Friday, April 03, 2015

The Seventh Vroom

Not exactly sure how, but at, one point, the Fast & Furious franchise got in.

I still remember the intensity with which I dismissively rolled my eyes at the one that started it all back in 2001, and the unabashed joy I got outta 2013’s Fast & Furious 6. I guess in between the two releases I realized that resisting Vin Diesel & Co. was futile, which is why, at the end of the sixth chapter of the this action-driven saga, I went all in and said bring on the seventh.

And then Paul Walker, the series co-lead, died in a beyond-tragic vehicular accident, a few months after the sixth movie’s worldwide-blockbuster run and during production on this weekend’s Furious 7 Seven.

No lie: I was sad when the actor passed away. Walker was such a cutie and such a serviceable star. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what sort of dramatic actor he would’ve turned into had he done more fare like Flags of Our Fathers – his was an action/genre bag, and he was good at that – but this much is for sure hella true: He is and will continue to be missed by an entire generation that grew up with him.

This seventh entry, directed by horror mastermind James Wan, is a tribute to Walker and a testament to all that he brought to the franchise. It concludes with an epilogue narrated by Diesel that will have you tearing up. It absolutely did me. #noshame! Just when you thought this one would be all about the muscle cars and the crazy action, Wan reveals it actually does possess that strongest muscle of all: a heart.

And that heart beats fast and it beats furious, and it will keep doing that, “for Paul.” I am going to have to insist on it.

Of course, heart’s not all Furious Seven has; it also has a plot and action galore. Duh.

We talkin’, if you remember the trailer, parachuting cars. Ronda Rousey pops up for a stylish mêlée with Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty. Plus, Jason Statham. Hello!

Statham joins the franchise as Deckard Shaw, the even-more-badass older brother of Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw, the baddie from the previous movie. Deckard’s hungry for revenge, and as we saw at the end of Fast & Furious 6, he’s already begun exacting it. Which is why after he benches Dwayne Jonhson’s Agent Hobbs for the bulk of the more-than-two-hour movie (he is that tough), Diesel’s Dom, Walker’s Brian, and their crew crisscross the globe giving chase to him (and to an international terrorist thirsty for the ultimate people tracker played Djimon Honsou, on a covert assignment from none other than Kurt Russell). ’Cause why not.

Furious Seven is not a good movie in the strict sense of what that means, but it is a good movie in that it is fun, and relentlessly so. We, OK...I have made peace with that, which is why I can now enjoy these movies. They are what they are, and that, kids, is very, very silly – and yet, they are also very, very entertaining.

This offering’s also Walker’s final big-screen hurrah, and it is one heckuva farewell. So here’s to him, and, yes, here’s to more Fast & Furious.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Universal Pictures.

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