Furious 7 takes insanity to the next level with incredible action sequences as well as impressive stunt work to go along with seeing characters I’ve come to care about since the beginning. No doubt the loss of Paul Walker weighed heavily on the cast and crew and one must give kudos for getting it done.
Genre(s): Action, Crime
Universal Studios | PG13 / Unrated – 138 min. / 140 min. – $34.98 | September 15, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
There’s something to be said for a movie that not only knows what it is but embraces it and then some. Furious 7 doesn’t pretend to be high art and instead tries to outdo the stunts, insane as they were, from the previous installments and multiply it by 20 fold for good measure. Furious 7 makes little sense and compared with the others isn’t quite as good as Fast Five or even Fast & Furious 6 and yet I couldn’t help but be both entertaining not to mention a tad of emotion due to the passing of star Paul Walker, seeing him in his final performance (even partial with the use of doubles).
The plot opens with all-around bad ass Deckard Shaw (JASON STATHAM) vowing vengeance on those who put little bro Owen (LUKE EVANS) in the hospital in a deep coma; which means Owen could mark his return later. We get a cool one-shot opening sequence as we see Deckard has dispensed of a squad of Special Forces proving he is a man to be reckoned with. This isn’t to mention that, as seen at the end of Fast & Furious 6, he has killed Han (SUNG KANG) in the car crash seen in Tokyo Drift, thus bringing the franchise back to present day… or thereabouts.
Stateside, Brian O’Conner (PAUL WALKER) is dealing with domestic life, taking his son to school which concerns wife Mia (JORDANA BREWSTER) realizing he misses the bullets and fears she’s suffocating him with this life. For Dominic Toretto (VIN DIESEL), he and longtime girlfriend Letty (MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ) are still dealing with her memory loss though it would seem those memories are coming back in a flurry where she decides to take off to be by herself…
After the crew attend Han’s funeral, with a short scene in Tokyo tying one last loose end from TD featuring a cameo by Lucas Black reprising his role as Sean Boswell nearly a decade later, Dominic discovers Deckard is in town and thus a chase through the streets of L.A. ensues culminating with a game of chicken where neither driver swerves. Just as Deckard is about to kill Dominic, since as he says he’s not playing games, in swoop in an army of Special Forces soldiers led by a man we know only as Mr. Nobody (KURT RUSSELL).
Nobody makes Dominic an offer: retrieve a hacker named Ramsey (NATHALIE EMANUEL) who has created a program called “God’s Eye,” think of it as “The Machine” from “Person of Interest” able to track anybody, anywhere. This program is being sought by an international terrorist (DJIMON HOUNDSOU) as well as the U.S. government, thus Nobody’s proposal to get “God’s Eye” and Dom and his crew can get Deckard.
What follows are action set piece after action set piece as the plot, and frankly everything else, takes a backseat. And you know what? I expect nothing less from this franchise. The stunts are actually very well done beginning with the opening one-shot all the way to the inane and insane finale that will make you laugh presumably right along with the filmmakers. And also like its previous couple predecessors, the laws of gravity do not apply and our heroes seem to become superheroes with nary a scratch in spite of taking a massive tumble down a hillside.
However, for all the insanity, Furious 7 excels once again with its cast. If you’ve been with this franchise since the beginning, which I have having seen every one of these in the theater, you can’t help but care for them in spite of the out of this world action scenes. Vin Diesel once again delivers as an action hero and his character’s storyline with Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty gives the film a slight boost and closes off that storyline which began in Fast & Furious. All that said, the heart behind the film is with Paul Walker who was killed while on hiatus and some of his scenes were completed with his two brothers filling in and some rather impressive visual effects work. Even with that, though, you can feel something was off in a few scenes so his absence isn’t totally missed, but the filmmakers did the best in such a tragic situation.
The remainder of the ensemble does fine with Tyrese serving as the loud mouth/comic relief, Ludacris as the tech geek who somehow became a half-decent fighter and newcomers to the series Kurt Russell and Ronda Rousey do well enough, especially Russell who hopefully gets a bigger role in subsequent films while Rousey’s fight versus Rodriguez wasn’t half bad.
With Justin Lin leaving the franchise apparently due to a quick turnaround from films 6 and 7, James Wan, whose claim to fame was Saw and Insidious was certainly an interesting choice to helm an action-fest film like Furious 7 and yet dangit he did a damn good job taking what Lin began and continued with amazing fury. Unfortunately the series will be looking for another director as Wan is moving on first with The Conjuring 2 and then Warner/DC’s Aquaman.
All in all, Furious 7 might not be as good as the previous installment and while Fast Five is still the best of the series, it’s still a well made action flick that takes the stunts to the next level and considering the setback of having to complete it without one of the stars, the filmmakers did a pretty good job making a solid flick and an emotional sendoff for Paul Walker and his character, Brian O’Connor. RIP.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Extended Edition (2:19:54; HD) – This version runs around 2 minutes longer and the biggest change is probably with the opening with some additional dialogue between Deckard and his comatose brother and the opening sequence running in “real time” whereas theatrically it was sped up. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same movie.
Deleted Scenes (5:59; HD) – Here we get four scenes that were trimmed or removed from Letty visiting a clinic to retrace her lost time and includes new footage with Gal Gadot. The other scenes are rather superfluous but fun to watch.
Talking Fast (31:47; HD) – This featurette, which I think this was originally going to be a U-Control feature, is hosted by James Wan taking viewers through different scenes from the film. This more or less serves as a commentary and is rather entertaining as Wan is an engaging fellow. Along with his comments, we get some behind-the-scenes footage. In other parts, various cast members come on to talk about certain scenes.
Back to the Starting Line (12:11; HD) looks at getting the franchise players back together and upping the ante. It’s a typical EPK featurette with on-set interviews with the cast and crew.
Flying Cars (5:42; HD) breaks down the different sequences in which the cars do amazing stunts, this one the car dive sequence.
Snatch and Grab (7:31; HD) is about the scene where Dom and crew get to the bus to rescue Ramsey and how that sequence was shot including shutting down due to a snow storm.
Tower Jumps (6:53; HD) – We get to see how the signature, at least for the trailers, scene was accomplished.
Inside the Fight (TRT 11:53; HD) is a series of featurettes breaking down the first between Hobbs vs. Shaw, Letty vs. Guard (Rousey), Dom vs. Shaw and Tej vs. goon.
The Cars of Furious (10:42; HD) takes a look at the variety of cars used in Furious 7.
Race Wars (6:34; HD) is a behind-the-scenes look at the early race scene amongst rabid F&F fans and how the scene was key for Letty and Dom.
Rounding things out is the Music Video (4:05; HD) for “See You Again” and Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride (8:15; HD).
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Universal Studios Home Entertainment releases Furious 7 out of the garage presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec). The picture quality on this showcases excellent detail level and even colors from skin tones to the city shades like Abu Dabi and L.A. There were no apparent flaws like aliasing, artifacts or banding making for a pretty looking transfer and one that would serve as reference quality.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
Not to be outdone, the movie has been given a supercharged DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel track which serves well especially for the plethora of action sequences that will put your subwoofer to good use while also presenting good and crisp dialogue throughout. However, this franchise isn’t known for its dialogue but the booms and this track certainly delivers.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Furious 7 takes insanity to the next level with incredible action sequences as well as impressive stunt work to go along with seeing characters I’ve come to care about since the beginning. No doubt the loss of Paul Walker weighed heavily on the cast and crew and one must give kudos for getting it done. And all things considered, Wan and company did the best with what they had while also giving the audience an emotional but effective sendoff for Walker and his O’Conner character. As far as the Blu-ray is considered, it offers great video and audio transfers and a good selection of bonus material with “Talking Fast” being well worth checking out to get insights into how certain scenes were shot including the opening sequence.