By Ivan Mateo
With the tragic death of Paul Walker, already high anticipation levels for the release of “Furious 7” rose even higher as fans and critics alike were curious to see how the movie would handle real life adversity. Not to mention, longtime “Furious” director, Justin Lin, departed the series, while James Wan (“Insidious” and “The Conjuring”) came to helm the seventh installment. Audience members may be heading into “Furious 7” with heavy hearts and numerous questions, but rest assured, everything in this movie is handled quite well. In its opening weekend, “Furious 7” raked in $147 million to take the first spot at the box office by a wide margin, and the film does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Fourteen years have passed since the first film. “The Fast And The Furious” introduced fast cars, nitrous (or NOS), import models and “living life a quarter mile at a time” to the general public in 2001.
Typically sequels tend to fare worse and become stale, but the “Furious” series definitely ignores this and gets bigger and better.
The concluding scene of “Fast & Furious 6” introduced Jason Statham’s character while also tying the events of “Tokyo Drift” together with the main storyline.
Is there any actor or actress with the acting prowess more tailor-made than Statham to be added to a series like this? He began in the “Transporter” series, where he played an expert driver and skilled fighter. He fits perfectly into the “Furious” series.
At the onset of “Furious 7,” audiences learn Statham is Deckard Shaw, the older brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who was the antagonist defeated in “Fast & Furious 6.” The elder Shaw wants revenge on everyone who hurt his brother.
Kurt Russell comes into the series as the new shadowy, government figure proposing a mutually beneficial partnership to Dom. When he sees Toretto’s crew go to work, he cannot help but be amused at how the team actually functions and succeeds.
The crew ” Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) ” must join forces once again for “one last ride” to help Russell’s character against Shaw.
The “Furious” series always embraces an impossible level of ridiculousness and insanity in its action sequences while infusing cheesiness and one-liners in its dialogue. These films may have serious plot overtones such as government surveillance, but most of the time, audiences see how tongue-in-cheek the films actually are.
With each scene, the ridiculousness ramps up. Cars skydiving from planes, check. Hobbs flexing so hard his cast breaks off, check.
Lucas Black reprising his “Tokyo Drift” role to cameo, albeit shortly, was truly pleasant to behold.
Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey play other enemies in the film. Their real life fighting abilities are utilized correctly in well-choreographed fights. Audiences get the chance to see beautiful backdrops in Abu Dhabi and good ole Los Angeles.
Something about the “Furious” series that always catches my interest besides the beautiful cars is the sheer diversity of the cast and various roles they bring to the table. There are female leads kicking butt like Letty, intelligent male leads like Tej, muscleheads with hilarious one-liners like Johnson and Diesel and steady leads keeping everyone together like Walker.
The ending tribute for Walker plays out beautifully and genuinely pulls at the audience’s heartstrings. The song, “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, plays alongside a touching montage of Walker’s memorable moments with the rest of the cast spanning the seven “Furious” films.
The transformation of the “Furious” series from the sole focus on fast cars and illegal street racing to nail-biting adventures and action packed heists truly delivers and pushes the franchise forward.
The “Furious” series began with Walker and Diesel, and they always emphasized the constant importance of family because “family’s all that we got.” With the loss of Walker, audiences will feel the loss of a member of the “Furious” family but will also remember and celebrate the legacy he leaves.
“Furious 7” is rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language.
“Furious 7” is in theaters now.
4.4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Courtesy Universal Pictures
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