'Furious 7' review – triple the craziness, stunts and fun

Film Title: Furious 7 Imagine going sky diving, then immediately going para sailing before landing to do some white water rafting followed by a rigorous motorcycle chase through oncoming traffic and then winding down with a marathon city-wide paintball session. That’s about a fraction of the exhilaration you’ll get watching ‘Furious 7,’ the latest spectacle in the greatest modern day action series going today that also doubles as a touching farewell to star Paul Walker. The plot is more personal this time as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham essentially playing an evil version of his ‘Transporter’ character Frank Martin, Transporter / Transporter 2 [Blu-ray]) wants revenge on Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) crew after they put down his brother Owen. After hospitalizing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Dom’s FBI ally, Deckard begins his quest for revenge killing Han (Sung Kang) and nearly taking out Dom and his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) and best friend, Brian (Walker).

Furious 7 - Race Wars thongFor those still confused with the series’ timeline, screenwriter Chris Morgan neatly ties everything together in a scene that connects the events of ‘Fast & Furious,’ “Fast Five’ and ‘Fast & Furious 6’ with ‘Tokyo Drift.’ And for good measure, the series takes a pit stop at Race Wars, a pivotal scene in the series’ kickoff. Deckard proves an unpredictable enemy, potentially striking from anywhere and vanishing just as quickly without a trace.

Dom and crew get an unlikely assist from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a government agent who offers to help provided they track down a hacker, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, ‘Game of Thrones’) who created the God’s Eye — a device that can instantaneously track anyone. Furious 7Once Ramsey is recovered, they can use God’s Eye first to find Deckard. But first, they’ve got to spring her from her terrorist captors Jakarde (Djimon Hounsou) and Kiet (Tony Jaa).

If the previous film had more of an action slant, this one is a James Bond meets The Expendables.

After the large ensemble in “Fast Five” and the slightly pared down all-star roster in “Fast & Furious 6,” Dom’s crew is noticeably smaller this time around and the film lacks the cool, assured dynamic provided by Han and Gisele (Gal Gadot). Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are back, but the band is missing some key components. Film Title: Furious 7 Instead of restocking the roster, Morgan focuses more on defining the new characters’ new status quo. Letty is still struggling to regain her memory while Mia is concerned Brian is disappointed with his new life as a minivan driving husband and father.

How much the script was adjusted to handle Walker’s tragic, still hard to believe death is uncertain, but Morgan does a commendable job finding a suitable way to retire Walker’s character from the series. Walker’s brothers and creative use of CGI help flesh out the scenes Film Title: Furious 7As Walker died before filming was complete, his brothers and CGI were used to fill in the gaps.

For the most part, it’s hard to distinguish what Walker shot and didn’t, a testament to those involved. Justin Lin, who directed the previous four films, passed the baton to James Wan, famous for his horror thrillers including ‘Insidious: Chapter 2,’ (Insidious: Chapter 2 (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy), ‘The Conjuring’ (The Conjuring (Blu-Ray + DVD)and ‘Saw.’ (Saw: The Complete Movie Collection [Blu-ray]).

Wan’s experience pays off as he squeezes out every bit of tension in the death-defying moments (horror thrillers and extreme action films carry a similar edge of your seat DNA). Wan is a bit guilty of the occasional over-edit during fight scenes and getting too close to the combatants, which distorts the action somewhat. It’s a bit hard to get upset though since Wan is all about topping previous installments with one crazy sequence after another. Film Title: Furious 7Word of advice: don’t bring your logical, left-brain thinking friend to see this as they will no doubt get stopped trying to make sense of every questionable physics and logic-defying scene. There’s a ton. They’re crazy. They’re all ridiculous, but you’ll be too busy grinning like an idiot to care. Film Title: Furious 7This is a franchise where the filmmakers and stars willingly embrace the absurd so going in your motto should be “everything is impossible, but awesome.”

Keep in mind, this is a series that’s featured a safe being tugged along like a ping pong ball, a highway tank battle and an epic runway airplane takedown.

It didn’t seem like the series could reach another level, but with cars flying through buildings, high speed chases down mountains and drone shootouts in a city, ‘Furious 7’ manages to triple up on OMG moments.

Beyond the big action sequences, Wan gets Johnson to do one of his trademark WWE finishing moves, majorly delivers on the clash of The Scorpion King and Lee Christmas, giving Jaa a showcase to kick tail in a major blockbuster and tosses in a hard-hitting brawl between Rodriguez and UFC star Ronda Rousey just because it’ll excite the fans. Film Title: Furious 7At 137 min., the film may be about 15 minutes too long, but you’ll likely be having too much of a blast to care. This is 2015’ first mega blockbuster — a year that may go down in history as the biggest epic blockbuster showdown ever. ‘Furious 7’ may not emerge with the crown, but it’s set the bar high for maximum crazy fun.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Photo credit:Scott Garfield/Universal Studios

  • Fred

    Great review Jeff, thanks a lot. I’m planning on going to see this tomorrow, I have “Furious 7” as potentially being among the 5 biggest box office hits of the year and if it doesn’t finish in the Top 5 it will be no lower than the 6th or 7th biggest hit of the year at worst.

  • Thanks man. I’ve got SW, AOU in a toss up for No.1, the other as 2, then possibly this. Hunger Games’ weaker showing surprised me and the experts are predicting this will open above $100 million. Thinking this could be 3 or 4.

  • Fred

    I have definitely have AOU being the biggest hit of the year, I just think the momentum and overall strength of the MCU will make this film too powerful for anything else to overcome. Plus it’s following up a film that was just beloved by movie audiences. When I judge film’s box office potential I always look at the general movie audience as opposed to die hard fanboys/girls because as strong as that fanbase is it’s very limited compared to your overall movie audience. It’s no accident that the two biggest films in box office history(Avatar, Titantic) don’t have what you might call rabid fanboy bases by no means, but they we’re films that just polarized movie audiences and kept them coming, that’s what “The Avengers” did as well. If not for the general movie audience sucking “The Avengers” in it would not have been nearly the box office hit it became, I don’t care how loyal and passionate it’s fanboy base was. HG opening about 40 million less than “Catching Fire” surprised me as well, meaning this series has hit the ceiling with it’s box office opening potential. Though I think the final film will open with more than ‘Mockingjay part 1’ and might very well have the second biggest opening weekend of the year, I don’t think it will be able to match the first 2 films opening weekend but we’ll see. I see the final HG film opening between 135-145 million. Paul Walker’s unfortunate and untimely death will indeed have a big impact on F7 and could very well catapult it to as high as 3 or 4 like you said.

  • Good points. Very curious about Star Wars as the lack of holiday blockbusters should help it bring in big business. Think it’ll come down to how well it performs in January before the winner is revealed.
    Mockingjay 2 definitely should fare better but I see that falling behind Spectre now. Where do you see that landing?

  • Fred

    I’ll say this much Jeff, if AOU makes around the same or a little less than the first film it could open up the door to ‘Force Awakens'(assuming it’s a strong film) to make a good run at it and possibly surpass it, but if AOU improves greatly on the first film’s 1.52 billion and makes a strong run at 2 billion forget it, it’s a wrap, even if ‘Force’ is a strong film I just don’t think it will be able to match that amount of money. Right now I’m seeing AOU grossing between 1.7 to 2.2 billion and ‘Force Awakens’ grossing between 1 to 1.3 billion, that should easily make both films 1-2 this year and Disney a very happy studio to say the least. I think F7 makes between 900 million to 1 billion, what kind of numbers do you see these films making if you have some thoughts on it.

  • Just based on the trailers I see AOU surpassing the hype. I’d see $1.85 billion as a good mark. Iron Man 3 hit $1.2 billion so it’s possible it hits $2 billion.

    Revenge of the Sith hit $848 million without 3D back in 2005. Only the Avengers and Iron Man 3 topped that so $1.5 billion is easily in range. I see Furious hitting $1 billion as it benefits from curiosity factor and being the year’s first blockbuster.

  • Fred

    Your right, Star Wars is going to dominate in December and should continue to do so throughout January depending on how good it is and how well it’s perceived by movie audiences. Now make no mistakes about it SW is guaranteed to be a big hit rather it turns out good or bad, but if it’s not good it’s box office potential will be limited. Yes Spectre could overtake Mockingjay part 2, it’s defitely goio make more money overseas. My Top 7 prediction for the year is 1)Age Of Ultron(1.7 -2.2 billion), 2)Force Awakens(1-1.3 billion), 3)Spectre(950 million-1.1 billion), 4)Furious 7(900 million -1 billion), 5)Minions(850-950 million), 6)Mockingjay Part 2(800-900 million), 7)Jurassic World(750-850 million) if it breaks out with audiences and re-lights the flames of yesteryear. Now things could change of course and I could be way off haha. Now if ‘Force Awakens’ turns out to be great and catches on with modern day movie audiences it should reach and pass 1 billion without too much of a problem, I’m assuming it’s going to be good at least.

  • Fred

    Man the Dubs(Warriors) won their 11th game in a row tonight against Phoenix but it wasn’t easy lol. They have by far the best record in the NBA at 62-13 and I think they definitely have what it takes to win the championship this year, but they do have to get past the always tough and great Spurs squad which won’t be easy but it can be done.

  • Fred

    Lol I definitely won’t guarantee that AOU will hit 2 billion, but it certainly has a pretty good shot at it imo. So you have it hitting 1.85 billion, that’s a monster amount for sure. How much do you have Force Awakens hitting Jeff and does my prediction sound pretty reasonable to you?

  • Fred

    Jeff forgive my ignorance my friend, I didn’t read your last response right when I asked you how much you think Force Awakens will make. I’ll tell you this, if AOU makes 1.85 billion and Force Awakens 1.5 billion like you’ve predicted, that will lead to one hell of a year at the box office buddy. Got any domestic predictions on AOU and Force Awakens?

  • I would be hot if I’m Mark Jackson! As a Lakers fan this season has been over before it really got started, but I don’t see anyone beating the Warriors. They’ve looked great all season! See anyone who could challenge them?

  • Like your predictions although you may be a bit higher on AOU’s threshold. I’m most curious what the ceiling is for Marvel Studios’ films. Avengers did crazy business and I want to see if AOU can get much higher.

    Force Awakens’ prediction sounds about right to me, but think Spectre may be impacted a bit by Hunger Games lingering around and if it has good word of mouth it could distract people from it and then Force Awakens will swoop in and take more of its shine.

  • No worries at all my friend. $800 and $700 million respectively sound about right…

    I may go help Furious 7 with its box office numbers either this weekend or next 😉

  • Fred

    Wow so you think 800 million domestic for AOU and 700 million domestic for ‘Force Awakens’, that’s a lot of money man, your domestic numbers are definitely beyond what I’m thinking, that’s an amazingly high amount. If those two films reached those amounts they would rank #1 and #3 domestic all time and that would assure that 2015 would smash any previous year as far as box office goes. My domestic numbers for both films are not quite ambitious as yours my friend, I’m thinking 570-650 domestic for AOU and 375-450 domestic for ‘Force Awakens’. I guess I’m tad bit more cautious than you buddy lol. Now if AOU ends up opening to a ridiculous number like 250 million it’s opening weekend than I’m thinking it will have a pretty good shot at topping 700 million domestic and if ‘Force Awakens’ proves to be even more stronger than I think it will than 500 million domestic and beyond might not be out of reach for it.

  • The first one did $623M so I’ve gotta think it does better with Avengers word of mouth and since May doesn’t have a strong lineup either. Revenge of the Sith did $380M in 2005 without benefit of IMAX.

  • Fred

    Well Jeff to be honest with you, I’m higher on AOU’s threshold because it’s following up a stronger and more recent film than ‘Force Awakens’ is. You have to admit that the Star Wars prequels we’re not as strong as the original trilogy and that letdown and let a of fans down in terms of overall quality, once a film series quality starts to fall off they rarely ever recover. Now ‘Force Awakens’ has a chance to make the Star Wars franchise one of those rare exceptions. Plus I think today in so many ways The Avengers and the MCU as a whole is like this generations ‘Star Wars’, there is nothing more powerful, talked about and that fascinates movie audiences than the MCU today. But as you can certainly see I do have ‘Force Awakens’ being a big hit now because the excitement over it seems to be at it’s strongest in at least a good decade, that’s why I think it finishes as the second biggest hit of 2015. Had The Avengers been a mediocre film even with big numbers I would have predicted a drop off for it, like if this film turns out to be bad(I highly doubt it though) it will hurt the box office numbers of the ‘Infinity War’ films. As long as AOU and Force Awakens are strong films it will greatly help their upcoming sequels, but if the films are mediocre it will hurt both brands. It won’t stop the films from making big money because their brands are much too strong for that, but it would certainly decrease their box office potential to an extent.

  • I’m a prequel fan but some folks were disappointed. Force Awakens sets the new bar though and I think this one is the most important in establishing the tone of the next trilogy for fans and box office.

    AOU I’m confident will be huge.

  • Fred

    Your right about that, in fact “Revenge Of The Sith” was the biggest hit of 2015 and to me was clearly the best of the Star Wars prequels, it was actually pretty damn good. I think the big boost and payoff to that film was obviously Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. And you’re right Jeff I’ve been looking at the may line up and it looks like AOU could absolutely dominate May like Force Awakens will do in December. While they look to be hits “Mad Max” and “Tomorrowland” do not look like they will be nearly strong enough to take enough money from AOU nor knock it from the top, in fact looking at May’s schedule AOU could actually make a strong run at 5 weeks at no.1 which I think Force Awakens certainly has a chance to accomplish as well with it’s lack of competition in January. They only reason I’m a little cautious about AOU surpassing The Avengers 623 million domestic is because that’s a lot of damn money man lol, but with a strong opening and competition not being strong enough to slow I down in May it definitely has a chance to surpass it.

  • Fred

    Lol tell me about it. I know Mark Jackson is pissed, but I also think he took them as far they could go and was limited in his offensive schemes. I know your Lakers have had some down years lately, but you guys are loaded with rafters in the stands baby, allows us warriors fans to add another rafter to ours, hell it’s been 40 years since the last one and we’re overdue here in the Bay Area my friend. But things do look good for the Warriors so we’ll see.

  • You’re right. It is a lot to catch up to, but I’m thinking it’s definitely possible.

    Sith is one of my all-time faves so I’m biased?

  • Hey man, I can’t complain. We got five banners with Kobe alone so I’ll take the lean times. Actually hope your boys pull it off.

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