MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Furious 7’ Has Everything Franchise Fans Want (And More)

Furious-7-Review

Film: Furious 7
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
Directed by: James Wan

Exhibiting a near-perfect mix of insane action sequences and emotional depth, Furious 7 proves there is still a lot of fuel in the Fast & Furious franchise.

We begin right where we left off. Having abandoned this universe after the reality-shredding plane chase and fight sequence that served as the finale of the last film, Furious 7 opens with Owen Shaw and his brother, Deckard, speaking in a hospital. It’s a brief and overtly straightforward conversation in which one brother asks the other who hurt him for the sole purpose of swearing vengeance on Dom and his crew. It’s not long, but it’s all we are given to understand who Deckard Shaw is and why he will spend the next two-plus hours trying to kill the franchise leads. For some films that might not be enough information, or at least not enough to satisfy moviegoers, but in the case of the Fast & Furious series it’s literally the only information we need.

As for the crew, we first find Dom and Letty as they are tearing through a desert landscape on the way to a street racing rally Dom claims to have invented. Within moments we are back in the world of muscle cars, scantily clad women, and macho attitudes that first gave the franchise life. It’s not a necessary sequence by any means, but it does let viewers know the series has not lost touch with its roots. It’s also the most tame action sequence of the entire film by a large margin, serving as something like an appetizer intended to familiarize the viewer’s palette without giving away the surprises that lie ahead.

Brian, who is still married to Dom’s sister Mia, is settling into life as a father. Actually, he’s trying his best to do that, but in reality he’s missing the bullets and collisions that have driven his life over the last decade. His now-tame existence bores him, though that fact is something he tries to keep to himself.

The death of Hahn, which most viewers witnessed at the end of Fast & Furious 6, reunites the full cast of main characters shortly after Deckard Shaw makes his identity and desires known. It’s a somber sequence that occurs roughly twenty minutes into the film, and from that point forward Furious 7 plays like a sequence of shotgun blasts to the child-like corner of everyone’s heart and mind that just wants to escape the terrors of reality for a short while. Physics are thrown out the window, just like cars out of air carriers, and most logic is shoved under a rug. If that is okay with you, then Furious 7 will wow you in ways no movie has ever even attempted.

It’s clear from the opening moments of Furious 7 that James Wan is not Justin Lin. There are similarities in how the two filmmakers choose to shoot certain sequences, but Wan’s approach feels far more raw than anything Lin presented in recent franchise entries. This may be due to Wan’s history of making movie magic happen on a shoestring budget, like what he accomplished with the majority of horror films he has made, or it may be the combination of those skills with a budget far larger than anything he’s previously had at his disposal. Whatever the case, there are several undeniable changes to the look and feel of the Fast universe, but none of them ever take you out of the experience. There may be an adjustment period for some, but once the crew reunites and action starts occurring every ten or fifteen minutes the film finds a groove as good as any in franchise history.

There is a lot I wish I could tell you about Furious 7, but to do so would rob you of a rare chance to be truly surprised by a summer movie. The trailers for this film have spoiled a few key sequences, but believe me when I say the finale of Furious 7 contains more crazy, over-the-top action and explosions that some films have in their entire runtime. James Wan has stepped into Lin’s gigantic shoes and proven he can hold his own with a blockbuster franchise without sacrificing his signature style. More importantly, he’s delivered a thrilling and unforgettable moviegoing experience that bids fitting farewell to Paul Walker while never letting the events surrounding his death overshadow a single frame of his film. This will almost certainly be the first film many see during the 2015 summer movie season, but it may also be the best sequel they see all year.

If this franchise never dies I won’t complain. Bring on Furious 8!

GRADE: A-

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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