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Wan's Direction, Walker's Last Film Highlight Furious 7

Wan's Direction, Walker's Last Film Highlight <i>Furious 7</i>

DVD Release Date: September 15, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: April 3, 2015
Rating: PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language 
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
Run Time: 137 minutes
Director: James Wan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson

"This right here takes crazy to a whole 'nother level." Roman (Tyrese Gibson, Black Nativity) wasn't exactly talking about this latest installment in the Fast & Furious franchise, but he could have been. As you enter the theater, prepare to leave reality, the laws of physics, and basic common sense behind. But don't worry, you won't miss them; you'll be too busy enjoying this wild ride of a movie.

In his F&F directorial debut, James Wan (The Conjuring) reaches new heights... literally... sending vehicles where no muscle cars have gone before. Wan delivers both eye-popping action and heart-tugging emotion. The camera spins and dives in dizzying fashion, especially during fight scenes, until the audience—like the combatants—can barely tell which way is up. Fortunately for viewers with weak stomachs, that particular trick is not overdone. Wan also captures the movie's softer side: love of family, loyalty to friends, and confidence that the rest of your crew always has your back.

When last we saw Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel, Riddick) and his crew (in Furious 6) they had just defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and were ready to settle down for a little peace and quiet. Like that’s going to happen: turns out Shaw had an older brother, Deckard (Jason Statham, Homefront) and he is out for revenge. As if that wasn't enough there's a creepy computer program called "God's Eye" that can find anybody anywhere. Both a terrorist and a mysterious secret agent called "Mr. Nobody" (Kurt Russell, Miracle) are hot on the trail of the program and the hacker who created it. So basically, Torretto and his crew have to steal the hacker and the program while avoiding a vengeful brother with mad assassin skills, all in order to save the world as we know it. It's not the most believable of stories but it is a great set up to smash things (vehicles, buildings, priceless works of art), punch things (villains of both sexes, mostly), blow up things (too many to count), and generally wreak havoc in picturesque spots around the globe.

Several members of the crew were killed off in F6 but many favorites are back: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Hercules) has few lines but plenty of opportunity to show off his ripped muscles. Tej (Ludacris, No Strings Attached) and Roman are their usual wisecracking selves. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, Turbo) is back, although her memory isn't, quite. Mia (Jordana Brewster) is settling into motherhood nicely. And of course, this buddy movie would not be complete without Torretto’s best friend, Brian O’Connor (the late Paul Walker).

There's a certain poignancy in knowing this was Walker's last film. Readers likely remember that he died in a car crash about halfway through filming, although the crash was unrelated to the movie. A combination of rewrites, CGI, and the use of doubles—including two of Walker's brothers—allowed the studio to finish the film. It works. There's a touching homage to Walker at the end of the film that sent more than one moviegoer out of the theater with a tear in their eye.

It would be remiss not to pay tribute to the sound design, a symphony of roaring engines that alternate with moments of hold-your-breath silence before crashing back into a cacophony of, well, cars crashing. The juxtaposition of listening to birds singing sweetly in the trees while watching cars flying headlong into those same trees is mighty effective.

Speaking of cars and flying, Furious 7 is not for those with a fear of heights. If you've seen the trailer you know some of the ridiculous (but awesome) heights the drivers go to; watching those and more on a big screen is almost queasy-making.

Oh sure, there are holes in the plot big enough for all those fancy cars to drive through side-by-side. But who cares? This is about explosions, fighting, fun, fast cars—and heart. "Everyone’s looking for a thrill," Torretto says, "but what's real is family." His "family" provides plenty of thrills in Furious 7. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Alcohol served at a party; several characters shown drinking; an ongoing discussion of the merits of beer.
  • Language/Profanity: All the usual words make an appearance but none come around often. A**’ boll***s (British anatomical reference); basta**; bit**; sumbi***; sh**; God da**; in a painful attempt at comedy a man says a woman has “missiles” under her dress
  • Violence: Houses (and cars and buildings) blow up; people fall down—sometimes from great heights; cars crash; punches are thrown; shots fired; people die. It’s beautifully filmed and not as horrifying as it could—and maybe should—be.
  • Sex/Nudity: The camera likes to linger lovingly on women in bikinis and scanty clothing, including a number of close-ups on cleavage and almost-bare bottoms. Some suggestive dancing. Man says he is “aroused” by a car. Several kisses, but they’re more sweet than anything. Reference to having sex “at prom.” A threat includes “he’ll wish his mama had kept her legs closed.” Two men try to call “dibs” on a woman and refer to her as “that” before a third man tells them his attempts ended with her knee in “my balls.”

Publication date: April 3, 2015