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'Furious 7' gives fans fast cars, explosions -- and tears

By JOEY OSTER/ VN FILM CRITIC
On April 7, 2015

A wise man once said, “You got to give the people want they want.”

The “Fast & Furious” franchise knows this and lives and dies with it.

“Furious 7,” directed by James Wan, is more of the same. It plays to the inner 14-year-old boy in all of us, an achievement to which most summer-movie tentpoles desperately aspire.

Give us fast cars, fiery explosions and attractive sexualized females and the mass movie-going public will shell out the cash.

“Furious 7” doesn’t merely incorporate these elements; it shoves them down our throat.

In all honesty, there were six close-ups of a female’s backside within the first ten minutes, with only more to come.

Many of the stunts are staged with the creative implausibility of a Hot Wheels-obsessed 9-year-old, which should be taken as a compliment in the highest form.

Cars are dropped from planes as if they were a paratrooping Special Ops team. 

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (the late Paul Walker) drive a car out the window of a skyscraper only to fly through the air and crash through the window of the neighboring skyscraper. This happens twice.

It’s a bit tongue-in-cheeky, yet just enough overly serious to be completely enjoyable.

Nearly every single line of dialogue is some form of action-movie cliché, but it’s kind of awesome.

A smile crept across my face every time Diesel opened his mouth. He’s not a great actor, but at least he’s sincere.

I had a similar reaction in every scene to Dwayne Johnson, who plays Hobbs, except he’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from Diesel.

Johnson is a quality actor with great comedic timing and seemingly a bit of self-awareness. He’s in an over-the-top action movie, and he knows it.

“Fast & Furious” has a weird history for an action franchise. Always monetarily successful (sans 2006’s “Tokyo Drift”), the first three films were met with a ho-hum reception from audiences and fans alike.

The franchise then sort of rebooted itself in 2009.

The fourth film, reuniting the original cast, was aptly titled “Fast & Furious,” even though the 2001 installment was called “The Fast and the Furious.”

It was here, but more so in 2011’s “Fast Five,” where the franchise realized its potential. It started giving the people what they wanted on a more grandiose scale.

“Furious 7” gets there, even while lacking the punch and shock-and-awe of “Fast Five.” It seems to sacrifice that in favor of more human emotion.

This would be ideal in most films. Here it feels too uneven to totally work.

With the reboot, the film franchise also decided to go for broke with the underlying theme of Dom’s unconditional love for his family, comprised of Walker, Johnson, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster.

Diesel hammers this home at any opportune moment. 

I always thought this was as corny as hell. I was wrong.

With the news of Paul Walker’s death in late 2013 (as well as some false Internet reports), I was under the impression that Walker’s character Brian would be “killed off,” for lack of a better phrase, in the seventh installment.

At certain moments, it seems as if this will happen. There are at least two near-death scenes involving Walker.

I kept waiting for this to happen, but it never does.

Instead, the film’s final moments are a beautiful and emotionally devastating tribute to Walker’s legacy in the franchise and his bond with Diesel.

It’s beyond weird to consider that 2015’s most emotional moment on screen might come from a film in which Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson flexes his bicep and his full arm cast shatters off.

Still, Walker’s tribute is flawless, in spite of Wiz Khalifa on the soundtrack.

I was stunned at the gravity of it and how it hit me.

Honestly.

My eyes began to perspire.

“Fast & Furious” could go on for another ten years, easily, even though it should not.

It’ll have to choose between hundreds of millions of more dollars, or perfectly riding off into the sunset.

I would choose the latter, but Hollywood always chooses the former.

FINAL GRADE: B

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