“Furious 7” continues to live in a world of its own

“Furious 7” is…whatever. It’s fast cars, bald or almost bald men, girls in as little clothing as PG-13 will allow all wrapped up in an incoherent jumble that will make die-hard fans squeal with joy and everyone else groan. So basically it’s another “Fast and Furious” movie.

In the seventh of the long-running franchise the team lead by Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his muscle-shirts is pitted against the also bald Jason Statham whose out for revenge. This leads them to places like Dubai and other countries where it seems like women are only legally allowed to wear bikinis.

The cars are louder than ever before as they are dropped from planes, rocketed from building to building and crashed into one another in such an over-the-top, ridiculous and bombastic way I was surprised Michael Bay’s name wasn’t attached to the director credit.

Seriously, not a single action scene is treated with grace or practicality. Everything from one-on-one fights to half of L.A. being demolished is shot with too many camera angles and a bombardment of cheap visual effects. A franchise that use to be just heist thrillers on expensive cars is now “Transformers” without the robots—unless you count Diesel.

Now I know it’s mute to dissect the plot of a “Furious” movie, but this one has to be the most ludicrous of the bunch. A baddie called Deckard Shaw (Statham) is hunting the team for hurting his brother or something and in revenge he tries to kill Toretto and his friends, or as he refers to a million times as his family.

But in order to get to him they need to do a favor for a big government hot-shot in Kurt Russell. So they globe-trot looking for some computer chip which results in massive explosions and destruction of any standing structure nearby.

I say it’s ludicrous because all of it, every second, is pointless. They are all doing these things to “find” Shaw, even though wherever they go he always shows up out of the blue, as if he knew they would be there. I can’t tell you how many times they could’ve dropped what they were doing and shot him or run him off the road. If they wanted to find him they could’ve saved billion in property damage by just hanging out and playing Monopoly because Shaw would’ve eventually just showed up with a disgustingly huge gun.

Furthermore, the excuse behind it all is “one last ride”, which I am sad to say felt like a cheap marketing ploy after the tragic death of star Paul Walker. Nothing about the film implies a “last ride”. Characters are given no depth, there is no sense of looming resolution and everyone is just so slick and cool that they never seem to be in legitimate peril. The movie always feels like just another entry in the saga.

Sure there is one brief scene where Toretto and Brian (Walker) have a heart-to-heart, wherein Toretto tells Brian that true bravery would be for him to go back to his wife and kids and leave this thrilling life behind.

But then they all go back to shooting and driving and even let Walker jump out of a moving car and go along when Toretto crashing a car through not one, but three buildings. Sure Toretto meant he should leave the life behind, but he didn’t actually try to make him. I mean, they need at least one guy with hair on the team, right?

Then there was the much talked about ending that I’m sure left many in tears as it paid tribute to Walker. It was sweet, not emotional and full-circle like “Deathly Hallows” or “Return of the King”, though. Think an extended In Memorial segment at the Oscars. Nor does it fit the story, but hey what do you expect them to do?

I’m sure this all seems negative, and for the most part it is. Though these movies are huge this never felt more than a been-there-done-that on steroids one-off for me. But I was occasionally entertained, mostly when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson proved to be the only one treating all the chaos with a sense of tongue-in-cheek (all with his criminally underused 20 minutes of screen time).

But like many franchises that have lasted this long I can only say fans will love every moment, and non-fans will be unconvinced even though I’m sure they are still going for some social obligation to Walker. This movie changes nothing about the world it lives in or the sequel that will surely follow (face it, its true)—and for some that’s just the way they want it.

GRADE: C

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