Furious Seven (2015)

4 Apr

Furious_7_Reparto

Smith’s Verdict: **1/2
Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Furious Seven” is the seventh entry in the highly successful series of “The Fast and the Furious” films that basically represent the equivalent of what they feature much of: street racing. Both street racing and these films are made up of speed, adrenaline, and a divergent lack of intelligence. “Furious Seven” is mostly on that level. But this time around, there’s a sense of poignancy surrounding the film’s fun measure, and it has to do with the untimely death of star Paul Walker. Walker died midway through filming and because we’re aware of that, that kind of takes away from the fun whenever he’s on screen.

If you can get past that (which isn’t easy, seeing as how the fourth wall is nearly broken when it brings up this matter near the end), this seventh entry in a film series that is all about stunts, effects, energy, and quick editing is…pretty much the same thing. It’s a relentless series of exciting action sequences that don’t generate any real tension because everyone in the audience knows that everything will turn out okay. But they look great and provide us with a great deal of trailer-fodder. My favorite scene involves Vin Diesel’s Dom and his allies (Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, and Ludacris) parachuting out of the back of a plane…with cars. It’s tremendously insane and fun to watch, and it’s followed by a similarly insane moment as Walker attempts to flee from the back of a truck that is about to hurdle off a cliff.

Does the story even matter? Does it matter that Jason Stathum’s character is a Special Ops assassin out to avenge his brother’s death by killing Diesel and company, thus making it your typical hunter-vs-hunted tale? And does it even matter that Kurt Russell joins the cast as a government agent who enjoys watching these guys work? Does it matter that there’s a mercenary played by Djimon Hounsou using surveillance technology to track them down? Nope. Not at all. It’s just an excuse to give us awesome action scenes; nothing more, nothing less. I feel that it tries to be a James Bond movie (complete with a beautiful woman, played by Nathalie Emmanuel, who knows a thing or two about computer hacking), but when you have as much high-speed energy as this, you don’t care much about anything else.

Give the filmmakers some credit for attempts at character building, such as when Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor, is struggling to choose between the adrenaline-junkie life he’d gotten used to or a quiet, responsible family life he’s getting used to. But other moments such as Rodriguez’s amnesiac character trying to regain her memories as Diesel’s wife aren’t as successful.

The film ends with a tribute to Paul Walker, which thankfully isn’t done with merely a “For Paul” dedication but with a montage of shots of him from earlier in the series. It also has a nice reflective moment that works with the message I think was trying to get across all along: it’s all about family. I won’t say any more about it, but it’s actually a well-done moment.

I’m giving the film a mixed review but admittedly with some affection. I did enjoy it, and I would probably see it again on DVD or on demand to see those glorious action scenes again. Bottom line here is that it either works for you or it doesn’t. If you like energized, adrenaline-fueled set pieces, this is the movie for you. Just expect a little bit of pathos near the end.

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