‘Furious 7’ redlines absurdity

by Trevan McGee on April 3, 2015

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down]

About a third of the way into director James Wan‘s Furious 7, franchise mainstay Dom (Vin Diesel) confronts the installment’s antagonist Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) on an abandoned stretch of Los Angeles highway, if those exist.

Each character situated in a car the perfectly describes their character, Dom in a tricked-out 70s muscle car, Shaw in a sleek six-figure European sportster, they charge at each other in a game of chicken, in which neither of them blink, resulting in a head-on collision.

In the aftermath, both characters get out of their cars, a little stiff, but unmarked before entering into the kind of philosophical dialog you’d find on the inside cover a used Western Civ book – one of the required ones.

This is the world of Furious 7, where characters talk in long, pseudo-philosophy, an escape plan boils down to driving a car down a mountain backward and random celebrities frequent street races and exclusive birthday parties in Dubai. It’s a world where a punch in the face from  Dwayne Johnson, who returns as Hobbs,  doesn’t crush every bone in your nose, only stun you momentarily.

None of this is new to the series, but other outings were definitely more fun. The “Furious” franchise has warped from a story about street racing rivalries to a weird combination of The Dukes of Hazard and The A Team Dom, Brian O’Connor (the late Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the rest of the crew are no longer outlaws, they’re government employees who use their expert driving abilities and lack of shits given about the laws of physics to out drive, out shoot and out fight some bad guys whose motivations are simply, “Look at ’em! They look like bad guys, right? That guy’s got a tattoo on his face.”

The series maintains its half-boiled grip on family and honor that never gets fully explained and is only really there to motivate the undercooked plot, but at least in previous iterations Wan played with genres. Fast Five was a fun caper movie with a killer climax. Furious 6 had some incredible chase sequences both in-car and on-foot, and another climax that pushed well beyond absurdity.

The best part of Furious 7 happens at its midway point. It’s a sequence that’s been spoiled by pretty much every trailer, but when Dom and crew parachute their cars into a mountain convoy, we’re treated to the same level of cartoon absurdity from previous offerings. It’s a fantastic sequence that is complicated, fun and doesn’t overstay its welcome. But when that same level of craziness happens two more times, it’s not fun, it’s exhausting.

Furious 7 is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve seen any of the later entries in the franchise, watched any of the trailers, seen the poster with the parachuting car or heard Diesel’s claim about it winning Best Picture – genre ridiculousness with a couple of good stunts.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Xavier April 4, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Just a little correction, this is actually Wan’s first entry in the series, might explain the lack of fun that was in the last few (Justin Lin directed 5 and 6).


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