That extra time director James Wan and the makers of Furious 7 took was worth it. And not just because the story, written by Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson, took the cars and the people who’ve piloted them through this successful franchise to the most adrenaline-pumping places a movie-goer could cheer.
Although there was plenty of genuine crowd gusto for a Saturday matinee performance as Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson did what they’ve done so well since the first installment in 2001: Have their characters plot some, mix some, plot some more, and drive as much as possible.
The dilemma for 7 has been known since Walker died in a non-work related car crash while the movie was being filmed in November 2013. That forced everybody involved to work through the grief and sadness of loss as well as the physical and technical aspects of Walker’s removal for the conclusion of the process. So they reworked some scenes, and his brothers both became involved in the remaining filming, too.
The final story focuses on their love for Walker’s character Brian O’Conner, the feeling of family that’s been forged over time after his undercover cop walked into their gang way back when, decided they were good people, and forged a bond over danger and success.
The plot centers around the emergence of a bad guy set to make amends for the way they handled his brother in 6. Joel Statham is terrifically bad as villain Deckard Shaw, a match in wits and physical skill for Johnson’s Hobbs and Diesel’s Dominic Toretto in so many steps down the line.
The gang encounters interesting characters in our spy world and his, and Kurt Russell and Nathalie Emmanuel own the camera as Mr. Nobody and Ramsey, respectively, in their scenes, as they jet around the world hunting and dodging and doing what they’ve done so well so far: outlandishly putting fortified and souped up cars in places nobody in the crowd would dream to be but would love to think they’d be able to steer out of somehow given, say, 1001 chances and a really great crash suit. And a life insurance policy.
The makers, though, wisely put all back in the hometown of Los Angeles for the finish, though, to mix action with heart, adrenaline with love, unbelievability with fairytale finishes everybody hopes for in their lives every day.
Fast, yes these 132 minutes were, even though the word was dropped from the title for 7. Furious, definitely. Finished, with an exclamation point, and then an extra paragraph of tribute that was worded just right.