Friday 3 April 2015

Review: Fast & Furious 7

World of Blackout Film Review

Fast & Furious 7 Poster

Fast & Furious 7
Cert: 12A / 137 mins / Dir. James Wan / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

Now personally, I wouldn't have thought that the seventh part of what is essentially the Top Gear: The Movie franchise would have enough commercial or cultural heft to warrant a midnight showing. Luckily I don't work for Universal who organised one anyway. Being the dutifully enthusiastic cinema enthusiast, I went along in the company of a hundred or so other folks who couldn't possibly wait until normal viewing hours the following day.

Following the events of Fast & Furious 6, Vin Diesel returns once more as Toretto, with his team being hunted by the big, bad brother of Owen Shaw (naturally when you've had an actor like Luke Evans who's pathologically unable to hide his Welsh accent, you'd cast gritty-cockney Jason Statham as the kid he grew up with). Tasked by a US governmental black-ops organisation, Toretto's crew have to retrieve a stolen computer chip and take out Shaw The Elder, spending a ridiculous amount of money on tyres and ammunition along the way.

Directing duties for FF7 fall to horror-helmsman James Wan, and he brings us an incredibly focussed film. It's lighter on the snappy humour than last time around, but that's largely due to Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs being on the bench for the first two acts (and a feeling of relief sweeps over the audience when he suits up for the film's climax). That said, Wan certainly has his work cut out containing Kurt Russell, who can't stop twirling his moustache as the government spook who wants The Maguffin ASAP. The film is even bigger and louder than its predecessor, with the cars and buildings a bit dirtier (with the exception of the Abu Dhabi sequence*1), and many of the previously blue skies being noticeably overcast.

It's still an insane amount of fun, of course, and occasionally is the dumbest Fast & Furious film to date. This is thanks in no small part to Jason Statham, who is simultaneously perfect for the franchise, yet manages to derail the proceedings by being little more than a cardboard-cutout of a bad guy. It's a sight to behold, Statham and Diesel trying to out-stupid each other on the top of a multi-story car park with massive spanners (not a euphemism). By no means on The Stath's list of bad performances, he seems wasted if anything, reduced to an angry cartoon villain by the final reel.

It's good to note that FF7's editing is a lot clearer than FF6's, so that your average viewer can actually tell what's going on during the chase/fight sequences, and features a setpiece where five vehicles are airdropped from a cargo plane, which makes the skydiving sequence from Iron Man 3 look like a school gymnastics display. Long-time F&F writer Chris Morgan knows exactly how these things work by now, of course, and plays to everyone's strengths*2, even if the sought-after computer chip is ridiculously overpowered even by today's standards, and the gift-wrapped bomb on Toretto's porch destroys the entire house but doesn't vaporise the three humans standing unprotected within a 15-foot radius in the other direction. But if I start questioning the internal logic of Fast & Furious movies, I guess I'll get the answers I deserve.

While it's not intentionally a 'grimmer' film, you're constantly aware that this is Paul Walker's final outing. FF7 gives a beautifully fitting sendoff to Walker; warmly sentimental without being mawkish, and it's clear in the film's final moments just how much he meant to his fellow cast members (ie family). Even I'll readily admit that I wiped away a tear as the credits rolled.

Sure, it's formulaic as hell, but when your customers love the product this much*3, why would you go and change it?

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Big and loud, it certainly is.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
This will be a buy-er.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
With the best will in the world, I'm not sure I can go that far.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It certainly does.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Maybe just a little.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't, and it's not good enough.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Well, in addition to the (albeit brief) appearance of series-regular Han Seoul-Oh, Statham's character is named Deckard (cf Blade Runner), and the film features a scenery-chewing turn from Kurt Russell, who of course auditioned for the role of Han Solo. The film's like a love-letter to Harrison Ford, albeit discreetly..

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Are there really that many hot women strolling around in bikinis in the city in Abu Dhabi? Because that's not the impression I get...
*2 Well okay, maybe not to Statham's.
*3 This is part seven of a franchise, after all.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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