More is more
To really enjoy the “Fast and Furious” films, it is important to understand that at their core they are comedies. Even die-hard fans, if they were being truly honest would admit that it is impossible to take seriously the preposterous nature of the over-bloated yet wildly creative stunt sequences any more than one cannot laugh out-loud at some of the often cringe-worthy dialogue. And the 7th installment ups the ante of both of these elements to go with the sentimental sub-text of late actor Paul Walker’s final moments on screen.
While this 7th installment is as funny as the dialogue is inane (examples: “The thing about street fights…the street always wins…” or “You don’t know me…but you’re about to…”) the filmmakers get an “A” for effort. Parachuting cars out of cargo planes and through several of the world’s largest skyscrapers while destroying some 230 vehicles in the process requires some serious production set-up. And while any “Transformer” movie can claim similar quantitative destruction, “Fast and Furious 7 does so with unique bravado and imagination. And some of the cars are truly dazzling, as they include late model Mercedes Benz, Maserati’s, and Ferraris along with old school muscle cars from Dodge and Plymouth to name but a few. And the car chases obviously required some impressive stunt work and they are executed with a certain precision that even after 7 films doesn’t get boring.
Oh, the plot. Well, that is pretty irrelevant here but suffice to say hunky Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel aka “The Luckiest Actor in Hollywood”) and his crew return this time to contend with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who plans to kill each of our favorite gang as revenge for what they did to his brother in the last film. There’s also a Somalian terrorist (Djimon Hounsou) trying to steal an all-powerful computer program called “God’s Eye” so the gang are enlisted by a government official (Kurt Russell) to prevent him. There’s plenty of misogynistic eye candy that might make parents blush to go with the unbridled machismo that is fairly innocent for a PG-13 movie these days.
For fans, it is great to see everyone back again including Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson with some added campy kick provided by Dwayne Johnson who was brought in a few installments back. But the most noteworthy performance here is the swan song of Paul Walker who in an eerie coincidence is first seen in a garage with an early 50’s era Porsche roadster, the same model (albeit much newer) that was involved in his fiery fatal crash in 2013. While his death casts a bit of a shadow on the film, a tribute at the end of the film feels genuine and restrained – a nice surprise.
Director James Wan – an interesting choice considering his primary background in horror films like “Saw”– knows how to keep the action ratcheted up, realizing that fans aren’t here for the subtleties of plot or prose. Of course, Michael Bay’s backers (does he have any?) could say the same thing about his films. Not to split hairs or anything but there really is a difference between dumb fun, and just dumb. “Fast and Furious 7” sets new benchmarks for dumb fun, and that’s a compliment.
Rated PG-13 (for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language)