When it comes to movies, I’ve always been a sucker for explosions, and I’m not talking about the wimpy ones (I’m looking at you, Jaws: The Revenge). I’m talking about Pacific Rim, any Marvel or DC movie, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Terminator 2, V for Vendetta, and countless other sci-fi and action movies. Give me helicopter nose dives, grenades, missiles, pressurized gas tanks, and any automobile speeding off a cliff and I’ll be as happy as a clam. Luckily for me, Furious 7 has enough explosions to keep me content until The Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out in May. Although my father would argue that Furious 7 is too unrealistic to be considered as anything more than superficial entertainment, there are plenty of other aspects that make it a note-worthy film.
Furious 7 is the seventh movie in The Fast and the Furious franchise and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film stars an array of familiar faces from previous movies in the series, including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, and most notably, Paul Walker, who ironically died on November 30, 2013, in a car crash. The cast was half-way through filming the movie when Walker died, leaving Universal Pictures with a big dilemma. Fortunately, Walker’s younger brother, Cody, bore a strong enough resemblance to his late brother and was able to step in to finish the remaining scenes.
Knowing this fact beforehand, I kept a close eye on Paul/Cody. There were only a few times when I could notice the difference, and that’s only because I was looking for it. Anyone who doesn’t know about the brothers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, so I applaud Universal Pictures for rolling with the punches while honoring a great man.
Furious 7 follows the events from Tokyo Drift. Owen Shaw, who was put into a coma after the Toretto crew defeated him and his crew, has an older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who is hell-bent on revenge. The movie starts with a bang — a literal bang — as Deckard Shaw walks out of the burning and crumbling hospital (from his own doing) where his brother is being held. A fight between him and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) goes down, causing Hobbs to call in the Toretto crew for help. However, before Hobbs can get a hold of him, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) gets a phone call from Shaw, who has killed Han Lue (Sung Kang), one of Toretto’s crew members. Toretto then gets involved to avenge Han and the severely injured Hobbs. That is what I think is so funny about this movie; Shaw wants revenge on Toretto for hurting his brother, and Toretto wants revenge on Shaw for killing Lue.
To help Toretto track down Shaw, Frank Petty (Kurt Russell), leader of a covert ops group, offers him a hacking software called God’s Eye that has access to every camera, computer, phone, and any other device that uses wireless internet. But in order to use God’s Eye, Toretto has to rescue the creator of the hack, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), from a group of people that kidnapped him for the software.
After the most incredibly unrealistic stunt scene I have ever seen in a movie (hint: it involves military planes, high-speed cars, and parachutes), the Toretto crew narrowly avoids death from an ambush by Shaw and rescues the Ramsey — who turns out to be a beautiful young woman. But Ramsey tells them to get God’s Eye, they have to travel to Abu Dahbi and retrieve it from a friend. After the second most incredibly unrealistic stunt scene I have ever seen in a movie (hint: it involves more high-speed cars, a penthouse on the 130th floor, and three wrecked buildings), and another run in with Shaw, Toretto finally has God’s Eye in his hands.
With the use of the software, Toretto finds Shaw’s location and travels there with Petty and his team to confront him. However, Shaw tells Toretto, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and Toretto and the others are ambushed by the bad guys that originally kidnapped Ramsey. In the skirmish, Toretto loses God’s Eye, and it falls into the hands of Shaw and the kidnappers. The final fight of the film is an elaborate plan executed nowhere near perfectly, but all ends in a happy ending with Ramsey and God’s Eye safe and Shaw locked up in jail.
My favorite thing about this movie is the diversity of the personalities of the characters. Being a level-headed and (I like to think) smart person, I really relate to Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) as the voice of reason. Sure, he’s a womanizer and spotlight seeker, but at least he has enough common sense to stop and ask “is this really a smart idea?” He is easily relatable as a guy looking to enjoy his life to the fullest, but entirely human in showing his fear, an emotion that none of the other characters seem to possess. As a teenage girl used to men hogging the lead roles in an action movie, I also really appreciated the strong female characters: Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Whether it’s staying on the sidelines to protect your son while your husband is off risking his life, or fighting with knives and guns against a Middle Eastern bodyguard while also looking great in a ball gown, these girls show that strength comes in many different forms and you should never doubt it.
Also, kudos to Universal Pictures for breaking the hacker gender stereotype.
Finally, in the last scene of the film, it was obvious that it was all one huge tribute to Paul Walker. As Toretto leaves his crew at the beach, he is stopped at an intersection, only to have Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) drive up beside him. Just like old times, they race down the road together. As they do so, Toretto reflects on his journeys with O’Connor, narrating about how he considers him a brother and family, and having clips shown from previous movies in one big montage. I will honestly say my chest tightened as I listened to Toretto and watched the clips go by. You can just tell, you know that Toretto isn’t Toretto, and O’Connor isn’t O’Connor. It is obvious that it’s Diesel being himself, not playing a character, and giving one last send-off to his friend. Walker and Diesel break away and go down separate paths, with the emphasis on Walker driving off into the distance. The movie ends with a final card shown saying “For Paul.”
All in all, I was pleased with the characters and cinematic special effects, along with the stunts and near-death fights. Take it for what it is, an entertaining film with plenty of action and adventure, or read into it deeper. Whichever way you choose to watch it, I highly suggest you do.