Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for his comatose brother.
For a franchise film in its 7th outing, ‘Fast & Furious 7’ has no right to be as enjoyable as it is, but James Wan and his cast have managed to create another over the top, ridiculous piece of blockbuster cinema. For a franchise on its dying legs not long after the first film, the transformation in fortunes has been incredible. Bringing in Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for the 5th instalment, and taking the film’s story away from street racing to a heist action series was a masterstroke, and the films following on from that highpoint have milked that formula to maximum effect. In this edition, the core group are forced to fight for their lives as the brother of Luke Evans antagonist from the 6th film (and the man featured in the post credits sequence of that film) starts to hunt them down in a quest for revenge. This leads to as much globetrotting as possible within the runtime, with Dubai, Tokyo, Azerbaijan and Los Angeles amongst the film’s destinations.
The man hunting them down is Deckard Shaw, a former British special forces agent and brother of Owen Shaw (Evans), and he’s played with tenacity by Jason Statham. Statham is one of the aspects that makes the film so enjoyable, effortlessly sliding into the ‘Fast & Furious’ world with his one dimensional goal giving his character a dangerous and threatening aura throughout. Statham plays the part with villainous glee, equally comfortable with a couple of fist pumping monologues (including the opening scene) as he is with the action sequences. The secondary villain played by Djimon Hounsou toils in Statham’s shadow, and he feels more akin to the stock villains with shady goals that have featured in many films over the years.
The elephant in the room is of course the death of series star Paul Walker, which cast a large shadow over the film’s production and posed many a question as to how the filmmakers would handle his untimely demise within the context of the film. I’m pleased to say the filmmakers handled the situation with a great degree of taste and respect, and the memorial to Walker is touching and feels true to the actor and the character. Several scenes were created using a combination of body doubles (including Walker’s brothers) and CGI, but there are only a couple of occasions it’s noticeable thanks to clever work in the editing suite.
As for the film itself, it’s as over the top and ridiculous as ever, but it never stops being enjoyable. I won’t spoil the fun but needless to say there are 2 sequences in particular (one in Dubai and one in Azerbaijan) that are just so audacious you can’t help but smile! The film is overly long and could have done with some tighter editing throughout, but for the most part this is great balls to the walls action filmmaking made by a cast and crew with a perfect handle on the tone of the material to mix humour and drama. How long can these films go on for? Who knows, but as long as they keep being as fun, audacious and thrilling as this, the series may have a lot of legs left yet.
Directed By: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell and Jason Statham