Movie Review: “Furious Seven”

furious 7I actually made it out of the house to see a movie last week. This is a pretty rare occurrence since I have a pretty active home life and, quite frankly, most movies that come out I’m only passingly interested in. Certainly not enough to spend $12 to see them.

So, you may ask, why did I waste hard earned money of Furious Seven?

As Mallory once proclaimed regarding Mt Everest: “Because it is there”.

(Also, a friend asked me to go see it with her husband so that she wouldn’t have to.)

Before we even begin, let’s level set some expectations. This is not high cinema. No one expects it to be. If you go into this anticipating Gone With The Wind on wheels, you’re going to be unbelievably disappointed. This is B-movie popcorn fair, period. As such, it hits all the right notes.

Everything about Furious Seven is overblown and overdone. The opening sequence (some minor spoilers follow) featuring Jonathan Statham as Deckard Shaw sets the stage for the rest of the film. The film opens with him talking to his younger brother who has been put in the hospital by Vin Diesel’s F&F crew (see the sixth installment for the details).  As the camera begins to pull back and we see the state of the hospital, we gain a dawning understanding that the chaos that Shaw is capable of delivering. Even as parts of the hospital fall down around him, he remains completely unscathed. It’s the kind of over the top opening that sets the character up as a villain to be feared and reckoned with, while simultaneously letting us know that this film is going to be nothing short of over ridiculous, with each sequence trying to top the sequence before it.

By and large, the movie is full of this level of absurdity. The car chases are physics-defying. The dialogue is so cliché that you come to expect it, and that any dialogue that doesn’t fit into what is essentially a movie comic book feels out of place. The fight sequences are bone shattering, without any bones actually being shattered. The sound effects when The Rock hits Statham should have its own sound effects bubble. THWOK! KAPOW! (The best fight sequence in the movie actually belongs to Michelle Rodriguez, who is forced into a mano-e-mano with Ronda Rousey.) The finally sequence requires the most suspension of disbelief I’ve needed in the past decade. How is it that Shaw, the F&F crew, and an out of control terrorist, played by Djimon Hounsou (he seems to be playing a lot of villains recently) can destroy most of downtown LA and I only counted three cop cars before the final fight was over?

But this is why we go to these movies. We don’t go to see reality. We go to be entertained, and as such, Furious Seven is one of the most entertaining films you’ll see all year. Well, at least until the next Avengers movie.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the gray cloud hanging over the movie, and my guess as to why it’s made a bo-billion dollars in the first few weeks: Paul Walker.

Walker’s death was a shocking blow to this franchise and its players, all of whom had grown very close. His death sent Michelle Rodriguez into self-destructive nosedive she has only recently pulled up from. The curious are flocking to this movie to see how they finished it without him. I was no exception to the curiosity. The verdict: seamless. The vast majority of the principal photography must have been complete at the time of his death, with body doubles (played by his surviving brothers) filling in occasionally. The end sequence is particularly affecting, scripted as if a decision had been made to write Walker out of the film franchise prior to his death. It ends up being a fitting coda for his involvement in the series.

In short, this movie is nothing but silly fun. If that’s what you’re looking for this April, look no further.

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