Furious 7 Was Absurd but That’s Good
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chris Morgan
Based on Characters by Gary Scott Thompson which were based on Racer X by Ken Li
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Lucas Black, Jason Statham
Running time: 134 minutes
Rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language
Furious 7 is the first of the Fast and Furious franchise that I have seen, I start with that because that information is going to inform everything about my opinion regarding this film, also it is to give you an understanding for my lack of franchise knowledge. Furious 7 may be one of the most ridiculously dumb films I have seen; it is also a surprising amount of fun. There are countless moments that had me laughing at the unintentionally hilarious dialogue; at least, it appeared to be unintentionally hilarious. There was only a single character that made me question if I should view this as an action-comedy or not. If anything would qualify this as a very well made high budget “B” movie. To me, that classification carries with it an absurdly contrived plot, groan inducing dialogue, and overly elaborate action that we are not meant to take seriously on any level. I like thinking of Furious 7 in this way; it removes a substantial burden from me as a critic. I can easily say, if you like outrageous mindless action, and dialogue so cheesy it likely originated from Plymouth Wisconsin, rolled into a preposterous plot, you will probably get a kick out of Furious 7 .
Furious 7 picks up with the end of events from Furious 6—or so I have been told—with Owen Shaw hospitalized in intensive care, and his brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) promising him vengeance on those that put him there. Cut to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) taking Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who previously lost her memory, to Race Wars, I would assume in an attempt to help her recover her lost memory. Then to Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) sporting a very nice min-van dropping his son off at school. Then we catch up with Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) at DSS HQ catching up on paperwork when Deckard Shaw shows up to track down the crew that took out his brother, in the ensuing fight Hobbs is blow out a window and hospitalized. He’ll be OK so back to Brian and Dom; Brian is getting ready to take his kid to school, when Dom gets a phone call from Deckard in Tokyo after he has killed Han. Just after Deckard tells Dom, “You don’t know me. But you’re about to” a package on the front porch explodes, completely destroying the house, but they narrowly escape the blast, without much more than a few scrapes. Dom immediately flies to Tokyo to bring Han’s body home, and sends Brian and his family to a safe house in the Dominican Republic. When Deckard Shaw shows up at Han’s funeral Dom enters into a high-speed car chase, ending in a head-on collision, which they both survive unscathed. Before they could even start the fight, a team of solders descends, firing on Shaw, saving Dom’s life, but allowing Shaw to escape. This convenient team of Special Forces is run by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), who now needs Dom’s (and his crew) help to recover a hacker by the name of Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and a highly advanced surveillance hacking program they created called “god’s eye”, which they can use to find Shaw before he finds them. Now Dom and crew are in a race to rescue Ramsey, and recover God’s Eye before Shaw catches up to them.
Before you ask, yes, that plot is unbelievably convoluted, and so packed full of dues ex machine that you don’t have to suspend disbelief, you have to send it on an extended leave of absence. Did I mention that the dialogue is ridiculous to the point of being hilarious? The only thing that made the dialogue better, was the fact that it was delivered so earnestly. The only performer that seemed to understand how absurd it was Dwayne Johnson, this means he provided a scene stealing performance so ham-fisted I honestly wish he had been in the entire film. His was really the only character I had any affinity for. This might be due to my unfamiliarity with the established characters from the franchise, but I somehow doubt there is much more depth to these characters than what is on display here. Other than Johnson, I would be remiss to mention the sendoff the filmmakers gave Paul Walker who tragically died near the end of production. The end of the film was fashioned into an incredibly touching tribute to this actor. It almost seems unfair to have such a wonderful end-cap to a film of this caliber. For fans, I can’t imagine anything better than what Furious 7 will deliver, for everyone else, there is not much here to see outside an absurdly ridiculous film that makes for a better unintentional comedy, than an action/crime/thriller.