‘Furious 7’ is a beautiful chapter in the franchise

Furious Seven (2015)

Furious 7 (2015)

Directed by James Wan

7.5/10  PG-13

I can’t exactly put into words what it’s like to spend over 12 hours with a character like Brian O’Conner over the course of a week, just to see his last ride cap it all off. “Furious 7” was the last film Paul Walker ever shot. Fittingly, since “The Fast and the Furious” fourteen years ago was the movie that launched his career. But now, the franchise will have to find a way to continue without him. How they’ll pull that off, I’m not sure. He was the heart of the franchise. The cast and crew of “Furious 7” knew that.

“The sins of London have followed us home.” Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are about to pay for their treatment of “Fast and Furious 6” mastermind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) when his big brother Deckard (Jason Statham) pays them a visit. But if one expertly trained professional assassin wasn’t enough, the crew also has to rescue a hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) who’s in possession of a tracking system called God’s Eye. With good reason. This thing can use cell phones and security cameras around the world to keep an eye on anybody even close to civilization. But Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) wants it too, and he has the people and the drones to get it. Thankfully, the crew has the help of a special agent (Kurt Russell) and their old friend Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). They’ll need all the help they can get.

The franchise’s biggest asset has always been its tight-knit cast family. Without each and every one of them, “Fast and Furious” would be just another action franchise. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were brothers, just as close as any blood relatives. That real-life bond shone through on screen. Love and family were what the “Fast and Furious” franchise was all about. Not cars, not guns, not plot. Family. And in that, they excelled. It’s hard to hate a movie that makes you feel good. Like you’re part of the family. When their lives are in danger (and in “Furious 7,” they often are), you fear for them. Not consciously, but by instinct alone. Screenwriters and directors can only build a movie like “Furious 7” so much. It’s not their movie. It belongs to the family that stars in it.

“Furious 7” is epic in scale, sporting the biggest budget in the franchise so far—and one of the biggest of all-time. It’s even faster and more incredible than the last. It’s the hottest movie of the year—the people, the music, the cars, the weather. Everything is new, fresh, and fun. These world travelers have been to London and Rio de Janeiro, but their visit to Abu Dhabi is their best yet. They fit right in. But for their ultimate test, they return home to the streets of Los Angeles.

I could talk about how having two villains with different motives muddles the plot. Or how “Furious 7” relies too much on past movies to stand alone. Or how the script gets lazy when it tries to explain the story. But when I saw Paul Walker in his final scenes and I heard Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth sing “See You Again” (an early Oscar favorite), I forgave the film of any failures it might have had. A franchise that cares so deeply about one of its own is no longer a money-making business venture. It’s a family. We might as well be watching an ultra-high-budget home video. If “Furious 7” doesn’t make you fall in love with every person involved in it, you aren’t in the theater for the right reason.


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