When you review a movie, it is often prudent to reproduce some of the plot in order for those who haven't seen it, or have no intention of seeing it, to be able to follow what you are saying. Judging from the fact I went to a showing a week after it opened, at 1:30pm on a Wednesday, and it was sold out, it's safe to say you've seen it. I will spare you.
The movie is pure insanity. Imagine giving the kid at your school who played with matches, an entire arsenal of flamethrowers. Then, throw him in a room with every other kid who ever played with matches, with similar arsenals, and let them do whatever they want. The chaos that ensues might come close to describing exactly what happens in Furious 7.
Ever since the third movie in Tokyo was met with a lukewarm response, the Fast series has endeavoured to pile on top of each iteration the kind of special effects that would make Star Wars seem like a plausible occurrence in the 1970s. In much the same way that The Rock stacks his pancakes of a morning, the Fast series has gotten more and more outrageous. From the beginning of Fast Five, when Dom is encased in a miliatry spec bus on his way to prison, and the team hijack it, basically destroy and explode it, as Dom casually walks out of it with nought but a scratch on him, the director has pushed the envelope of just how much absurdity an audience is willing to handle in order to be entertained. If you thought that ridiculously long runway in Fast 6, at the end of which they shoot down a plane (with Dom in it) whilst Dom walks out free as a bird was a little bit implausible, you may find yourself scoffing at the brilliance of Fast 7.
I say brilliance, because it genuinely is. I mean, who in the world sits at their computer and thinks that Paul running up the side of an overturned bus as it slides off the edge a cliff isn't quite exciting enough? Who then decides to have Letty turn up, 4 wheel drifting her American muscle car so the back wheels are inches from that same cliff, whilst Paul flies through the air, grabbing hold of the spoiler, and miss death by mere milimetres? Who decides to jump a Lykan between 3 sky scrapers? Who decides that Hobbs should turn up unnanounced and drive off a bridge, crashing in to a drone, and surviving in good enough health to then shoot down a helicopter with a hand gun? I mean come on!!! Maybe one or two of those things, but there's about 10 in this movie that just defies conventional imagination!
If you're tired out just reading that, Fast 7 is not for you. The plot is not laughable, but it's more unlikely than a Vin Diesel lean bulking cycle. Who is that weird man who drinks Belgian beer? Why is he so intent on helping Dom and his crew, to the point where he almost lays down his own life? How did Hobbs know where the drone was in order to take it out? How, if they were able to manually override the security system of an entire Abu Dhabi sky scraper, is that system then able to override them? And how does everyone else get out of that situation? How does Deckard keep turning up all over the place? Who in the world is Mando? If you thought any of those things during the movie, you thought waaaaaaaaaay too hard.
The problem is if you scratch at the surface, the whole thing begins to fall apart. The acting can be, at times, just truly horrible. Vin Diesel is like a slug on valium unless there is a fight scene. He delivers lines as if he has been the victim of a botched lobotomy, and his words of wisdom about family are fresh and emotional only due to the horrible implications of what they mean off screen. The Rock is The Rock. He is like Arnie. He delivers these incredible one liners that, in isolation, sound ridiculous, but in the context of the movie they are like a shot of adrenalin, they pump you up and have you jumping out of your seat screaming "Fuck yeah get that up ya!!". (Don't do this cause they may ask you to leave the cinema if you do it too many times). Letty is even slower than Dom though.. Her performance is static and wooden, she is the action version of Nicole Kidman. Her facial expression barely changes, and if she has ever experienced joy in her life, it was many many moons ago, because she seems incapable of portraying that on screen. The saddest part is the marginalisation of Tyrese and Ludacris. Luda is actually a decent actor! If you watch him closely he rarely misses a cue and rarely seems out of place amongst his more experienced cohorts. Tyrese is hilarious! He does get a role in this movie, but it is just comic foil, whereas in 5 and 6 he was one of the leading lights, his personality shining through the cold steel of Dom and Letty. Almost every line he delivered was met with laughs, and, in contrast to Dom, Letty and even Hobbs at times, it feels natural and organic rather than scripted.
Paul Walker, and I refer to him as Paul throughout this review and not his on screen character of Brian because to all of us Brian is now Paul. His performance is on par with that of his performance in the rest of the series. That is to say, he is stellar, and he stands out against the rest of the crew. The movies have been cast so brilliantly. Paul is the energetic, loveable, relatable guy who takes the route most of us would take. The way he gets out of conundrums and dangerous situations is not based on crazy plots or insane ideas, he does it using common sense and intelligence. His energy is infectious.
On Paul, the director and his staff must be commended on an incredible performance. It is obvious at times that he wasn't there for some scenes, but in no way does it take away from the movie, and if you didn't know the back story, you wouldn't recognise it at all. It's brilliant.
I just listed a bunch of negatives, and yet gave this movie a 9/10. It's an absolute riot. The action, the energy, the absurdity. If you go to the movies to be entertained, this will satisfy. You will be happy paying your $25, or whatever Event Cinema decides to gouge you out of. It's more fun than a Rock cheat meal! The cinematography is just awe-inspiring. How you can make a car jumping between sky scrapers look real is beyond me. The plot is fine. There are no 'OMG I didn't see that coming' moments outside of the insane action, but it moves along very nicely. The only truly poor part was when Dom is 'brought back to life' not by resuscitation, but by Letty regaining her memory. It loses a solid point for that. Despite that fact that tears were running down my face at that point, it was more due to the fact I knew what was coming rather than what was happening on screen.
The tribute. The whole movie is a tribute to Paul Walker. The way he illuminates every single scene he is in. It's not heavy handed in the slightest. If you think Paul telling Mia he loves her over and over is out of place, you haven't seen the previous movies. Their love, whilst not a focal point or even a particularly well-executed out plot point, has always felt genuine and real and never forced. It's a testament to the two strongest actors in the franchise that they have skirted around some poor script writing and cobbled together a believable relationship.
The ending is a tear jerker. It is the best thought out, best written part of the entire movie series, period. It isn't sappy, it isn't heart-wrenching. It isn't even part of the movie. Think of it as an additional ending, separate from the movie. But it's brutal. If you have invested as much time and emotional energy in to this film series as I have, Paul's death was already a difficult thing to deal with. Seeing him on screen like that, and knowing the relationship the actors had off the screen was serious.
RIP Paul Walker. What a way to be immortalised.