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New Release Review - Fast & Furious 7

Seventh installment of the high octane franchise.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: James Wan

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Elsa Pataky, Ronda Rousey, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Jordana Brewster



Leaving the cinema after Fast & Furious 7 (which is how the print screened for TMW was titled, though it has been referred to as Furious 7 elsewhere; it might just as well be labelled Dumbass: You'll Believe a Car Can Fly), I felt as though I had just been freed from a cult. I was dazed and confused. The world I had known before seemed different, and I wasn't entirely sure I could reintegrate myself into society. Mostly though, I simply wanted to put the experience behind me and pretend it never happened. Even by the standards of this franchise, which is now giving Transformers a run for its money in terms of awfulness, this is a terrible, terrible movie.
If you were foolhardy enough to watch the previous installment (Furious 6? Fast 6? Fast & Furious 6? The Fast & the Furious 6? 6 Fast 6 Furious?) you'll recall how Jason Statham turned up in the closing moments as the brother of that movie's villain, vowing to avenge his death. Well the meat of Furious 7 concerns the Stath's quest for revenge, butting heads, pecs and fenders with Vin Diesel and his friends. Whoops, sorry; as Vinny repeatedly tells us, he doesn't have friends, he has family. Just to pad the movie out well past the bladder barrier, there's another subplot about an African terrorist attempting to steal some do-hickey known as 'God's-eye', and Kurt Russell (why Kurt, why?) turns up as a shadowy government type who recruits Diesel's family.
One of the worst things we've done as a society is allow this awful franchise to get as far as seven movies. It's noughties aesthetic - all bad hip-hop and slo-mo intercutting with speeded up footage of bikini clad babes taking outdoor showers - has been parodied to death at this point, but the Furious series still trades in it without a hint of irony. It's a series that's become ludicrously overblown and desperate to justify its increasing budgets, so at this point the cars spend more time flying through the air than driving on the ground. The set-pieces delivered here are gigantic behemoths, but incredibly dull and overlong. The film's ADHD editing prevents us from appreciating just how much work has been put into creating these action sequences and you can imagine half the pages of the screenplay simply read 'Shit happens!'
Previous vehicular epics like The Italian Job, Duel and early Jackie Chan flicks are referenced throughout, which is fine, but at times the movie is lazily derivative, such as when we get a direct repeat of both the 'killing a chopper with a car' scene from Die Hard 4 and the parachuting tank sequence from The A-Team. We've seen the events of 9/11 evoked in many Hollywood blockbusters in recent years, but Furious 7 delivers the most audacious example yet, when Diesel and Walker fly (yes, fly!) a car into two skyscrapers in an Islamic nation (see what they did there?!). Something else we've seen a lot of in Hollywood movies lately is product placement, and Furious 7 features the most shameless advertising yet when it practically pauses to have Diesel and Russel star in an impromptu beer commercial.
It's a sad way for Paul Walker to go out - even the CG Walker still has a lot more charisma than Vin Diesel - and the handling of his real life death feels incredibly exploitative here. An ending coda is clumsily tacked on to pay tribute to Walker, but it makes no sense in terms of the film's narrative, and the epitaph is far from the message we should be sending out to the narcissistic young petrolheads of the world.




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