Fast and Furious 7 (2015)
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chris Morgan
Starring: Chris Bridges, Djimon Hounsou, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Lucas Black, Michelle Rodriquez, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Vin Diesel
The Hughes Verdict!
When Tokyo Drift stumbled across the finishing line way back in 2006, many Fast and Furious fans and Universal themselves probably thought that was it for the franchise. Minus any of its main stars (apart from an end cameo by Vin Diesel) the film is only worth noting for the introduction of director Justin Lin who settled down in the chair, learnt the roots before transferring the series into the juggernaut it has become.
Every reader at HCF knows how much of a fan I am of Fast 5, an entry that seemed born out of the 90’s and is up there with the likes of Con Air and Face/Off in my eyes as an Action classic. The killer twist at the end resulted in Fast 6 becoming a much wanted watch and while it lacked what the fifth offered, it was still a brilliant action film which had another massive sting in the tail, which made Fast 7 an impossible wait.
Sadly the death of Paul Walker while filming this instalment cast a huge shadow over proceedings. Even when the credits roll and we see Walker in the role of Brian for one last time, you can’t help but feel sadness at the tragedy that would become him, its a thought that haunts every frame of this movie, but at the same time adds a heart all the way up to the fitting sad and tribute end.
You can tell that his sudden death caused a massive reshaping in the whole plot of Fast 7. The general storyline has not changed, the events from Fast 6 which at the end saw Owen’s brother Deckard Shaw ( Jason Statham) enter the equation to get revenge on our gang, is still there, but where Walker would be alongside Diesel’s Dom, fighting off all the threat, he is nothing more than in the gang with Dom’s role now beefed up to the maximum.
Its to the huge credit of the writers and of that of new director James Wan, even to the entire cast who somehow manage to convince that Walker is all but there, thanks to CGI and body doubles (his real life brothers) and of course the chemistry that this lot bring to the screen, but after 4 films now, you can see the love and affection they have for each other.
Its obvious most reviews will mention the impact of Walker’s death on a much anticipated movie, but does Fast 7 give the great man the send off he deserves…….well a big high yes……even though the film does have its problems.
The much mouth watering casting of Statham does not quite give the film the engine juice you expect. I am a huge fan of the real Transporter, (not that imposter who is currently doing the trailer round) but his role here its nothing more than an extended cameo, a kind of Michael Myers Bogeyman who steps in and out of the picture to cause havoc. Even though he does have two brilliant fight scenes, first with Dwayne Johnson and then with Diesel…punch ups that once again put The Expendable franchise to shame.
The plot unexpectedly switches to the arrival of Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) who wants the gang to stop some sort of device getting into the wrong hands of another bad guy Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), terms are this, help him retrieve this device and he help them get Shaw…..which in simple terms, means high octane set pieces and very loud explosions.
The set-pieces here are bigger and better than ever. There is a glorious cars/planes/parachutes/car chase that rocks the screen and an even better car/skyscraper/smashed windows, that will get action junkies screaming with delight. Add more car chases and homages to the original film and you can see why the Fast and Furious franchise has escalated into this money spinning crowd pleaser.
But with the usual “More is better” outlook, some of the cast suffer along the way. Johnson is hardly seen in this movie, Tony Jaa has maybe just five minutes screen time, while the gorgeous Jordana Brewster does nothing more than speak on the phone. Michelle Rodriquez’s memory loss storyline comes and goes when required, while the others are just there for when the script remembers them. The main thing is, despite the tantalising cast on the posters, this is very much the Vin Diesel show, as he is covers nearly every frame and has all the best lines, even if some do actually belong in the 80’s.
The departure of Lin and in his place Wan who is mostly noted for his horror films does not alter how the film looks or feels, even though in some fight scenes, Wan is guilty of cutting away to quickly in some edited moves mostly common now in many action films.
What I loved though is how they have finally answered the problem of Tokyo Drift which has baffled fans for years, the slight cameo of its original star Lucas Black is a wonderful touch and shows the respect the franchise has for everyone who has stuck by it since the very first film.
Fast 7 is an improvement on part 6 but just fails to gain the heights of number 5, and as the quality is in the middle of those two well critically received additions, you can guess that the movie does not disappoint and should once more break box office records everywhere.
But as I give Fast 7 a massive thumbs up, the final five minutes in which the franchise, cast and fans say a final goodbye to the character of Brian and of Paul Walker, in a perfect way that does not disappoint. It does seem that this is the logical way to end the series. I very much doubt that Fast and Furious will ever get better than the last few films and with such a tearful brilliant end, it would be better if Universal said enough is enough as what this does is give fans much needed closure.
With Part 8 already in discussion it seems that money talks in Hollywood once more but at least Part 7 gives Paul Walker a wonderful send off he so rightly deserved…..