BR: Furious 7 (2015)

January 7, 2016 | By


Furious7Film: Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Universal

Region: All

Released:  September 15, 2015

Genre:  Action

Synopsis: The street-savvy rebels are trotting the globe again, evading the vengeful rage of Deckard Shaw.

Special Features:  9 Making-of Featurettes: “Talking Fast” (31:46) + “Back to the Starting Line” (12:09_ + “Flying Cars” (5:41) + “Snatch and Grab” (7:31) + “Tower Jumps” (6:52) + “Inside the Fight” (11 mins.) + “The Cars of Furious” (10:41) + “Race Wars” (6:34) + “Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride” (8:14) / 4 Deleted Scenes (6 mins.) / Music Video (4:04).





When co-star Paul Walker was killed in a freak car crash in 2013, the production of Furious 7 was put in jeopardy, but after reworking the script and hiring Walker’s brother to act as a stand-in, what emerges is a surprisingly coherent performance that doesn’t suffer from dropped scenes largely due to screen time being shared with such a massive cast.

Each sequel initially brought forth a new cast of characters, but in Fast Five (2011), everyone was gathered for a narrative that clearly upgraded the characters into James Bond antiheroes, capable of elaborate scams and thefts in exotic international locations and able to thwart beefy government agents sent to taken them down.

Furious 6 (2013) pushed the franchise into the realm of the ridiculous, transforming the teams into gravity-defying cartoon figures impossible to kill (well, maybe one had to die…), and able to bounce off steel surfaces without even a purple bruise. Furious 7 builds on that bizarre mythos, and while the film should fall flat on its face, James Wan’s decision to film everything at a higher frame rate with fast cuts at every turn transforms Walker’s career swan song into a weirdly hypnotic smashfest.

There’s no story beyond Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) ‘hunting’ surviving team members around the globe, and none of the twists and turns have the gravitas of even a cheaply written pulp novel, but at 140 mins. in its extended cut edition, Furious 7 functions as cacophonous eye and ear candy, which may be the only reason to watch this mess. It’s not a disappointment – the franchise long ago drifted away from any semblance of its street-level reality – nor a creative triumph in post-production, and no characters are deepened in spite of team patriarch Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) spouting words like “family” and “respect” every 30 minutes, but it’s ultimately a fitting tribute to Walker’s character who ultimately settles downs in time for the birth of his second child with Mia, and letting his teammates move on to either enjoy further adventures, or just disappear into the ether of a nitrous cloud with whatever stash of cash they’ve hidden from prior adventures and heists.

Furious 7’s most immediate antecedent isn’t its predecessor, but Michael Bay’s Bad Boys 2 (2003), another bloated sequel to a much shorter original hit that similarly used crisp, stylist visuals and fast edits to push along a wafer-thin storyline that justifies one epic action sequence after another.

Wan’s handling of the first hour is fun – there’s a unique beauty to the candy colours and porous details of each sharply edited shot, but eventually the beloved characters start to wear even thinner when it’s clear there’s another hour  to go, with more globe-trotting and preposterous acts of survival. Any semblance of practical stunts are gone; this is a massively CGI-heavy production that relies on the wonders of animators than stunt coordinators, and the only memorable moment comes from Tony Jaa whose quip “Too slow” is returned in a great moment of pristine payback an hour or more later.

None of the dialogue is memorable, newcomers Jaa and Kurt Russell are really in the mix as stunt casting. The amnesia that plagues Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) was longer, but those deleted moments (archived in a separate gallery) are dull and almost wordless, feeling like roughly drafted scenes where the actress was told to look concerned, puzzled, and mystified as she wanders around, intercut with flashing echoes of her past life with Toretto’s ‘family’ of friends and former foes.

Brian Tyler’s score hits the marks, but with so much same-styled cacophony littering the screen, there’s no need to craft any new material or attempt a dynamic cue.

How and where Universal will take the franchise is a mystery, because the only way for it to truly survive is to do what Toretto states prior to the final battle: take it back to the streets of L.A., where the characters are human, and family ties stay real because they’re not being strained in a building-to-building chase in a three-tower complex in Abu Dhabi like a Road Runner cartoon.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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