Review: Furious 7

Furious-7 Making the seventh outing in a franchise that should have seemingly never made it past three films is an amazing accomplishment in its own right. Somehow the Fast and the Furious series has made it this far, and seems to have enough fuel to make it to the obvious goal of ten films. With the lose of Paul Walker, a mainstay since the original 2001 film, it would be a slightly tough road to say goodbye, pay homage, and continue the insane action of the series in one single outing. Furious 7 not only handles these tasks with ease, it actually surpassed anyone’s possible expectations and leaves the audience wanting even more.

New to the franchise was director James Wan, who took over for Justin Lin after his very successful re-ignition of the fledgling series. Wan was able to bring the beloved over-the-top insanity back and in spades. Fans of Justin Lin’s work will be happy to see that there was no missteps in the changing of the guard. Every bit of overly dramatic family focused wink and a smile action beat was present in the series.

The events of Furious 7 pick up right after the previous film. We find Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in a hospital bed clinging to life as his big brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) vows to get revenge on whomever hurt Owen. Its a simple scene but there is so much more once their 'touching' reunion is over. From there Deckard is on the hunt for information about his brother’s assailants. He visits Hobbs (The Rock) and get information on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew. The close combat action sequences were uniquely shot and brought a level of freshness to the franchise. Rotating cameras, inventive shooting angles, and well choreographed fights made me smile. Its funny to think that we have a film series that is so silly in premise but delivers on action far better than most. There are a lot of lessons modern action films could learn from a couple of DVD player thieves in hooked up cars.

In the midst of all of this, Dom and crew are recruited to help track down and rescue a hacker who has software that could be helpful in stopping Deckard. Once again, the stakes are high and the team needs to use their unique skills of driving to be successful. The length that they go to pull off these elaborate stunts is breathtaking. Its pure fun and adrenaline red lining from beginning to end and frankly I was exhausted by how much fun I was having. After seeing Fast 6, I didn’t know how they could possibly top it, but Furious 7 is much like the Shaw brothers. If you thought the first one was tough wait until you get a look at its bigger and badder brother.

All of the main actors that we have followed since the 2001 film were still great here. Vin Diesel leads his crew of misfits with ease per usual, Michelle Rodriguez has come back and her presence is fully felt as a true member of the team again. Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson continue to be hilarious comic relief and their dynamic is about pitch perfect here as well. Last but certainly not least, Paul Walker. He has never been a stellar actor but he always seemed like he was genuinely having such a great time with his close friends. The film’s final send off to the character of Brian O’Conner and even more so Paul Walker himself, was really quite touching. For hardcore Fast and Furious fans, you can’t help but to get a little choked up as they used the proper story elements to end his time with the crew while simultaneously saying goodbye to their “brother.” Stellar work all the way around, and any fans of the series are sure to love it, and it might convert some newcomers to go back and start from the beginning.

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Review: Fast & Furious 6

Fast & Furious 6

When you go to watch the 6th iteration of a franchise, your first thought is probably to expect a terrible mess of a movie. I'm here to tell you that with this particular movie it not only destroys that notion but ends up being if not the best or one of best movies in the franchise. When we last left our rag tag team of criminals, they were robbing a big time drug dealer in South America. With that task out of the way they've all gone their separate ways to enjoy the fruits of their labor. We open to Dom Torreto (Diesel) and Brian O'Conner (Walker) racing down a winding mountain side road to meet up with his wife as she is pregnant with child. The rest of the crew are scattered across the world until Hobbs (The Rock) needs their help to take down an extremely efficient criminal named Shaw (Evans) who somehow has ties to Letty (Rodriguez).

From here on out the movie moves from one insane action sequence to another. Within 10-15 minutes of the opening credits (which are badass by the way) we are treated to a 10 minute car chase the likes of which I have personally never seen before. While this sequence was amazing the only issue I had with it was the fact that the cameras were way to close to the action. I'd would have liked to see some more wide shots but that's just my personal preference. Each scene in the movie does a great job moving the plot along nicely. Yes this movie actually has a fairly decent plot that you'll actually remember when all is said and done. The cast feels really comfortable with each other. From Roman's (Tyrese) constant wise cracks which are actually pretty damn funny to Tejs (Ludacris) calm demeanor, everyone meshes with each other which really adds to the movie's charm. Aside from obvious plot points, nothing seems really forced. There are some cool twists and turns for those that have followed the series since the beginning and some nods to previous films. If you're the type of person that doesn't give a damn about plot however, this movie caters to your action fix in spades.

Most movies of this type have one final action sequence to wrap everything up. This movie punches those movies square in the face and steals their lunch money because it has two sequences! The first of which I yelled out (which I never do) "This movie has gone off the rails." I was cackling like a child in the theater at what I was witnessing on screen. To my delight this wasn't even the final showdown. It's hard for me to even say which one I enjoyed more. I will say any wrestling fan will get an absolute kick out of one scene.

I absolutely loved this movie and would not mind in the least going to see it again. Hey Die Hard, you need to take a cue from this franchise and come correct with your next movie because that last one sucked!!!

4 1/4 miles out of 5