THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS series is a very rare beast – one that managed to become dramatically more enjoyable on its fifth installment, just when everyone was preparing to write the films off for good. FAST 5 was the point where the storytellers whole-heartedly embraced their long-running tale’s ridiculousness, and turbo boosted not only the action but also the melodramatic story beats and plot twists to the point of genre subversion; In a stroke of genius, it became the most action-packed, expensive and successful soap opera the world has ever seen.
Like all soap operas, if you’re expecting to walk into FURIOUS 7 and know everything that’s going on, think again. Go and do some research on the highly convoluted plot (or better yet – watch the previous 6, but don’t expect too much from 1-4, least of all part 3 – the disjointed ‘Tokyo Drift’). Suffice to say that this time out we learn that the big bad from the previous film, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) has a bigger, badder brother, Deckard (Jason Statham), who wants revenge on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew for putting Shaw the younger in a coma when they foiled his evil scheme. Defying death at Deckard’s hand will involve US government agents including and beyond Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs, run-ins with international terrorists, exotic world travel, and of course a string of incredible action, mostly involving cars.
In fact, there’s so much action in FURIOUS 7 that even the most ardent of fans may find it fatiguing. Though the spectacle is frequently breathtaking and the action is superbly shot – and in the case of car stunts, edited (the hand to hand combat sequences have that same old Hollywood problem of too many cuts) - the sequences leading up to the money shot often run just a too long. If you wanted to boil it all one single factor of enjoyment, FURIOUS 7 ranks second in the series overall, behind 5 and in front of 6.
Of course, the tragic and untimely death during production of star Paul Walker was always going to cast something of a shadow over FURIOUS 7 – particularly as the series has always played the importance of family as its emotional trump card - but theirs and our loss is handled with elegance and grace, and the film serves as a fitting tribute.
FURIOUS 7 is in cinemas worldwide from April 3