“One last ride,” or so they say! The Fast franchise cow will be milked just a little bit more, but this is the last ride with Mr. Paul Walker who tragically passed away in November 2013. Due to his tragic passing, his two brothers helped finish the movie for him, with a little help from CGI. James Wan’s transition from horror to action was a solid first attempt, making Furious 7 a wholesome action movie serving as a great tribute to Paul Walker.
We start off right where we left in Fast & Furious 6. Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) is assumed deceased after being kicked off a plane by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). In the opening scene to Furious 7 we see an incapacitated Shaw being comforted by his big bad brother, Deckard (Jason Statham). He vows to take care of the ones who were responsible and leaves the hospital, in shambles, full of dead SWAT members.
On the other side, the gang does their best at assimilating themselves back to civilian life. Dom does his best to piece back old memories to help Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) reclaim or recall them and herself. It is all too much for her when the go to Race Wars (a throwback to The Fast and the Furious). She tells Dom she wants to find herself on her own and drives off distraught. As for Brian (Paul Walker), he is having the most difficulty with the normal life. Of all the characters, Brian has always been the one closest to death. If you look back to the first one, he was an undercover cop and then he worked for the U.S. Customs and then becomes an FBI agent. When Dom asks Brian if he misses all the girls and the cars he replies, “No, I miss the bullets.” Brian is now a father living with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) in the Toretto house and their son Jack (Miller + Chris Kimsey).
The whole Fast world, first Lin, and now Wan’s, come together after the death of Han which took place in the third film, Tokyo Drift. The non-linear plot finally connects and we are now in the present when an unexpected package is sent to the Toretto/O’Connor household, a very dangerous warning from Deckard Shaw, whose mission is to wipe them all off. The timeline for the Fast saga is finally up to date.
Suddenly the gang’s Zen is destroyed. Dom is pissed for his family, Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) are scared to death and Brian has to decide to seek justice or to stay behind with his family. Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) gets into a little brawl with Deckard, so he is left behind to heal, and we are soon introduced to another bureaucrat with infinite power (Kurt Russell, having the time of his life). The rest of the plotting at this point is formulaic at its best: Big government guy helps; you can do this and that if you do this and that for us first, and all the fun and games begin.
The movie is a lot of the same but it is always in good taste. The series never takes itself too seriously and I guess that’s one underlying factor on why these movies are so beloved and Michael Bay’s is the operatic garbage of the cinema. When there is suspense in a Fast movie you aren’t thinking, “Oh my god, how is he going to survive?” You’re really thinking, “What is he going to survive from?” It’s this positive suspense that sets these movies apart from other action movies. They are so religiously devout to keeping the family alive.
In the end, the good triumphs over the bad (you knew this would be the outcome before the trailer even came out…) and yes, the last twenty minutes will have you shed a tear or two and reminisce the past six movies. Walker’s tribute was done in such excellent fashion. No sappy sentimentality, just a montage of his character and himself, a lost bad ass that we will all truly miss. James Wan’s first attempt in direction an action movie was more than admirable. Lin’s style was more seasoned and tailored by the time the sixth one was released, but they have chosen an excellent director moving forward with the franchise. I look forward to the next one and I even feel confident about it, even without Paul Walker.