NO SPOILERS, BUT GENERAL PLOT POINTS DISCUSSED
I saw Furious Seven tonight and I learned a great many things! For example, did you know:
- that it’s possible for a guy to fall out of a window ten storeys up, smash into a car and not die?
- that you can drive full tilt over a cliff, smash into rocks multiple times, and walk away unscathed (women are required to wear helmets, of course).
- that you can walk away from a head-on collision at 80 mph, with no airbags?
- that a car can launch from a ramp and sideswipe a helicopter?
- that you can jump out of a car moving at 80 mph and not break a single bone?
- that the quickest way to travel from one building to the next, if you find the need to do so, is to drive through the windows, even if you’re over 1000 ft up in the air in said building?
- that if a person is unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing, tears are more effective than CPR?
- that if you smash your badass muscle car, another one will magically appear in the next scene?
- that all women associated with men who drive fast cars, no matter how remote or obscure the association, are fine as hell, have unbelievable bodies and wear either bikinis or tight dresses?
- that whomever is cast as Shazam opposite Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam in the upcoming DC film better start training now if he wants to stand toe-to-toe with Johnson, because Johnson is built like an effing Terminator?
Okay, I’ll just stop. I could go on for another few paragraphs, but I think you get where I’m going. As my fellow movie buffs from Podcast Juice informed me, Furious 7 is the type of film that, prior to entering the theater, you should go buy one of those portable coolers that they use to transport organs when a patient is in need of, say, a heart or a liver transplant; and put your brain in the cooler for the two hours you’re watching this film. Only then will you be able to enjoy it. Which, for the most part, I did.
I enjoyed it because at some point, what with the corny dialogue, the nominal to bad acting, the outrageous stunts and action scenes, and the nonsensical plot, I accepted it for what it was. And that is, this is nothing more than a “so bad, it’s good” popcorn action flick. Maybe “bad” is the wrong word; “silly”is probably more apropos. There are some excellently staged fight scenes, and the driving scenes are off the charts. The story–and make no mistake, it’s ridiculous for me to even analyze the story–is needlessly convoluted. I sat there wanting to make sure all the plot points were holding up, but it ultimately didn’t matter. The basic premise is that former British black ops agent Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the brother of a baddie who was injured in the previous film by our heroes, I suppose (I didn’t see it) strikes back at Brian (Paul Walker), who is attempting to live a domesticated life (his introduction in this film provides a quick but genuine laugh). Dominic and crew want to track Shaw down and exact revenge, but are enlisted by government agent Frank Petty to locate Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel from Game Of Thrones) who’s been kidnapped by a terrorist (Djimon Honsou) because Ramsey possesses the God’s Eye, an Orwellian tracking device that can locate anyone anywhere on the planet. If Dominic and Co. deliver Ramsey and the God’s Eye to Petty, Petty will allow them to use the device to locate Shaw. The fact that Shaw is stalking Dominic and Co. to kill them all, and he engages them throughout the film would seem to make their search for the God’s Eye moot. Did I say “basic premise?” Had I left my brain in that cooler, I wouldn’t be ruminating over any of this.
As I mentioned, the acting is nominal at best. While Tyrese Gibson provides humorous comic relief in the film, Vin Diesel provided some real-life comic relief when he suggested this film would win the Oscar for best picture. While no one will be taking home any trophies for acting, there are some bright spots. Ludacris surprised me as an effective actor, playing a cool computer geek. Johnson is a naturally charismatic performer, and while every other line he utters is an eye-rolling catchphrase, he sells it. And Kurt Russell brings some gravitas to the second act of the film. I couldn’t help but think he was slumming, though; I wonder if he caught Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and got on the phone with his agent.
And then there are those moments with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. They share a number of scenes together and each time they appeared onscreen, I could hear the screeching of brakes as they brought the film to a halt. We’re talking love scenes on the level of Anakin and Padme. They’re really bad.
Which leaves me with Paul Walker. By no stretch a master thespian, he was good in the film. I commend the film and the marketing department for not exploiting his untimely death. Perhaps because this is an ensemble franchise, I never felt like he was being given a spotlight, rather he just played the part he was given and he played it well. I can’t help but think of The Dark Knight, where nearly every line by Ledger’s Joker was afforded applause, gasps, chuckles, etc. from the audience with whom I saw that film. Then again, Ledger wasn’t able to share the screen with an ensemble. Walker doesn’t overwhelm the film because of the tragedy; there is a weight when he first appears onscreen, but that quickly disappears, as it should, so that we can simply enjoy his performance, which I think is the best way for an actor who passes suddenly to be remembered. Having said that, the filmmakers prove themselves a class act by giving Walker a very moving tribute at the film’s conclusion. I don’t want to reveal anything, but the last scene is an overhead shot that is so moving in a metaphorical sense that, I have to say, even though I haven’t invested anything in these characters or this franchise, it brought me to tears. Kudos to the filmmakers for the classy and moving manner in which they handled this delicate matter.
Bottom line, I recommend Furious 7, because even though it’s silly, it’s fun. Adding Statham to the cast makes it feel like The Expendables on Yokohamas. It’s really all about the cars, the machismo, gorgeous women, and mindless action. And mindless action, if done right, can be entertaining (your pen ran out of ink while taking notes, Mr. Bay? Please, borrow mine, I insist). So I say, go and enjoy. Just don’t forget to pick up a portable cooler on your way to the theater. I think they’re on sale at Target. 3/5 reels
P.S. Can anyone tell me what Dominic Turetto, or for that matter, any of these guys do for a living? I still don’t get whether they’re just muscle car enthusiasts who became special agents or if they’ve worked for the government all along? I suppose given that I liked this film, I could go back and watch all the others to get the backstory, but honestly, life’s too short and Wikipedia was created for a reason.