A Bona Fide Badass Blockbuster with Ballsy Bravura
Thanks to Universal Pictures we had the chance to see Fast & Furious 7 before its Australian cinematic release. We reckon it’s the best one in the series by far, so go see it as soon as you can.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew thought they met their mightiest adversary ever when they encountered Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in 2013’s Fast & Furious 6. It now turns out that Owen was just the rascal little kid brother to a much more dangerous villain, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Wherever he pops up, Deckard leaves a trail of carnage & total destruction. And the older Shaw sibling has now set his sight on the Fast & Furious-family as his next victims. By themselves the members of Toretto’s crew are no match for Shaw, but with help of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) they could beat him. They have to do Nobody a favour first by returning kidnapped hacker genius Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is held captive by Terrorist leader Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) and his henchman Kiet (Tony Jaa).
The Fast & Furious-franchise has made a remarkable turnaround in recent years, as 2011’s Fast Five was the first good one in the series after four lackluster movies (and it’s not a coincidence that this was also the first installment where we saw Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs). Fast & Furious 6 kept up the higher level set by its predecessor, but Part 7 ups it up a few notches: this is an instant action classic that outraces the other six by a mighty amount of miles per hour. Once again the laws of physics get thrown out the window with the most ludicrous stunts, even more outrageous than in any of the other movies, but part seven does so with more bravura & ballsiness than any of the previous Fast & Furious-movies.
The way Statham’s Deckard Shaw is introduced in the first scene of the film already shows a clever shift in tone; first you see him at his brother’s sickbed, then the camera pans out and you see what happened before. This sets off a perfect introduction for the character as the merciless villain, and effectively changes the tone of this instalment to a more tongue in cheek kind of humour. In the last two films it seemed like only The Rock was in on the joke, but this time everybody goes along with it in a glorious way. The result could’ve been daggy, but Furious 7 maintains this vastly improved tone the whole way through.
This slight shift in style may be due to Aussie director James Wan taking over from Justin Lin. Wan’s direction full of clever camera angles and spinning shots makes the action more kinetic and visceral, plus we finally get the type of badass tongue-in-cheek quotes that the series lacked before. The Rock gets the best lines of all, and he’s never been better- even though he’s only in the movie for about 10 minutes. It’s hard to imagine the usually bland Chris Morgan would’ve come up with all this bona fide badassness without the help of a ghostwriter, but if he has this is a big step forward.
With this film the Fast &Furious- franchise truly joined the blockbuster A-League, as Furious 7 is an all-round excellent action movie. The franchise aims for the heights reached by genre milestones like Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol or Skyfall, and actually achieves a similar level of greatness as these modern day action classics. Literally almost, as just like in Mission Impossible 4, Furious 7 has unbelievable stunts that take place hundreds of meters high on skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates. But of course since it’s still a Fast & Furious -movie these stunts involve a car. It is not clear whether the shameless way in which Abu Dhabi is promoted in the way is meant as a joke, or not; The Middle-Eastern Metropole is depicted as a beach paradise where all women walk around in skimpy bikinis. In reality any woman who’d dare to prance around in bathing attire there would get thrown in jail, or worse.
Aside from the crazy stunts, the fights also deliver the goods! The Rock vs The Stath is as epic as you’d expect it to be, Michelle Rodriguez and UFC-champion Ronda Rousey spectacularly kick the crap out of eachother in evening dresses and high heels, and Paul Walker faces Tony Jaa in an insane fight while sliding down a set of stairs. The inevitable showdown between Vin Diesel and The Stath is memorable as well.
The only downside is the soundtrack; while the Fast & Furious-series has grown up, the soundtrack is still full of third rate rappers. Perhaps there was no budget left to get some decent tunes, or maybe Universal Music desperately wants to launch a few new acts. But a movie this big deserves a killer track by a big name like Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg.
In spite of all the cinematic goodness described above, Fast & Furious 7 will mainly be remembered as Paul Walker’s last movie, as he died late 2013 while the movie was still in production. When the end comes Walker’s untimely death is addressed in a thoroughly respectful way full of style, class and grace. If you thought you’d never tear up during a Vin Diesel monologue, then think again. Never before has there been a movie that will make so many tough guys cry.