Furious 7 Runs Out of Gas

If you would have told me back in 2001, that the new high-octane muscle car movie, The Fast and the Furious, would spawn an additional six films and create a highly successful movie franchise- I would have thought you were crazy. Nonetheless, here we are and with the seventh installment- the Furious franchise has never been more popular and successful, and more likely than not this trend will only continue. Die-hard fans and even causal fans of this franchise will be lining up to see this movie, and most of them if not all of them will absolutely love how this film turned out. However, for the rest of us, we are probably thinking that this franchise has already reached its peak and Furious 7 is the first sign of a downward spiral.

Paul Walker in Furious 7

Paul Walker in Furious 7

Furious 7 sees the return of all of the familiar faces this time mixed in with a couple of new faces (Kurt Russell & Jason Statham) showing up in places around the world. The Furious gang that we all came to love is in the midst of a global war thanks to the prowess of Deckard Shaw (Statham) who vows to get revenge on the gang because they defeated his brother Owen. In the middle of this personal war comes another terrorist named Jakarde (Dijmon Hounsou) and a government official, Mr. “Nobody’ (Russell), who are both after a computer program that can turn every mobile device into a weapon. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang gets drawn into this battle hoping that retrieving the program can finally put a stop to Shaw and the global terrorists.

Look, I will be honest with you right now. It is somewhat difficult if not a little frustrating to try and write a review for a seventh film of a franchise that mostly follows the same basic plot elements, and contains incredible, exaggerated stunts. That is not to say that I am being dismissive of The Furious franchise. In fact, I have enjoyed most of their films, but by now we all should know what to expect from this film. In return, Furious 7 exactly knows what type of film it wants to be and knows what type of goods it needs to deliver. We still have all of the physics-defying car stunts, a handful of hard-hitting fight sequences, memorable/borderline campy one-liners, and a plot that barely holds everything together. If it is even possible, Furious 7 is like all of the previous six Furious film combined and injected with steroids. Every aspect of this franchise is taken to the extreme and it never lets the foot off the gas. It still is a ‘fun’ film, but to fully enjoy it one must simply put his or her mind in cruise control and just let the ridiculously dumb pass you by.

With that being said, Furious 7 manages to bring more lows than highs. I have no problem in believing in the unbelievable in films. Some of the most unbelievable moments in film are the best part of cinema; however, when every single scene is challenging your suspension of disbelief there is going to be some sort of a problem. With Furious 7, every scene has some sort of ridiculous stunt at the forefront. It starts off as fun but shortly becomes mind-numbing. All of the high-stakes, awe-inspiring stunts and risks the gang pulls off eventually becomes ordinary. By midway through, the film is already redundant, unoriginal, and boring. Most importantly, the ‘exciting moments’ are hurt by the  lazy writing because at the end all of these stunts and action doesn’t add up to anything worthwhile. Another painful low of this film is the use or misuse of the characters. Vin Diesel is robotic and unassuming in the role and is the most campy we have ever seen him. They basically turn Dom into a superhero who is invincible but unfortunately Diesel is better suited playing Groot than he is this character. Arguably the most exciting part of the film is Statham and  Dwayne Johnson. The only problem is that by the end Statham just becomes a caricatures of all of his Englishmen tough guy characters, and Johnson is not in it enough. When he is not on the screen, it drastically hurts the film.

The biggest and most notable change to this newest edition to the saga is found in the director’s chair. Taking over for Justin Lin, who directed the last Furious film, is the present day horror maestro James Wan. This new pairing is certainly unique, and for the most part Wan does add his distinctive style to the most memorable moments of the film. He adds a fresh take at filming the hand to hand combat scenes and adds great sincerity to the family moments of the film that has always been a part of this franchise. Unfortunately, Wan loses his slow burning, suspenseful style in favor of generic blockbuster tropes. However, the best of this film and what truly saves this film from being a complete failure is how well they handled the passing of Paul Walker. The ending is a beautiful send off to a wonderful person who meant a lot to a lot of people. The ending is a truly poignant, genuine moment. After all of the loud, outrageous aspects of the film, it ends on a tender moment that is the most thoughtful, touching farewell you can see.

Furious 7 will be enjoyed by all of the true fans of the series, but for the rest of us it is too absurd for its own good. It is an exhausting experience that doesn’t hold together well and finally shows signs that this franchise has run out of gas.

1 out of 4 stars

-By Louie Coruzzolo

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:

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