Fast & Furious 7
In case you thought we didn’t need another Fast & Furious movie, particularly after the laughable London escapades of the last one – because, honestly, how many times can you shoot a street race with straight-faced drivers, burning rubber and long-legged lasses until it gets tired? – well, how wrong you were.
Vin Diesel and his crew are back, this time fighting the avenging brother of Fast & Furious 6’s victim who is played by a typically po-faced Jason Statham whom we meet leaving an hilarious trail of destruction in his angry wake. Deckard Shaw (great name!) is a “legitimate English bad-ass” with boundless energy and a Terminator-like tenacity, who duly travels to several ends of the Earth in pursuit of Diesel’s Toretto and his pals, to even the score.
The relatively young and undeniably talented James Wan has taken the directorial reins for number seven, his first comparatively benign movie in a career of torture porn and supernatural horror (we have him to thank/blame for Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring). With Furious 7 he delivers thrills in spades, bouncing the gang across the globe from London to LA to Abu Dhabi in an action movie which is more Mission Impossible than petrol-head. Wan alternates the franchise’s signature car chases with brutal fights amidst revolving camerawork, including a Bechdel-approved all-female bash-up. There is an exhilarating race across unbarriered clifftops, a new take on skydiving and an incredibly well-executed rescue mission which is financed by the obligatory “old man comeback” character, (here played by a craggy Kurt Russell).
The usual suspects are all present and accounted for, although as the death scenes kick off early in the movie there is much foreshadowing of “Just no more funerals, OK?” as Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ludacris reprise their roles from the previous films. Proving his intelligence quotient, Wan has also cast Oscar-nominated Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator) as the baddy who is out to control the world (because one guy avenging his brother’s death isn’t enough for one movie).
But viewers will be mostly watching Paul Walker, looking for cracks in the wallpapering that was inevitable following his tragic death mid-production (not on set, but still ironically in a car accident).
Well, the cover-up is seamless, thanks to Walker’s brothers having body-doubled some scenes and our very own Weta Digital believed to have composited the late actor’s face into shots. Furthermore, the movie manages to address his future absence in a surprisingly appropriate and moving fashion.
Two years ago, the Fast franchise looked like it might have stalled. Now, it’s echoing James Bond with its renewed vigour and cinematic panache. Let’s hope they keep Wan in the driver’s seat for number eight.