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Furious 7
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by alejandroariera

"The Family that Speeds Together...Stays Together"
4 stars

The “Fast and Furious” franchise is in essence a series about boys (and some girls) and their toys. These toys, though, are several steps above those old Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars they might have played with as kids, flinging them along plastic racetracks or across hardwood floors or from the top of their dining room tables. Some of them may have even been too young to have played with those old Smash Up Derby cars that you shot across the room to see their parts fly once they crashed against the wall. Although, truth be told, these toys may very well have inspired the over-the-top, logic-defying, steroid-fueled stunts of all seven films.

The series’ roots can also be found in such wild, cross-country, outlaw films of the 70s as Monte Hellman’s “Two-Lane Blacktop,” “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry” and “Race with the Devil.” But ever since he took over as scriptwriter for the series beginning with “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” Chris Morgan has been building a mythology around this crew of daredevils led by Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) that is no different than the ones being currently built by Marvel and DC on the big and small screens. Dom and his pals may not have any superpowers but they are not afraid of engaging in bone-crunching fights with their adversaries and can survive, almost unscathed, all sorts of crashes, dives, machine gun fire and even a plane crash (after bringing one down with harpoons attached to their souped-up cars in “Fast & Furious 6”).

“Furious 7” builds on that mythology. It welcomes new characters –hacker Ramsey, played by “Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel, and government operative Mr. Nobody played with gusto by Kurt Russell (a perfect fit for this franchise; hope to see more of him)– while poignantly bidding farewell to another: Brian O’Conner, played by Paul Walker who died on a fiery crash halfway through filming. Although “Furious 7” features a funeral and constant references to mortality, Morgan’s script and James Wan’s direction deftly balance an emotional core with the wham-blam action sequences we have come to expect.

A post-final credit scene in “Fast & Furious 6” introduced audiences to Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), big brother of terrorist Owen (Luke Evans) whom Dom’s gang brought down in that plane crash. Deckard wants to avenge his little brother and he begins by killing Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo. “Furious 7” begins with a hospital visit: after promising a convalescing Owen that he will take care of Dom and his crew, the camera follows him as he leaves the hospital, showing glimpses of the mayhem Deckard left behind on his way to his brother’s room. He later breaks into DDS agent Luke Hobbs’ office (Dwayne Johnson) and after stealing his computer files, engages Hobbs in a bone-crunching, window-shattering, bomb-throwing mano a mano, that leaves the federal agent in the hospital. Hours later, Deckard sets off another bomb in Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) and Brian’s home. If there’s something Dom Toretto doesn’t like, it’s someone messing with his family.

From his hospital bed, Dobbs arranges a meeting between Dom and Mr. Nobody, who makes Dom an offer he can’t refuse: rescue Ramsey from a group of terrorists led by Jakande (Djimon Honsou) while she is being led to a secret location in the Caucasus Mountains. She, in turn, will lead them to a gadget called “God’s Eye” that would be the envy of Orwell’s Big Brother (the gadget taps into every single smartphone, camera, iPad, in the world…call it surveillance on steroids). The gadget will help Dom and his gang pinpoint where Deckard is. What the U.S. government will do with it afterwards is left up in the air.

Here, “Furious 7” enters into full “Mission: Impossible” territory. In fact, you could argue that Wan, Morgan and the entire stunt team are engaging in a game of one-upmanship with the Tom Cruise-driven franchise. From jumping off a plane from God knows how many feet and taking on a fortified bus to driving through and between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, the film delivers one “top this if you can” sequence after another that stand as some of the best in the franchise (although my favorite is still “Fast Five”’s climactic sequence shot up and down the streets of Puerto Rico’s financial district –standing in for downtown Rio de Janeiro– and on the Teodoro Moscoso bridge).The final sequence on the streets of L.A. made me smile as I recognized, in its use of a stealth military helicopter, a sly tip of the hat to John Badham’s 1983 thriller “Blue Thunder” about, what else, a stealth police helicopter.

For a series so focused on the idea of family, it’s curious that, outside of his sister and now-amnesiac girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), we have not met a single member of Dom’s actual family (or for that matter any of his friends’ families) until this seventh story: Mando (played by bachata superstar Romeo Santos), Dom’s Dominican Republic-based brother who lives in a heavily armed compound that hints to an equally outlaw past. But this time, “family” is more than a word in a line of dialogue. Brian is now a responsible father who is missing the good old days of car races and flying bullets and Letty is still trying to figure out where she fits in in this ensemble. Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) keep teasing each other, behaving like brothers who were separated at birth a long time ago. This cast is so comfortable in these roles, their rapport so effortless, that they do feel like family.

Paul Walker’s death looms over these proceedings, yet “Furious 7” is never a sad, mournful film. It’s true to its roots and, amidst all the mayhem, a celebration of life. Not only the life of one actor but of a group of friends and collaborators who love each other and what they are doing. The film bids farewell to Walker in a respectful, touching and even poetic manner. “Furious 7” is a B-film with a lot of heart and soul.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25900&reviewer=434
originally posted: 04/03/15 15:38:42
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell the series peaked with first one vin diesel is a crap actor 1 stars
10/08/15 mr.mike Has a been there-done that feel, Russell is underused and Walker is obviously spliced in. 2 stars
8/05/15 Meep Liked 4 and 5 but this one missed the spot, despite some good moments 2 stars
4/11/15 Loader These movies are terrible 1 stars
4/05/15 KingNeutron A bit too much shaky-cam and unbelievable lack of bodily hurt, but well worth seeing 4 stars
4/04/15 Bob Dog Seven sucked the fun out of the franchise - - unnecesarily soapy. 2 stars
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  03-Apr-2015 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Sep-2015


  DVD: 15-Sep-2015

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