Saturday, April 25, 2015

Furious 7 - Movie Review

Furious 7, directed by James Wan and written by Chris Morgan, is the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise. The movie features and all star cast including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Ronda Rousey, Djimon Hounsou, Lucas Black, and Nathalie Emmanuel.

The Story:
The movie basically picks up where Fast & Furious 6 left off and sees Jason Statham wreak havoc as Deckard Shaw, the older, bigger, and badder brother of the series' previous antagonist, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). After putting Agent Hobbs (Johnson) out of commission and blowing up Dom's (Diesel) house, Shaw has his sights set on taking out the entire crew that put his brother in the hospital so of course, Dom gets the band back together and, thanks to the help of a mysterious new shadow agent simply know as Mr. Nobody (Russell), the team sets their sites on getting a little payback of their own. What happens next is just your typical action movie stuff like driving cars out of airplanes, driving cars from the top of one skyscraper to another, and basically blowing up anything and everything possible.

The Review:
If you know anything at all about this franchise, then you should understand that these movies, like the one and only Marshawn Lynch, are all about that action and no expense is spared in putting stuff on the screen that we, as a movie going audience have never seen before. From the aforementioned car parachuting scene to watching the characters cheat death time and time again while doing the impossible, it's all about adrenaline fueled stunts and a never ending stream of gunfire and explosions. I was a little concerned that James Wan would be able to pull off a movie this big, but he really does a fin job in keeping up the traditions of the franchise.

Where Wan actually falls flat is during those rare moments when the characters are attempting to have real conversations. While the quality f acting should be graded on a curve given the cast and type of movie this is, there were still a ton of cringe worthy moments throughout. Pretty much any scene where Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are asked to get all emotional about their relationship ends up being cutting room floor material that never should have made it into the movie. I seriously haven't seen conversations this painful since Anakin and Padme. Again, none of the actors in this movie will be walking away with Oscars any time soon, but there needs to be a little more effort in giving them some quality direction during these calmer moments.

The other aspect of this movie that I struggled with was how the altered scenes and added story elements that are in place due to Mr. Walker's passing aren't as seemlessly integrated as one might have hoped. Sure, this must have been an extremely difficult task and I'm sure a ton of care and effort was out into these moments, it's still blatantly obvious when snippets of dialog are mixed into scenes to help change them from what was the original story to what we end up seeing on screen. There's a particular moment where Walker and Diesel are supposedly having a conversation about...something, but it's all generic dialog from Walker that Diesel has to play off of and it's just...weird. While the heartfelt sendoff of Brian as a character and the tribute to Walker as an actor in the series are nice, I felt like none of it really hit home.

A lot of people won't agree with me here, but I would have preferred less of this taking place in story and the final tribute being placed as a mid credits scene instead of tagged to the end of the actual story. It just seemed too obvious of an emotional grab when the camera lingers on Brian just a little longer than it should and there is just too much emphasis on everyone wanting him to leave the "life" and settle down. All of this had me wondering during every action sequence whether this would be the big moment or if he would carry on to eventually ride off into the sunset. I would have preferred to not have this "Is this the moment?" element to just about every scene but, again that's just me.

The Verdict:
Furious 7 is a really fun movie that has and will continue to rake in tons of cash at the box office. Sure, it has its flaws, which is no different from any big action blockbuster, and I am willing to forgive most of them. The key to the movie's success is just how much fun it is, from the truly spectacular action to pretty much every moment we get to see The Rock doing his thing. Thank you Mr. Walker for everything you gave to the franchise, you will always be a part of the Fast & Furious family.


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