There was a quiz on BuzzFeed titled, “Can You Tell The Difference Between The “Fast And The Furious” Movies?” It had various screenshots from all the movies in the franchise and you had to guess which one was from which movie. It was very difficult. I failed gloriously.
The lesson I learned from the quiz is that all the movies in the The Fast and Furious franchise are the same story — not redundant – but a very well thought out story that are building blocks to make one big cinematic universe much like all the Star Wars or Harry Potter movies. It’s like the Voltron of action car movies. (There may be minor spoilers ahead…you’ve been warned.)
Furious 7 is the latest installment which brings us a new baddie Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who was seen at the end of the Fast & Furious 6 (and if we are getting technical, his death scene was also included in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) killing Han (Sun Kang). Turns out, he’s picking off each member of the F&F crew one at a time as revenge for the death of his brother, Owen who the crew took down in Fast & Furious 6.
All of this story is like a prime time soap opera with scruff and high levels of testosterone.
In the beginning of the movie we see Deckard at a hospital at the side of his brother’s death bed. The camera pans out only to see that Deckard has caused bedlam in the hospital. He’s killed a bunch of officers, set the place on fire and everyone is scared shitless of him. He walks away and blows up the entire place, naturally. Thus begins the ridiculous action-packed, bone-breaking, sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat, gratuitous, excessive, sweaty-palmed, WTF-ery that only a F&F movie can deliver and get away with.
Next on Deckard’s list is Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who has been doing more desk work than field work as of late. He encounters Deckard in the shadows of the all-glass office (this makes sense to add more excitement for what’s about to go down) obtaining all the information he needs to track down the others. So Hobbs catches him, they talk some cheesy fighting words and they get down to it, smashing all the glass walls in the damn office until Hobbs finally ends up jumping out the window to save Elena (Elsa Patakay) as Deckard throws an obnoxiously sophisticated explosive device at them.
Everyone is fine – with the exception of Hobbs bed ridden with a bunch of broken bones. He calls upon Toretto (Vin Diesel) to let him no what went down. And after an explosive device is delivered to the crew’s home and explodes endangering the life Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian’s (Paul Walker) family, Toretto decides it’s time that Deckard get shut down.
Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris join Toretto and Brian to bring down Deckard, but then they realize that they also have a B-story when Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) comes into the picture. He let’s them know about an all encompassing tracking device called The God’s Eye and a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) that can control it , which is being hunted down by Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) and his goons. So now the crew has to deal with that as well.
This is a lot of story, right? There is a whole lotta convoluted shit going down…but who cares? This is a fucking Fast and Furious movie. The story has to be just as ridiculous as the action to work. And on that level, it works.
Director James Wan knew exactly what he needed to do with Chris Morgan‘s script. He needed to raise the level, the tone, the action and breathe new life into something that has been firing on all cylinders since its inception. There was a certain elegance he injected into the grit and magnificently unrealistic action scenes – flying cars, surviving roll-overs, head-on collisions, driving off of a crumbling parking garage, drones…it’s all acceptable bullshit. I loved every single damn minute of every single damn chase scene, fight scene, and action-packed explosion.
Obviously, the emotional level of this movie is high because of the death of Paul Walker. It’s felt throughout the entire movie – there were times when my eyes welled up (specifically the ending). It’s nice to know that he will live on throughout the franchise’s pedigree. The theme of “family” is evident and is executed with straight-forward grace and brotherly love without making it schmaltzy…maybe it’s because it is accompanied by badass cars and fight scenes that will squeeze one or two DAYUMs out of your mouth. Nonetheless, the bond that the cast and the characters have in the movie are genuine and it’s not all the time you feel that in a movie like this.
Speaking of those fight scenes, I greatly appreciate how they just threw in muy thai master Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey in the mix to add some blatant color and raging realness. Perhaps this will bring some more work for Jaa in American action films because his fighting style is too awesome to not be seen by the mainstream. As for Rousey…any time you see her, you just no some batshit crazy fighting shit is going to go down. In this case, it was with the equally badass Michelle Rodriguez…and they were both in heels and evening gowns.
When I say that this franchise is “ridiculous,” it is the best ridiculous possible. It’s movies like these that make people want to go to the movies. It’s fun. It’s fantasy. It’s exciting. It’s an escape. It’s one of the best in a selection of mediocre movies released in 2015 so far. Furious 7 doesn’t close a chapter in the Fast and Furious franchise. It ends a volume in a series. And I cant’ wait for the second volume of 10 movies. Bring it.
Furious 7 opens in theaters Friday, April 3.