How did we get to Fast & Furious 7? A franchise that started with essentially a Point Break remake, swap out skydiving and surfing for fast cars and they are identikit models, still shows no signs of running out of gas. Because rarely has their been a more cinematic guilty pleasure that it’s more than okay to admit to loving. For all its over-the-top ways, with each installment desperate to up the ante from the last, there is a simplicity to the Fast franchise; it’s kids playing at home with their HotWheels cars, making them do loop-the-loops on tiny tracks but done on a big budget Hollywood scale.
With Brian (Paul Walker) turning in his turbo charger for school runs in mini-vans it seems the days of being Fast & Furious are over for the team. But they are being hunted by a vengeful brother Dekker Shaw (Jason Statham). With Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital Dom (Vin Diesel) must turn to a shady government type in the form of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). So putting the band back together the team set off on a high-stakes mission to track down a computer device and its creator all the while trying to stay ahead of the ever-growing number of bad guys.
There is of course a very dark cloud hanging over Fast 7 in the form of star Paul Walker’s tragic death during production. It should be therefore noted, and applauded, that the film pays loving respect to their brother and refuses to give him anything but a heartfelt and genuinely moving send-off.
Of course before all that we have all out vehicular warfare to contend with. Because as with all the previous films Fast 7 is determined to be Mission: Impossible on wheels. So we have skydiving cars, cars jumping between and through buildings and a full on extravaganza of helicopters and drones vs. cars for a climax. It is, it goes without saying, utterly ridiculous and the most stupid fun you’re likely to have in cinemas this year.
Director James Wan, taking over from franchise regular Justin Lin, is more at home making horror films such as Saw and Insidious. At times it shows with the action sequences either trying to be a little too slick, cameras flip with people being flipped to induce real nausea, or occasionally hard to follow. That being said it’s hard to grumble when cars are crashing down mountains without a care in the world.
Script wise we’re in typical Fast & Furious territory; clunky dialogue that often makes you laugh at the sheer lunacy and delivery. Johnson seems to take dibs on most of these, his “Woman, I am the cavalry”, being a particular highlight, but Diesel is not averse to growling dialogue that sometimes feels like it needs more oil than the cars on display. But throughout there is a sense that this is intentional, that the quips and one-liners are in keeping with the muscle-bound Diesel, a hark back to Arnie and Sly in their pomp.
Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson continue to be a highlight as the team’s comedy relief, their back-and-forth, often at the expense of Gibson, is always a welcome distraction from the more somber delivery of others. If there is one complaint to be levied at Fast 7 it is its ability to waste the casting of Jason Statham. The end of Fast 6 promised so much, a tantlising prospect of The Transporter going up against The Fast & Furious team but he does little more than spectate from the sidelines of major set pieces. Sure, there are a couple of fights with The Rock and Diesel but both feel functional rather than fun. It feels like a missed opportunity to have Statham be a genuine foe to the gang.
Despite what Mr. Diesel might say Fast & Furious 7 isn’t going to trouble any awards ceremonies anytime soon. That being said if you liked what’s gone before there’s a lot to enjoy here most of all a fond farewell to Paul Walker who will always remain part of The Fast Family.