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Review: Furious 7

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel star in Universal Pictures' "Furious 7"

After mourning the passing of Paul Walker, many fans of the Fast and Furious franchise were left wondering just how Furious 7 was going to handle his role and the film as a whole. It was already said that it would feature his two brothers as stand-ins in some scenes along with some CGI, but question marks were sure to remain until they actually got to see it for themselves. Along with that, there were also a bunch of other things that made everyone who was invested in the series speculate how it would all unfold.

Not only did many want to know about how they would handle Walker’s character in the film, but the question of how James Wan would perform as a director in his first action feature. To take over a franchise that Justin Lin took to great levels was clearly going to be a daunting task for just about anyone, but that could spell trouble for a person who’s spent essentially all of his time conjuring up frights in popular horror films like The Conjuring.

While Furious 7 was certainly expected to contain some new features because of the changes, all of the surviving characters from Fast 6 make a return. The events from that film also lead into this one as we find Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew of former outlaws doing their best to adjust to the world that they left behind after taking down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), an international villain who presented more danger than they ever did. After getting pardons for their services, everything seems to be calming down, but that’s not going to last for long.

The reason for the peace they found being disrupted comes in the form of Deckard (Jason Statham), a dangerous man out for vengeance. He’s the older brother of Owen Shaw, and he couldn’t sit back and accept hearing the news that a group of people took down his brother and his criminal enterprise. In order to get even with these guys, he pulls out all the stops and takes out one of their own.

This causes the gang in search of peace to band together again in order to not only stare into the face of danger, but to right what they see as an unforgivable wrong. After coming together, Dom, Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of the family are forced to travel the world to get their hands on the guy who is anxiously waiting for the moment to take all of them out once and for all.

Although they made the shift from almost exclusively focusing on cars over to insane action a few movies ago, the Fast and Furious series always kept the element of law enforcement as one of the central aspects of the films. While that’s still utilized in Furious 7 to some degree, this one feels much closer to a movie about super spies than a flick built around cops and robbers.

There’s a ton of high tech stuff going on that plays an important part of the films conclusion, and there’s also a larger element of sneaking around, going undercover and dealing with shadowy figures. You can also include Jason Statham’s character into that since he’s some kind of former covert agent from the U.K. who been out of sight for years until these recent events caused him to come out of hiding.

Another feature that’s changed in this series with Furious 7 is that pretty much everyone in the group knows martial arts now. I don’t know if they all took some classes or whatever, but with the exceptional of Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto, they all have a new set of diverse moves that allow them to all look like they have a bunch of blackbelts sitting in their closets at home. Mind you, I also need to point out that while Dom doesn’t show off any martial art skills of his own, he does have a new set of fighting skills as well, but I’m not going to get into that.

As more of these new features are included, it’s not a shock when you realize that any semblance of realism is completely gone. It’s moved so much, that it doesn’t even really seem like a Fast and Furious movie in some ways. Instead, it comes off as closer to something you may see in a G.I. Joe kind of movie. The characters are still the same, the tone is somewhat close to recent films in the franchise, but most of what’s left is more animated than any of its predecessors.

Even with that shift being clear right from the opening scene, this is a fun movie that simply hopes to be just that. If you’re looking to complain about anything, you can say that it’s a little on the cheesy side in terms of sentimentality and some of the acting, but there isn’t much to dislike outside of that. With this being the case, everything included in Furious 7 allows fans of this lengthy series to jump right in the driver’s seat of this action packed cinematic vehicle and embrace all of the entertainment that these movies are looking to offer.

For those wondering how they’re going to handle Paul Walker’s character, it’s safe to say they did it the right way. It was a tough situation that they found themselves in, but they knew they had to handle it in a way that was a respectable send off that had to be done properly. In that sense, I think they accomplished both. This also allows them to continue on with plans of a sequel, but if they choose not to, there’s enough here to allow the successful franchise to come to a close.

Rating: PG-13

Director: James Wan

Cast:
Vin Diesel
Paul Walker
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Michelle Rodriguez
Tyrese Gibson
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges
Jordana Brewster
Jason Statham
Kurt Russell
Djimon Hounsou
Nathalie Emmanuel
Elsa Pataky
Tony Jaa
Lucas Black
Ronda Rousey

Film Length: 137 minutes

Release Date: April 3, 2015

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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