STARRING: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Jason Statham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou and Kurt Russell
Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.
After the events of London and dealing with Owen Shaw, unfortunately for Dominic Toretto and his crew, Owen’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out for revenge and what they did to his brother, hunting them one by one. Not only are they being hunted, a shady government official called ‘Mr Nobody’ is looking to use Dom and his crew to rescue a hacker called Ramsey from evil terrorist Jakande. The reason for saving Ramsey? She’s created a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, which can turn any technological device into a tracking device and Mr Nobody doesn’t want the technology falling into the wrong hands which will take them from Tokyo, the Dominican Republic, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles.
So here we are, the seventh (SEVENTH!) instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise and this time Justin Lin has stepped down for this one and James Wan has come on board to direct. The premise follows up from the sixth instalment with an outrageous opening introducing Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, further cementing that the franchise now resembles a live action cartoon filled with 90’s one liners. People question why the franchise is doing so well critically and in terms of box office, especially the last few instalments, believing that if you had Michael Bay stamped on the directorial duties it’ll be hated just the same. The reason being that behind the car scenes, the ridiculous definements of gravity and survival and the booms is that the film has heart and cares about their characters. The chemistry amongst the cast that have been together for a number of years now further cements the fact that you’d believe that they are one big family, jokes and Dom’s ‘family’ deliveries and all (someday when it’s all over, it’ll be interesting to see how many times Vin has had to say ‘family’ throughout the franchise…it’ll at least come to ten minutes of footage I reckon).
The set-pieces here just get more ridiculous (more so than taking down a plane in the last one) from having cars drop out of planes leading to saving Ramsey that’s help captive on a bus in a twenty minute sequence of mayhem, to the car jumping buildings in Abu Dhabi and yet the final act takes it to a whole other level that when it comes to Furious 8, you really question where they can go now. Besides the revenge plot and God’s Eye plot, the film deals also with Brian/Mia and Dom/Letty arcs here, such as Mia is afraid Brian will hate domestic life after everything they’ve been through and Letty having to come to terms with her memory loss and find her own way rather than rely on Dom’s memories. These two particular plots are handled the best in comparison to Deckard Shaw and God’s Eye, with Statham in fine Stath form as Deckard Shaw, that’s basically the franchises answer to The Terminator, appearing out of the blue at the worst possible time for our heroes, no matter the location but even he’s been trimmed down on appearance time here (in my opinion) and the God’s Eye plot I didn’t really care for though it introduced us to the government official Mr. Nobody, played by Kurt Russell who just chews the scenery up whenever he appears and even he unleashes some badass action, taking me back to the 80’s Kurt era. I hope that Mr Nobody makes an appearance in the next one. Another person who’s appearance has been cut short is surprisingly The Rock and at times his presence and charisma is missed on screen in certain scenes. Nathalie Emmanuel holds her own and doesn’t come across out of place in amongst the family dynamic, though secondary villains Tony Jaa and Djimon Hounsou are exactly that, which is a same considering Jaa’s talent for fight sequences which are, to me anyway, wasted in the overall cuts of the edit of the fight scenes where as Djimon Hounsou is just wasted in general considering his talent.
James Wan does a great job replacing Justin Lin for this instalment and captures the motto of the Furious franchise, even though in some of the action sequences, most notably the fist-to-fist bouts, the cuts are too rapid in my opinion in comparison to previous instalments, most notably involving Kiet/O’Conner and then the final showdown of Dom/Shaw involving car wrenches. The big question whoever, which I’ve left to last, that was on everyone’s mind was how they were going to handle Paul Walker’s character after his untimely death and Wan, Deisel and company have handled it perfectly in my view, with a beautiful sendoff for his character after completing his remaining scenes via body doubles, including his brothers Caleb and Cody, with some digital trickery. His spirit in certain scenes just haunt the film but the ‘For Paul’ farewell sequence at the end couldn’t have been handled any better, with a few people at the midnight screening getting choked up at the end of it.
The live action cartoon style of the Fast & Furious franchise continues with truly ridiculous set-pieces that are still viewed in a fun and enjoyably way, with a perfect farewell to not only Brian O’Conner but to Paul Walker. Still prefer Fast Five & Furious 6 though with the rewrites and untimely death of Walker, it’s understandable but still plenty of fun to be had here. 7/10