Friday, April 3, 2015

Furious 7 (2015) Review:

When a series hits theaters with an entry that has reached beyond two trilogies, it shows that something is being done correctly (and I don't mean straight to Direct-to-Video releases). Amazingly for all the flack the first number of films critics gave it, each entry managed to become better and better. All around they were good popcorn action flicks that kept things moving (rightfully so). However it wasn't until about Fast & Furious 6 (2013) that it felt like the story to these characters was beginning to grow into a powerhouse with real substance. This particular aura only became more potent with the untimely death of actor Paul Walker, who essentially was the core of it all. Vin Diesel was also the main character but Paul Walker's character was how it all began. To say that the last couple of films have been the best is now only an understatement. This IS the franchise's greatest output thus far and a satisfying closure for Paul Walker.

More fighting baldies!
After Dominic Toretto and Co. defeated Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in the last film, Deckard Shaw (Jason Stathom) Owen's older brother returns to finish the job. Unfortunately, capturing Shaw won't be any easier than tasks given before. After putting Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital, Dominic and Co. are recruited by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a friend of Hobbs to bring Shaw in, which also requires a prior favor. The favor is getting a flashdrive with important info on it by saving a computer hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) from a ruthless arms dealer named Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). It is a lot to take in but it can be digested. Chris Morgan's screenplay is for the most part at the top of his game. The timeline is correctly working in order the minute it starts and continuity is kept tight. All main characters that have faded into the background remain; audiences just see less of them. All backstories and subplots are completed the way they should've been.

All actors are worthy of the role they play (including new additions). Nathalie Emmanuel plays her part smart enough to compliment Tej's (Ludacris) wits. Kurt Russell's big return to mainstream theater releases is also a grand welcome. Russell is able to play his character comically while also being serious. Jason Stathom also looked like he enjoyed his role. Considering he usually doesn't play villains, it certainly wasn't his usual typecast. Djimon Hounsou as the arms dealer was probably the only character that was the least interesting. He had a significant part; it just wasn't memorable. Every other main cast member to this film has mastered his or her role. One of the big reasons why there are no flaws in the main casts' performances is because of how real the relationships are. All the emotions shared on screen feel real because they are real. That means comical, serious, dramatic and heartfelt moments. The interactions are as authentic as they get. With only Paul Walker having half his scenes filmed when he passed, the end result is again only several times truer than they could have ever been.

Cinematography provided by longtime veteran Stephen F. Windon & additionally by Marc Spicer hasn’t lost the touch. With sweeping wide panning shots of various landscapes from the Middle East to the city streets looks great. The action was well staged too. James Wan was a smart replacement for Justin Lin because of his experience with Death Sentence (2007). As ridiculous as the action keeps getting in the series, this was by far the most creative. So many things happen that many viewers may not expect (other than what the trailer showed). The choreography and special effects all worked well in the mix too. Viewers should not be able to tell what scenes Paul Walker missed. It's as good as Brandon Lee's The Crow (1994). You really can't tell. This shows that everyone in this production did it for Paul and it's sincere it in its delivery.

You will be missed Paul
Surprisingly, even the music by composer Brian Tyler was an improvement. Unfortunately, for such a long running franchise there is still no main theme. Aside from this though, the action scenes do have energetic tunes to maintain proper flow. However, it is the emotional scenes either between Dominic and Letty or Brian and Mia (it's mostly for Brian though) that the cues Tyler creates for these moments that truly standout. Plus with some of the exchanges the conversations have, it hits closer to home because of the knowledge that Paul Walker is no longer around. If there's anything to say about the movie that doesn't feel right, it's the fact that so much destruction happens in all these recent entries that the physics do not apply anymore. Seriously, these characters are superhuman! Viewers can't even knock on Letty's amnesia or that no consequences come to these characters after all the destruction because if you’re a fan for this long, nobody honestly cares.

Of all the installments before, it cannot be denied that this is by far its greatest accomplishment. In order to agree with this, you have to be a fan of the franchise or at least find them moderately entertaining; and to make it through 6 films before this, you must be dedicated. Its action is even more over the top than before with physics that still do not apply regularly but every other element overrules them by an enormous margin. Paul Walker's last film is a respectful and loyal knockout to the end.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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