Furious 7 (2015)

When I first saw the title of the movie, I thought it was going to be a new interpretation of the Magnificent 7/7 Samurai. Instead, it is the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious movie franchise, and I have seen all six of the others. This movie takes the pure insanity of the others to a whole new level. And this is a level that has spinning shots of people doing things... lots of spinning shots.

Hey, Sung Kang's character finally dies, so we can assume the events of the third movie happen sometime between the end of the last movie and about five minutes into this movie. Also, we now get the most unlimited car budget that anyone has ever had. We get lots of old-school American muscle, some sportscars, some supercars, some hypercars, and an inexplicable product placement of a Dodge Charger.

We add some people to the mix, too. This movie is starting to look like the slightly younger version of the Expendables series. We seem to add people in every movie, and they are people who have carried other movies alone. This time, we add Kurt Russel as the spook who has unlimited resources, yet he relies on Vin Deisel and the gang because of ... reasons. And they are going after Jason Statham, who is the ultimate bad guy bad-ass. Few and far between are the roles where Jason is the bad guy, and he's a good one.

Tony Jaa makes his triumphant Hollywood return in this movie. He's done some really crappy movies since Ong Bak (like Ong Bak 2 and Ong Bak 3) and he essentially plays the role that Jet Li plays in the Expendables. Djimon Hounsou, the guy who was Russel Crow's best friend in Gladiator, is another bad guy. I'm not sure we ever get the complete story on this guy, his motivations, his background, or care about him in any way.

When you have an action scene between Vin and Statham, what do you do? That's right, you make it nearly unwatchable by making the cameras shake the whole time, zoom in and zoom in even more, add some quick cuts, and then have the camera roll around on the ground. I mean... jeebus. What the hell? And an action scene with Tony Jaa beating on Paul Walker? I wish I could properly follow what was going on, but they have to confuse things to give Paul any kind of a chance. Fact is, Tony really needed to be able to stretch his legs in the fight scenes, and they didn't really give him much of a chance.

You have to watch movies like this with a certain (read: very high) level of suspension of disbelief. For example, I was really surprised that they went with a car virtually no one has ever heard of like the Lykan HyperSport. They then sent that car from the penthouse of one skyscraper to another by doing the one thing that they do in these movies: drive really fast. They then go from that penthouse to the next by... driving really fast. The brakes don't work! The throttle appears to be stuck, but Vin changes gear. Why couldn't he have just stuck it in neutral and pulled the emergency brake? Suspend your disbelief.

Direction was not great
Effects were pretty good
Acting was pretty bland
Cinematography was not particularly good
Story was flat-out bad.

Bottom Line: It is as much a popcorn film as they get. As such, it was a good one. As film, it was not advancing the trade.

2.25/5

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