8 April 2015

Furious 7 review

I'll put my hands up and admit this right now - I am one of the worst people that you could ask to review Furious 7. The film relies a lot on the back story created in previous Fast and Furious films, only one of which I've ever seen and none of which that I can remember, the result of this being that I don't have the pre-existing connection to the characters or the knowledge of previous events that anyone who has seen the previous six films will have. That being said...

Furious 7 sees ex-black ops British badass Deckard Shaw looking for revenge against Dom and his gang after they defeated his brother in London during the events of the last film. In order to stop Deckard from killing them all, they must retrieve a stolen spy program known as Gods Eye that will allow them to find Deckard and fight him on their own terms.

You can't really talk about Furious 7 without first mentioning the death of Paul Walker during filming, an event that quite clearly reshaped at least some elements of Furious 7. What must have been a difficult hurdle to overcome has ended up being one of the strongest elements of the film thanks to the inclusion of a character arc that allows Brian O'Conner, the character he plays, to be written out of the future films without simply killing him off, a move that would have been callous under the circumstances. There is a tribute to the character at the end of the film that serves as a memorial for the actor, a montage of clips that fans will no doubt enjoy and manages to stay on the right side of cheesy sentimentality.

The main story of Furious 7 is amongst the least meaningful and stupidest ever committed to screen, quite literally just a thinly veiled excuse that helps link the action scenes together. Furious 7 really makes your work to maintain your suspension of disbelief, and there are some fairly huge plot holes and inconveniences that it never deals with, or even seems to notice - but I'm kind of assuming that's OK here. I never expected Furious 7 to be a sweeping dramatic epic, so a weak plot seems like it could well be the norm.

Because in reality, people are going to see Furious 7 for one reason and one reason only - the action sequences. There are 3 main set pieces in Furious 7, each one radically different from the last in both location, style of action and the roles that various members of Dom's gang play in them. The best of these is the mountain trail heist by a long shot, but both the Abu Dhabi skyscraper robbery and the finale in LA have something to offer.

That's not to say that these scenes are without flaws - Tony Jaa is criminally underused, the finale goes on way too long and it never really feels like the stakes are that high thanks to the invulnerability of the main characters - but they are all shot from a good distance with the action clearly visible and geographically sound, something that is all too rare in action films these days.

There are other problems that Furious 7 suffers from, particularly the amount of "music video" moments that simply have the camera panning over nice cars and ogling scantily clad women to some obnoxious music (something that is no doubt a staple of the series but is wholly unnecessary in 2015), and Deckard Shaw starts the film as a significantly greater threat than when he leaves it thanks to the films unwillingness to have him actually do anything of importance. But in general, Furious 7 is a fairly entertaining couple of hours that has managed to make me interested in seeing more of Dom and his gang, and will almost certainly meet any expectations that people have going in.

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