timely wounding of mercenary and bad guy Owen Shaw (Luke Evans)—he was gravely injured in the last film when the Mercedes G463 he was in flew out of the cargo dock of a moving plane—was the last obstacle between the “F&F” crew and peace and tranquility. Trouble is, Owen’s older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) wants revenge. Adding intrigue to the mix is a mysterious maybe-he’s-a-good-guy-maybe-he’s-not government operative named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), beautiful hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)—“That is a woman worth falling out of a plane for,” says Roman.—and a ruthless warlord (Djimon Hounsou) who yells “Get him!” every few minutes.
That’s it. After that it’s all snappy one-liners, wild car chases, fight scenes, etc.
You might want to have your cholesterol checked after “Furious 7.” This much cheese in one serving can’t be good for you. You may also get sunburnt from the reflected glare of all the explosions. The new “F&F” movie might not be good for you, but it is two hours and twenty minutes of no-airbag fun.
It’s also a further step toward the James Bonding of the series. But not the Daniel Craig 007. “Furious 7” has more in common with the realm of the ridiculous gadget heavy Bond movies that featured exotic locations, automobile acrobatics—there’s every kind of car crash here, including a wild car chase inside a luxury apartment!—and villainous characters. Not content with just one bad guy “Furious 7” offers up two, Statham as the revenge starved brother-on-a-mission and, as back-up, the trigger happy Hounsou
It also gives the silliest of Bond stories—I’m looking at you “Moonraker”—a run for its money. The plot isn’t as much a story as it is justification to put the characters in motion. Why risk life-and-limb to get access to a computer program that will help Toretto’s clan located Shaw when he seems to pop up around every corner? It’s the thing that fuels most of the action, and it makes absolutely no sense at all. At best it is an excuse to introduce Ramsey, the picture’s Bond girl.
Not that any of that matters. Audiences don’t go to the “F&F” movies to engage their brains; they go for the crazy stunts and the cocky swagger. They go for the “vehicular warfare,” the “No way!” moments and Diesel’s rumble and mumble line delivery. Here Vin goes head to head with Statham for the title of Gravelliest Voiced Action Star, and winds up in a tie.
Subtle it ain’t but that is the beauty of these movies. They know what they are and they deliver time in and time out. From Diesel’s “unleash the beast” scenes to mano- a-car action, “Furious 7” exists in its own ecosystem where Dwayne “Daddy’s got to go to work” Johnson’s can remove a cast from his broken arm by simply flexing his oversized biceps and cars can effortlessly glide from one high rise to another.
As important as the action are the camaraderie and loyalty. “I don’t have friends,” says Dom, “ I have family,” a point nicely made in a touching coda paying tribute to star Paul Walker who died in a car accident in November 2013.
“Furious 7” is a bit long—a movie like this should be a down-and-dirty eighty-eight minutes—but it’s also a loud-and-proud crowd pleaser that never misses a chance to rev its engine.