Furious 7 Review: It Was Everything It Could Be
By the time you read this, Furious 7, the final installment of the more-than-a-decade-long story of street racers-turned-deputized government agents will have been spinning box office turnstyles like so many tires spitting rubber in each previous chapter.
But the real story for most who will go to this movie, beyond the on-screen handling of the death of one of it's stars during the filming (Paul Walker), is how the story will play out for it's cast of characters.
For the uninitiated, The Cliff Notes Version of this franchise goes something like this: Grand Larcenist Dominick Toretto (Vin Diesel) heads up a hard-scrabble "family" of would-be street thugs whose cast changes with various violent death and strategic recruitment as each movie plays out. In the first FnF, his gang is infiltrated by Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker), an in-too-deep FBI agent who sees beyond the crimes and into the integrity of the Toretto family while the corruption of his own agency leads him to reveal his true identity to save one of Toretto's clan. This move simultaneously makes him a marked man by both groups, but also earns him a certain measure of respect from Toretto. Keep in mind this is the Cliff Notes version.
As the series moves along, somehow the Toretto clan becomes deputized part-time Federal Agents car-chasing and destroying many cities on different continents, seemingly because they can skillfully drive without regard for the laws of Governments or physics. A couple of "family' members die sadly, while others just sort-of disappear. The strangest of which is the vehicular homicide death of Han (Sung Kang) who was part of the franchise's 3rd installment, inconveniently made without the fist two movies' cast members (Producers sent the whole kit and kaboodle to Tokyo for some drift-racing and weak plot-lining). It's so confusing that this 3rd movie (Tokyo Drift) eventually becomes the prequel for the 7th movie, and it's for this reason that Han is posthumously (In production timeline, not story timeline) added to the 4th and 5th movies. I am confused myself at this point.
Anyway, for Furious 7, the gang is defending themselves against the brother (Jason Statham) of the guy they killed in the end of '6 (Luke Evans) who may or may not actually be dead, but I digress. Statham's character is introduced at the end of 6 in a cliff-hanger scene showing how he just killed Han in cold blood, due to Han's relationship with Toretto.
The shit-storm starts right away, first at the Hospital where Shaw's (Luke Evans) brother (Statham) has killed or threatened or blown-up everybody in charge of his care. he leaves in a huff, and then heads for info on the Toretto clan. Where better to get that than from the Black Ops branch of the FBI and it's hulking case leader Special Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who has also gone soft on Toretto and his crew. Hobbs came into the series as a badass agent who has never failed to apprehend the poor saps unlucky enough to come across his desk. He is law without prejudice. Rack 'em up and knock 'em down. Well, somehow he too learns to respect the tough but nice code of the Toretto's, and eventually enlists their help.
It might also be noteworthy that after Hobbs attempt but failure to apprehend Toretto, he began a pattern of choosing poor partners that were supposedly personally vetted by the agency and Hobbs himself. First, he somehow manages to hook-up with the bad but beautiful DSS (Diplomatic Secret Service) Agent (MMA fighter Gina Carano) in '6 but she turns out to be a double agent who feeds the good guy's plan every step of the way. At the end of the same movie his new partner is Elena (Elsa Pataky), a former Brazilian cop in the '5 movie, who I guess is now not only a U.S. citizen, but also qualified for FBI and DSS in the same time frame. And somehow earns the trust of the most accomplished agent in the whole Diplomatic Secret Service over a probable host of other longer-serving more qualified candidates. But how else are you going to include her in the movie? Her character has already had her husband killed by a corrupt police force, then quits her job as a police officer from that same force to go shack up with Toretto, who is on the rebound from losing the love of his life Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), only to watch him find out she's still alive (Awkward). Other than the ones dying, this is the worst role in this series.
So how to close out all these characters is the task here for Furious 7. Brian O'Connor is the only one who really gets the treatment, as you see him finally realize that the family life is just as rewarding as traversing the globe driving fast and shooting people. Toretto continues to head this shrinking band of misfits, but drives away alone, perhaps to more adventures? Will Letty be by his side? What about Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) who has faithfully yet reluctantly been involved with these schemes since 2Fast and 2Furious, and has been friends with O'connor since their school days? Will he be content to live the playboy lifestyle, or has the time spent with the Torettos influence him to reach deeply for more than shallow, multiple sexual partners? Tej (Ludacris) gets to hook-up with his digital soulmate, introduced for this installment, fellow hacker Megan Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) while fellow new-for-this-chapter characters played by Kurt Russel and Ronda Rousey come and go effortlessly. Finally, Mia (Jordanna Brewster) is put out to pasture 2 movies too late, as the lethal combination of boring and odd-plastic-surgery evolution finally does her in. These last two installments have had her as nothing more than baggage, either, announcing a pregnancy, or uncomfortably holding a kid in this not-for-kids lifestyle.
So while the Paul Walker part of this series is over (except for soft-focus flashbacks I'm sure), and along hard life and driving lessons. him Mia and that boring storyline, watch for the next generation FnF movies to emerge, with Uncle Dom dishing out some hard life, and driving lessons.