It’s one thing to go into a movie to be entertained, but there’s something to be said about movies that you go into with baggage and expectations. With “Furious 7”, the untimely death of Paul Walker casts a shadow on the film, but doesn’t eclipse it. In fact, for die hard fans we got what we wanted; it’s the same high-octane, unbelievable stunts that we’ve come to love, tie-ins to prior films, and the proper send off to a major character in the franchise.
Picking up where “Fast & Furious 6” ended, we get one of the best slow reveal openings I’ve seen in a while. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) makes an oath to his unconscious brother Owen (Luke Shaw) to finish the job he started in putting the “family” in body bags. Deckard, of course, is ten times smarter and more ruthless than his brother. He’s an ex-black ops asset that was so skilled he turned into a ghost after his own government tried to terminate him due to all of the sensitive intel he knew. Deckard gets straight to it! He kills Han (Sung Kang) (as seen at the end of FF6), pays a visit to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to secure the locations of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) Crew, and sends a bomb to Dom’s old house.
With that, the gang is pulled back into the life. For Brian (Paul Walker), it’s a welcomed reunion as he “misses the bullets” as a now domesticated father and husband to Mia (Jordana Brewster). It’s the fine line between the old life, and new life for Brian that gives the film some of it’s emotional gravity. For Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Ludacris), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) it’s another day in the office.
How do you catch a ghost? Enter Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), something of a governmental ghost himself, who has been chasing Shaw for years. Mr. Nobody guarantees to help the family take down Shaw if they secure a much sought after, newly developed, global spy application called “God’s Eye”.
As per usual Dom’s crew gets strung along to do someone else’s dirty work in order to get their own personal needs met. The most annoying thing is that with each victory or setback, Shaw turns up like the kid copying off of your homework. Even with that, it doesn’t take away from the intense weight that each heist, fight, or stunt carries in the film.
*Spoiler Alert: Paul Walker Homage- skip the next paragraph*
I hate doing spoilers, but the construction of the Brian/Paul Walker send off was extremely well done and worth breaking down. First, the subtext of the entire ending was that while Brian is saying goodbye to Dom, the cast didn’t get to say goodbye to their friend in real life. As Dom pulls up to a crossroad, Brian joins him dressed in white and in a white car (no coincidence). Reminiscent of the two racing each other in the past, they both take off for a stretch, as Dom’s voiceover tells a story of their unbroken bond. The camera then cranes up as Brian’s car pulls off to the left from the main road. We follow Brian’s car for a while and then lift to the heavens as the screen dissolves to white. It’s an absolutely majestic way of saying so much without being on the nose, and a great homage to Paul Walker.
“Furious 7” will not disappoint and it continues the new legacy of over the top action, hard nosed characters, and emotional beats to match. I would love to be in the writer’s room as they discuss “what could we do to top the last film and push this even further?”! It seems we’ll find out that answer in the 8th installment. For now, the true fans of the franchise will soak up and appreciate the beautiful film we were given in spite of the tragic real life occurrences in “Furious 7”. That has to be commended and respected!