Early Review: 'Furious 7' Brings the Insanity and The Emotion

Early Review: 'Furious 7' Brings the Insanity and The Emotion

Mar 16, 2015

Furious 7 movie review

Yes, they pulled it off. Furious 7 is the absurd, and absurdly entertaining, action movie you want it to be. And the way it handles and honors the tragic loss of star Paul Walker, both the on-screen character and the off-screen man, is just perfect.

Nothing about Furious 7 made it an easy project. The obstacles were stacked against it from the second Fast 6 ended. Not only is it a sequel, but it's the sixth sequel in an action movie franchise that doesn't have decades of comic book storylines and characters to draw from. And as if keeping the franchise exciting and fresh after everything that's come before it wasn't enough, the movie that did come before it happened to be a perfect piece of blockbuster action that was going to be an impossible task to match. 

So how did they do it? By making everything in the movie itself feel impossible. Every single action sequence - which means pretty much the entire movie - is built against impossible odds. The big set pieces involve parachuting cars out of planes, or bursting through skyscrapers, and that's before they even get to a finale where the street racers are so ludicrously outmatched that the enemy won't even be disclosed here. Even the smaller scenes are carved from mountains of impossibility.

The introduction of the movie's primary bad guy, played perfectly by Jason Statham, is preposterous movie gold. His first showdown with Vin Diesel culminates in one of the greatest car crash moments ever filmed. The whole movie is populated, both on the good side and the bad side, with men and women that are just walking, talking, brooding embodiments of the outrageous.

Furious 7 is a movie where you actually buy that Paul Walker can hold his own against a martial artist like Tony Jaa, or that Michelle Rodriguez is evenly matched with the likes of UFC badass Ronda Rousey. It's a movie where Kurt Russell can play an ultrasecret government operative / Belgian beer aficionado and it just makes undeniable sense, or that you don't doubt for a second that an elite hacker (Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel) can look like a Bond girl that was too cool for a Bond movie.

And director James Wan brings a ton of new energy to the action scenes. It's often like the camera is in its own battles with gravity, constantly jumping and spinning and defying physics in its own meta ways. But thankfully he's also not afraid to pull away from the action, to cut to a silent distance and let the audience appreciate the glorious contradiction that is the world's most expensive supercar soaring through the air before punching between some of the tallest buildings in the world.

Surprisingly the one thing that holds Furious 7 back a bit is that may just have too much action. The series has certainly been known for its increasingly complicated and massive set pieces that make even the best superhero movies blush, but what makes it truly sing is the way it lets us see the lives of its funny gang of friends. And that's a bit lacking here. The script rushes between major movie moments that it often overlooks the minor moments that define the heart of this franchise. There's still very funny interplay between Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, but it usually takes place during an action scene. Basically, a few more scenes that weren't taking place during these impossible missions, and that weren't all about Diesel's character, wouldn't have been unwelcome.

But if too much action in your action movie franchise is really a movie's biggest problem, it's hardly the end of the world. And everyone in front of and behind the camera more than makes up for it with the way they handle Paul Walker's role. It's certainly expected that Furious 7 could deliver on insane action, but it's wonderful that it also handles the emotional send off with grace and dignity. That balancing act is neither easy nor envious, but once again the Fast and Furious gang pulls off the impossible.

For another reaction, here's our Erik Davis, who recorded a video review with Alicia Malone immediately following its midnight premiere.



Furious 7 had its world premiere at the SXSW film festival. It hits theaters on April 3, 2015.

Check here for all of our SXSW 2015 coverage.





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