I must be honest and admit I have never been a particular fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. I’ve seen the others, and they all seem to blend into one another. However – and with apologies for being somewhat late in this review – if you are a fan of the series, Fast & Furious 7 should tick all the appropriate boxes. Furthermore, it has added and obvious poignancy in the wake of Paul Walker’s death, but more on that in a moment.
Director James Wan crafts a plot derived from the usual nonsensical elements, throwing in the regulation crunchy fights and increasingly ludicrous car chases. Quite honestly I can barely be bothered to explain the details (something to do with Jason Statham wanting revenge on Vin Diesel and his crew, complicated by Kurt Russell’s shadowy government agent wanting to use them to take out a Somali terrorist).
My issue with this series has always been my inability to suspend disbelief and therefore to emotionally engage. Don’t get me wrong, I love action movies. But I prefer them to feel more grounded, for the violence to feel dangerous, to actually worry for the safety of the protagonist(s). The Fast and Furious series has hitherto – hitherto mark you – failed to engage me in this respect, in spite of the undoubted technical skills involved in putting together the truly spectacular onscreen stunts.
Yet this time, the performances – from afore-mentioned series regular Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez and obviously Paul Walker – feel that bit more committed. Perhaps it is for this reason that the finale actually feels quite tear-jerking. All that stuff about the importance of family and friendship hasn’t just been tagged on for this film, it has been in the series from the beginning. Therefore, this time, there is a surprisingly strong emotional pay-off, and a memorable final shot that qualifies as actual, proper, artistic filmmaking. Heck, it almost borders on subtle – not a word you expect to hear in a Fast and Furious review.
But rest assured, in spite of the final moments, Fast & Furious 7 is, for the most part, the usual numbing orgy of vehicular carnage.
Simon Dillon, May 2015.