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Review: Furious 7

The Fast and the Furious franchise has seen its share of highs and lows. However,in it’s recent entries (Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast and Furious 6) we’ve seen this franchise reach dizzying new heights of cinematic proficiency under the watchful eye of director Justin Lin. Stronger scripts, rounded characters, and beautifully shot and executed action sequences have given depth to a once one dimensional universe. Lin even managed to tie the once “out of time” Tokyo Drift into the chronology of the series with the fantastic post credit scene featuring Furious 7’s main antagonist, Deckard Shaw. However, after the two hour adrenaline rush which is Furious 7, one can’t help but feel let down by the devolved “finale” of this beloved series.

With James Wan now at the helm, Furious 7 picks up a couple of years after Furious 6, and it turns out Owen Shaw is still alive, or should we say, barely. Standing bedside, Owen’s brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), has vowed to avenge him by taking out the team that crippled him. On the other side of the world, Dom (Vin Diesel) is desperately trying to jog Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) memory, and Brian (Paul Walker) is secretly struggling with his new role as a father, missing the action filled adventures of his old life, or, as he puts it, “missing the bullets”. Deckard’s first victim should come as no surprise to those who have been following the series, and following Han’s funeral Dom finds out from the incredibly flat Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel) that the only way to turn the hunter into the hunted is to acquire a device called God’s Eye, which utilizes every camera and microphone on every device in the world to find anyone you wish. If I lost you there refer to the third act of The Dark Knight. Acquiring the God’s Eye will be a feat in it’s own, as the only person who knows where it is would be the hacker that created it, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who is being held captive by a feared team of mercenaries led by Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). Quite the order to fill, but Dom and his team, as always, are game and embark on a globe trotting adventure to acquire God’s Eye and stop Deckard.

First off, it’s not the performances, it’s the script. Chris Morgan completely dropped the ball on the script for Furious 7. Weak dialogue and an unnecessarily convoluted plot detract from the film. It also creates huge issues with character development, leaving newly introduced characters Mr. Nobody, Deckard Shaw, and Jakande feeling extremely one dimensional. An utter waste of the talent that was brought in for the job. Shaw is far from menacing and in a sense fizzes out as the film goes on, but that’s truly because a film that was supposed to focus on him as an antagonist didn’t. It wanted to up the ante and it went too far. The moments between Dom and Letty are particularly painful to witness as they struggle to float the romance in the film, but with writing like this there was never any hope. All of the dialogue outside of the action seem to be the definition of expositional dialogue, and at times is hard to watch. This comes as a huge let down to a franchise that seemed to be maturing. A clear step in the wrong direction.

At the end of the day though, you didn’t come for a good script, you came for action, and it’s the very thing that saves Furious 7. You can rest assured that the best parts of this film are not in the trailer! This film is saturated with larger than life action set pieces that will literally blow your mind. From mountain tops to cityscapes, James Wan and his team are in top form as they pull off moment after moment of jaw dropping visuals. Masterful sound design, and an energetic soundtrack give body to action sequences and make you feel like you’re in the passengers seat. Guaranteed, you will never look at the Abu Dabi skyline the same again.

Lastly, Paul Walker. Any of the digital work done to finish the film was top notch. There wasn’t a moment that would make you question whether or not it was really him. There are issues with how they ended the film however, resting the conclusion of the film solely on a tribute to the actor. In saying that however, the tribute is a great one and one that is well deserved. Rest in peace Paul.

The Fast and the Furious, a series of highs and lows. In those regards, Furious 7 feels right at home. As entertaining as it can be during the action, you can’t help but wish Justin Lin was back at the helm once it’s done.

[star v=3]

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.