Fast & Furious 7 is suffering from franchise fatigue. The series has so many characters and dangling plot threads at this point that almost nothing about it makes sense anymore. But damn if it isn’t cool as all hell.”
There’s a real sense of familiarity in the opening act. It won’t work for you if you don’t already enjoy the franchise but still, the cast have an ease in their roles and good chemistry, or maybe camaraderie is a better word. It’s like a faster paced, more action packed Expendables – where the cast are actually charming and likeable and nobody seems to be jockeying for screentime.
They get some free drama out of the fact that Paul Walker is no longer with us. Scenes that are almost carbon copied from previous iterations of the franchise come across more weighty and emotional due to the fact we know Walker’s Bryan O’Connor is leaving this story, one way or the other. But rather than feeling cheap, it has the effect of adding some much needed tension to all the spectacle.
Unfortunately, a simple revenge story apparently wasn’t enough for the producers on this one. After watching Jason Statham sleepwalk through his effortlessly badass hardchaw routine, butting heads with the series’ heavy hitters, for the first act, we spend the second act getting acquainted with a whole other mess of crazy in the form of Kurt Russell and his vaguely Jason Bourne-esque subplot about omnipresent transnational surveillance software and a British hacker named Ramsey. Seriously.
What could have been a straightforward ‘Us Vs. Them’ plot with Vin Diesel and his crew taking on Jason Statham’s big-bad-brother-of-the-previous-bad-guy character becomes a convoluted jumble of lowbrow action flick and complex international espionage thriller. But let’s face it: coherent narrative, satisfying character development and emotional impact are not what draw audiences to this franchise. It’s all about the action. And the action in this movie is so outlandishly implausible yet at the same time exhilarating that you can’t help but get swept along. The paradrop sequence from the trailer is a particular treat, managing to simultaneously bring the franchise back to its stunt-driving roots while highlighting just how far off the reservation they’ve gone since then.
Every time you see a Fast & Furious movie now, you’d think there’s just no way they can top that ludicrously over-the-top sequence they pulled in the previous film, only to be blown away by just how utterly insane this franchise is willing to get. F&F7 is no exception. It’s a mind-bogglingly OTT thrill ride from what seems like the mind of a psychotic teenager with ADHD hopped up on Red Bull and Monster. But somehow it still manages to find a touching and relatively tender way to say goodbye to its star, Paul Walker.