One last ride.
Coming from James Wan, a new director in the Fast and Furious family, Furious 7 does all it can top all six previous films in terms of action, as well as elevate the series on an emotional level I never would have expected to find in these films. This, of course, comes from the fact that this is the final film for the late Paul Walker and his character Brian O’Connor, one of the series two lead characters along with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torreto. Thankfully, despite Walker passing before the competition of the film, Furious 7 manages to give him one final adventure, and a fitting farewell.
Taking place directly after Fast & Furious 6, and completing the trilogy started with Fast Five (and ultimately tying in storylines from Tokyo Drift as well as Fast & Furious), the film’s focus revolves around our favorite gear head “family” under attack from Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the older brother of the villain taken down in the previous film. Big brother Shaw is a killing machine, forcing the team to work with agency spook Mr. Nobody, a role killed by Kurt Russell, to help save the world in exchange for access to Shaw’s location.
Working with the government provides unlimited resources, which ultimately leads to the most intense and balls-out insane action sequences of the entire franchise. Driving cars out of planes, between buildings, and at helicopters have upped the chaos to new levels, yet it still totally works. The last few films have slowly turned these characters into super heroes, that it would almost feel wrong if Furious 7 didn’t kick the series up to eleven.
Thankfully the special effects live up to the bombastic nature of the film. The creators took great effort to use practical effects where they could (even throwing cars out of planes), so some of the CGI is noticeable, yet never pulled me out of the film. The most incredible element of the effects work most definitely comes from the additional integration of Paul Walker into the film. Having only filmed around half of Furious 7, the work done with stunt doubles, Walker’s brothers, and digital face-mapping from Weta Digital, it’s truly hard to spot where Walker was able to film scenes, and where it might not actually be him. I was only to spot two moments where I was fairly certain it wasn’t him, and a couple others I could assume weren’t since the camera dodged around showing him directly. Still, an incredible feat, and wonderful way to honor him with a complete role in this film.
The film isn’t without it’s flaws, but they’re pretty minor. Because it is so over the top, the story doesn’t really matter a ton outside of character development, making the film overall drag a little between new set pieces. I wasn’t looking at my watch at all, but I was definitely waiting for certain story beats to move on quicker, mostly regarding Statham’s character.
We all knew going into Furious 7 that it would stand out amongst the series. After the unfortunate death of Paul Walker, this film was always going to represent the end of an era. The final tribute to Walker at the end of the film is truly touching and heartbreaking. This has grown to be one of my favorite film series, so his loss was felt by me more than many other tragic Hollywood deaths. While this is the first film in a while to not tease something for the next flick, enough is set up during the course of it to allow for more conflict to arise, as well as give an honest goodbye to Brian O’Connor.
If you’re even mildly a fan of this series, you owe it to yourself to see it, if only for the incredible action scenes, but more so for the fantastic tribute to Paul Walker. It’s sad to say goodbye, but if his memorial can be handled this well, I can only imagine how well the series will manage to recover in the next promised trilogy.