Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015)

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An entirely unhinged masterclass in the shamelessly bombastic, Furious 7 picks right up where its immediate predecessor left off with Owen Shaw (Dominic Cooper) comatose as brother Deckard (Jason Statham) vows to avenge him. With Deckard out for blood, getting the band back together becomes another consecutive necessity if Brian, Dom and the gang are to survive and apprehend their assailant. Spanning the breadth of the globe in a manner not uncharacteristic of the franchise, what ensues is a star-studded race against the clock for a cast of characters as long as a gang member’s rap sheet.

In parting ways with series veteran Justin Lin, Furious 7 finds an arguably superior successor in James Wan’s admirably emulative stylings. Although pandering by way of general oppressiveness, the product placement and slow-mo female ass cheeks become entirely forgivable thanks to an entirely self-aware mantra. With the only unifying theme being that of “family” over the course of four films, supporting characters and dialogue serve solely either frame or pad out a sequence for better or worse, the former being exemplified by Tony Jaa’s inclusion.

Excess one-liners aside, the breaks in action are usually peppered with one-off expository tidbits that require minimal viewer investment. For better or worse these interactions unfailingly boil down to key players, objectives and locations that lend themselves nicely to some of the best action you’ll see in years. Take the beautifully sun-drenched if largely needless Abu Dhabi sequence. Without spoiling any specifics, therein resides a trio of skyscrapers. They’re tall, as skyscrapers are. Without definitively knowing whether or not the team needs to step foot inside them, one can assume that something’s falling off of, crashing through or into one if not all of them. This is just one of the things that’s so laudably no-frills and concise about these films’ no-fucks-given formula that’s on full display here.

It goes without saying that the film’s more kinetically-inclined merits warrant most of its praise. Wan’s evocatively faithful incorporation of even the most minute technical flourishes don’t go unnoticed, each increasingly grandiose set piece somehow topping the one preceding it until it inevitably peaks and peters off. The narrative remains as choppily presented as its shaky cam-infused fire and fistfights, however the lack of or inclusion of details and individuals becomes a foreseeable afterthought in the wake of ceaseless wanton chaos.

In perpetuating the vulgar auteurist’s gusto of preceding entries, Furious 7‘s self-aware exploitation of what it does best breezily tops the series’ comparable and captivating singularity. Nearly every action-oriented avenue is explored and nigh-reinvented through one meticulously choreographed sequence after the next, and frankly, plainness and purposeful simplicity of formula becomes an afterthought at the hands of unfettered escapism. The phrase “singularly formulaic” could be used in this case, what with the longevity of the Fast & Furious films’ success banking largely on the niche that Lin, Wan and scribe Chris Morgan have successfully – and lucratively – carved out for them. Furious 7 then by-and-large remains a product of streamlined audience expectations, more specifically a variation of how they feel about past films in comparison to each other, that is unless they’ve seldom or never piqued one’s interest in the first place.

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2 comments on “Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015)

  1. I’m still surprised this became such a big franchise! After the 2nd and 3rd films I thought it was over (plus I grew up while these films retained their youthful stupidity, so my ideas of good shifted) but instead it’s grown and is even bigger than when it started. I saw Tokyo Drift on TV last night and the dialogue was terrible! But, it had a nice shot where wind blew a girls skirt up, so…

    • afilmodyssey says:

      Ha! Tokyo Drift is certainly an odd duck in that regard, then again the dialogue spread across the entire franchise leaves something to be desired. I stopped paying attention to the sequels as well following 2 Fast 2 Furious because of their “stupidity,” but they’ve grown on me thanks to their shameless self-confidence and commitment to formula. Thanks for the read!

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