Fast cars and beautiful women. Gunfights in exotic locales. You could be talking of any one of half a dozen franchises: Mission: Impossible, James Bond. They all offer similar thrills and spills, albeit in hugely different styles. In recent years, however, the Fast & Furious franchise has overtaken them all.
With seven films in the tank and more than two billion in the bank, it’s hard to deny the sheer size of the thing. It’s getting its own ride at Universal Studios. Helen Mirren, of all people, wants to be in the next one. For now, though, we have Jason Statham in the villain’s seat and, disappearing in the rear-view mirror, the late Paul Walker.
Picking up where the last film left off, Furious 7 wastes no time in reintroducing us to Deckard Shaw (Statham), a certifiable bad-ass who wipes out a SWAT team to visit his brother in the hospital. That done, he turns his attentions to the Toretto crew. Explosions happen, and soon enough Vin Diesel and co. are on the offensive. Following this, sadly, Deckard more or less vanishes from the film till the final showdown, except for when the plot requires his presence.
Cue Kurt Russell as too-cool CIA agent Frank Petty and a plot-driving MacGuffin know as the God’s eye. Love interest Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) has amnesia – seriously – and Dominic Toretto nearly takes a sledgehammer to her tombstone – long story. The rest of the crew are mostly there to provide banter and keep things moving to one degree or another.
Musclebound lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is quickly sidelined but there are more than enough brawlers left to keep things ticking over. There are cars parachuting onto mountain-tops on rescue mission or leaping between skyscrapers during tech thefts; lots of cars. James Wan’s direction is suitably sweeping and jittering; more than once the camera literally rolls over. Chris Morgan’s script is suitably half-baked – it’s the type of film where you’re unlikely to remember a single line of dialogue. Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey drop in; Djimon Hounsou is wasted as the reserve villain.
The film is brash and bold, and, at 134 minutes, a touch bloated. In IMAX the whole experience is almost nauseating, a little overwhelming. What Furious 7 gets perfectly right is its fond farewell to Paul Walker; if you’re a fan, tears are probable. As experiences go, this is pretty much more of the same, but that’s no bad thing. Depends on your mileage.