James Wan turns the franchise back into being a strong example of good senseless fun
Paul Walker's character Brian O'Connar done right
(Warning: This review contains spoilers)
After the postponement of release due to the fatal accident of Paul Walker halfway through production, it is good to see that this seventh instalment of the highly popular action franchise is successfully released without much of a hiccup. The story links back to the timeline of the third instalment Tokyo Drift (2006) and the post-events of the previous film where it is revealed that Han's (Sung Kang) death was actually caused by the Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the brother of the now-bedridden antagonist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his "family" are forced back into action as Deckard, to avenge his brother, is determined to kill them all by using his skills as a former government secret agent.
Let's face it, it's not an original concept nor does it have a complicated plot with good story. It's basically another sequel of a franchise that's similar to The Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven or Mission: Impossible but with sport cars as the main attraction. But it does have a good engaging mix of multiracial main characters with tight chemistry, who are, like Dominic says, "family". Vin Diesel still brings a lot of macho leadership presence for his buff and indestructible lead role. Despite the shocking sudden death of Paul Walker, his character Brian O'Connar is very much involved throughout the movie in every activity and action scenes. It can be noticed that in some scenes it's not really Walker, could be his brothers with CGI makeup, but it's very commendable the way it is done, providing the illusion that Walker is present in the entire film, including the tear-jerking ending to honourably send off, retire and pay tribute to the character and the late actor, which was written and filmed after Walker's death.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson reprises his role as Luke Hobbs, a Diplomatic Security Service agent who became a friend of the family since Fast 5 (2011), which was perhaps the best instalment of the franchise. Hobbs is like a corny video game secret character just like in the previous films, he'd just appear out of no where to save the day as though he has sixth sense to know what exactly's happening and he could teleport to where his help is needed just in time, every time. Funny thing is that Hobbs could get severely injured jumping out of a not-so-tall building but in Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Dominic doesn't even get much of a scratch being thrown off by a tank from one bridge to another. However, Hobbs' broken bones recover in seemingly a matter of weeks conveniently to jump right into action from the hospital. But well, you never expect too much realism or consistency from a franchise such as this.
This is the non-horror directorial debut for James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw) and he puts his camera works to good use for all the cool over-the-top action sequences. At times it made me felt like I'm watching a horror film, as though something would suddenly explode out loud at any time. Although the film is 2 hours and a quarter long, it didn't feel boring or bloated like Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). Each action scene is rather unique, from cars skydiving off a carrier, to highly expensive rare car speeding out of the wall from one tall building to another, with a lot happening in between (like the decent fist fights) but never confusing. It defies the law of gravity and the timing in certain scenes are way off, like how Letty's turbo-charged car can be so conveniently slower just to make it seem like she's just in time to save Brian from falling off a cliff. But it works and somewhat gripping. It's a non-gritty action flick with license to be unrealistic, but it's not too unbelievable, and that's good enough of a thrill for me.
With Chris Morgan, the same writer the franchise had since third instalment, I didn't expect lesser plot holes, conveniences or cheesy dialogues than before. He did a good job rewriting the script to properly retire Paul Walker's character instead of simply killing him off. However, it would've been better if the film implies how the crew could just get away from the dessert in Abu Dhabi after stealing from the prince and destroying the buildings there, or how they are allowed to walk away from the havoc, wrecks, explosions and probably deaths they caused back in the US at the end.
Fast & Furious 7 may not be logical nor does it make any sense at times, but if you've seen the previous films, you should already expect all that. It is true to its franchise featuring simple plot, obscenely sexy babes, rubbish hip hop music, Roman Pearce comic relief and, of course, loads of heavy duty action that involves expensive sport cars. James Wan's approach succeeds in bringing the franchise back down to an acceptable stupidity, executed the gripping action scenes very well and managed to keep Brian O'Connar in all activities throughout the film as though Paul Walker completed the film.
What I would've named the film: "Fast & Furious: Ghost Protocol" or "FF7: Not Final Fantasy VII"
Malaysia censorship: Not sure if it's edited but there are some out-of-place slow motion sequences during shots of bikini babes.
To watch in 3D? I didn't watch it in 3D but I don't think it was filmed for the format. Too many things happening and shots and angles changing back and forth. It may be more impactful to watch on a D-Box seat though.
Second opinion: My girlfriend felt that it was cheesy but entertaining as well, loved the cinematography but the massive action in the last act did give her eyes a bit of a challenge.
Verdict: If you liked the previous two instalments, this one wouldn't disappoint. Leave your brains under your bed, let loose and just enjoy the ride.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Running Time: 137 minutes
Director: James Wan
Screenwriter: Chris Morgan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jason Statham
Malaysia Release Date: 1 April 2015
Local Distributor: United International Pictures Malaysia
Production: Original Film, One Race Films, Relativity Media
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