IR FILM REVIEW: Supernerd Revs his Engines for ‘Furious 7’

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas

After slogging through months of subpar films in the post-Oscar voting period, we’ve finally made it to “Blockbuster Season.” What used to start in the early summer has now wedged its way into the springtime, slowly giving us one massively-budgeted studio tent pole after another. We begin this year’s season with the highly anticipated Furious 7, the latest installment of the Fast and Furious film series.

It’s kind of funny to look at the evolution of these films. What started with the first movie, which was pretty much a “loud engines, fast cars, bright colors,” Point Break homage has evolved into a rather complex story over the last few sequels about the families we choose and the lengths we go to for them.

Furious 7 brings the timeline up-to-date, finally merging the current set of films with the outcomes from the third film, Tokyo Drift (which we didn’t even know was a “future film” until the fourth film, Fast and Furious, was released). We start with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) ruminating over the comatose form of his younger furious-7brother Owen (Luke Evans), the antagonist that met a rather messy fate at the end of Fast 6. The tone is set early as we see the carnage the elder Shaw brother has wrought upon the security team at the hospital where his brother is being watched – bodies lay prone and property destruction is abundant. This is a man not to be trifled with.

We slowly get up to date with the Toretto family and friends. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) are going back to old stomping grounds and familiar territory – drag racing – while Brian (Paul Walker) is uncomfortably settling into domestication with Mia (Jordana Brewster) and toddler son Jack. But nothing good lasts forever and Deckard Shaw, fresh from a “meeting” with Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and a quick trip overseas to Tokyo to visit Han, has some explosive plans for the group of people that put his brother out of commission.

Furious 7Forced into an alliance with the shady G-man “Mr. Nobody” (Kurt Russell, who looks like he had a metric ton of fun doing what he did), Dom and his crew are put on the trail of hacker Ramsey and the “God’s Eye” computer program, which will allow them to track Shaw anywhere on the planet, provided there’s a camera or microphone within range. They only need to circumvent Ramsey’s kidnappers, the mercenary Mose Jakande (Djimon Honsou) and his gang of thugs, led by second-in-command Kiet (Tony Jaa). From there, the hunted become the hunters and the race to stop Shaw before he exacts his revenge enters its final laps.

Director James Wan lets us know that he’s not just a one trick pony. Known mostly for horror films like the first two Insidious flicks, Saw and The Conjuring, one would assume that Wan is only good with the cheap scares and “torture porn” genres. But branching out and directing a big budget film like Furious 7 has shown me that he has an eye for action. The car chase scenes were some of the best in the series. And the one-on-one fights between Paul Walker and Tony Jaa were fast-paced and hard-hitting.

furious-7 2Even after the events of previous films, writer Chris Morgan outdoes himself with the action and drama packed into Furious 7. Having penned every installment of the series from Tokyo Drift forward, you have to figure Morgan might be running out of ideas soon. The stunts in this film were absurdly over-the-top but in a good way. From cars parachuting out of the back of a military plane to jumping a vehicle between the top towers on one of the world’s tallest buildings to a Terminator-level villain that won’t stop, this is going to be a tough film to beat on the action scale. Pretty much the next step is Vin Diesel holding a handful of wires that he just ripped out of a rocket while he parachutes back to Earth from the stratosphere. (Wait, did that happen in XXX?)

And a quick tip of the cap to WETA, the digital effects company that helped out majorly in the aftermath of Paul Wallker’s untimely passing. The studio still wasn’t done filming with Walker when he tragically died in a car accident, so WETA took unused footage from previous shoots and body doubles (most notably Paul’s brothers Caleb and Cody) to compete the actor’s role. With the exception of one part near the end, the digital and practical effects utilized were damn near flawless.

With a frenetic pace and smooth performances from everyone, Furious 7 sped through it’s near two-and-a-half hour run time, not letting up for even a second. The fanbase that has made this series of films the blockbuster franchise it is today won’t be disappointed. This movie delivers on everything that people have come to expect from it – loud and fast cars, bone-crunching fights and lots of beautiful ladies.

Universal has started the summer blockbuster season roaring on all cylinders and with a nitrous blast of pure adrenaline. With some of the best action we’re likely to see this year, Furious 7 is a ride worth taking.