Fast and Furious 7 is one of the hottest tickets the cinemas this year. The franchise has endured to become a standout performer – in Australia the Fast 6 was the eighth highest grossing movie of the year with $24 million, Fast 5 seventh highest with $26 million. On the back of that success Universal order a one-year turnaround on the seventh addition however it was delayed due to the real-life death of star Paul Walker.
In every scene Paul’s character Brain O’Connor was in danger the audience were on the edge of their seat. The jeopardy was real. No spoilers here, but the way the character was written out was fitting for the series. After consistently flirting with death for the last ten years this was the most logical conclusion.
It was widely publicised his brothers and CGI were used to complete the remaining scenes. Props to those guys. Apart from one stunt-heavy concluding battle it was impossible to tell the difference.
Props to everyone involved really. In a time when the franchise should have slumbered into direct-to-DVD it softly rebooted the series into a Robin Hood-inspired crime caper. The injection of more money and better writers allowed the cast to perform at their best.
The main cast have their formula down and weren’t trying to deviate. Vin Diesel growled authoritatively as per usual. Paul Walker was once again his right hand man, but this time with more to do since the culling of the supportive cast. Tyrese Gibson should start competing with Kevin Hart for comedy roles. He is golden, particular as a two man act with with Ludacris’ slick gadget guy. A little more plot for badass Michelle Rodriguez would have been nice, though the continuation and conclusion of her memory loss arc was present without getting in the way of the fun.
Poor Jordana Brewster – onscreen wife to Paul Walker and brother of Vin Diesel – was once again shuffled to safety early on in the piece rather than entering the fray. The same thing happened in Fast Six, while at least in Fast Five she ran the communications and GPS. Don’t expect her to return for the eighth outside of a cameo.
Outside of the main crew are some formidable superstars that add major credibility. Dwayne Johnson is the best move the series ever made and shines in every moment he’s given, even if he is kept at arm’s length to stop from outshining the others. Fast and Furious first-timer Kurt Russel brought some old style to the fold as a friend-of-a-friend of Johnson’s special ops crew.Combined, they felt plausible against one mother of a villain.
Yes, a quick Google search tells me that the Statham’s character is Deckard Shaw. But let’s be real. Jason Statham is an action movie icon. His surprise mid-credits murder of a really likable character was an interesting way to bring Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift into the wider continuity – one of those pesky things reviewers always mentioned. Be sure though, Fast and Furious is thoroughly tying up all those annoying loose ends films 2-4 present them with.
ANYWAY, BACK TO THE STATHAM.
A fearless, cunning bastard with military training that has been a “ghost” since his government decided he was too dangerous to live. He’s resourceful and a genuine threat, creating some of the closest near misses in the series to date. He is a live grenade ready to cause havoc.
In Fast 5 and 6 the villains have mirrored and challenged Dom’s values, and in 7, Statham’s penchant for family is frequently reminded. Here’s the catch – in the last film’s concluding battle Statham’s evil brother fell out of a plane half way through taking off. This means the film wastes no time setting up motivation – from the second the film starts Statham has a grudge match big enough to end the crew.
A special mention to the idea that not all villains have to die. The possibility of a Statham/Luke Evans team-up is a cool prospect to keep for a rainy day.
Naturally, the stunts were incredible and ridiculous at the same time. Not all were in the trailer either – something you don’t get in your superhero films. The obligatory babes were also present, more organically incorporated into the story than last time though. A cameo from Iggy Azaelea was cringeworthy – why?! – so just add it to the list of “Awful Cameos from Rappers in a Fast and Furious Movie”.
The soundtrack was a sweet tribute to Paul Walker. See You Again is a rap song by Wiz Kahlifa – featuring artist on Fast Six’s celebratory party anthem We Own It – anchored by a pop-ballad chorus from up and coming crooner Charlie Puth. A touching change of pace for a testosterone-fuelled franchise.
At the end of the day it was an awesome display of stunts from a badass cast that respectfully acknowledged the untimely passing of their friend. The Statham is the best villain the franchise has ever been afforded and the prospect of an eighth instalment doesn’t sound tiresome. It sounds cool.
Fast Six is one of the most profitable movies of all time because people know what they want. Fast Seven only raised the bar further. As long as they keep delivering there is no reason to stop.