It seems difficult to remember now but the Fast and Furious franchise had quite humble beginnings. Starting life as a niche B movie piece about cars and their racers the franchise has transformed over the years into a multi million dollar mega force, one that comes with an A list cast and explosions to spare.
Directed by James Wan the seventh entry in the series could have been forgiven for a dip in quality, the shocking death of lead star Paul Walker mid production left the director with a huge task on his hands. So it is testament to Wan and the rest of the cast and crew that Fast and Furious 7 is perhaps the most enjoyable entry into the series yet.
It goes without saying that the film continues the series’ trend of being utterly ridiculous; the explosions are bigger, gravity is defied more than it ever has been and the film’s final sequence is akin to a kid just chucking all his toys up in the air and seeing where all the helicopters, tanks and cars land. That being said, it’s bloody good fun.
The Fast and Furious franchise has never been one for priding itself on its logic and the latest entry is no different. The film’s central set pieces are the most preposterous yet and include a car smashing through buildings in Abu Dhabi, Paul Walker escaping an Italian Job inspired situation by running up a bus and Vin Diesel stomping his foot and destroying a car park, Bruce Banner eat your heart out.
Comparisons to superhero movies are easy to make. The film has turned a gang of street racers in souped up cars into a team of invincibles who cause chaos all around the globe all in the name of family with seemingly no consequences.
Adding to this is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as police officer Hobbs. Johnson is perfectly suited to these films- the actor has an undeniable charisma that manages to make the movies most ridiculous moments seem likable, with him supplying the film with some of its silliest moments in the final act.
Joining The Rock and the rest of the Usual Suspects are Kurt Russell, who chews the scenery as the head of a government organisation with a thing for winking and Jason Statham who is a delight as the film’s antagonist Deckard Shaw, a terminator like ex-assassin who is like a deadly combination of government intelligence and the military.
The main talking point of the film however is Paul Walker, who tragically passed away during the filming of the movie. Those unaware of these circumstances would barely notice the difference however as thanks to a smart combination of CGI and the use of his real life brother Caleb the change is barely noticeable.
Huge credit here must be given to director James Wan and screen writer Chris Morgan who have managed to deal with the situation with dignity with the series’ motif of family finally paying off. The film’s final sequence is a dignified and touching tribute to Paul which says a tender goodbye to both the actor and the character.
Fast and Furious 7 is by no means a masterpiece but as brain dead popcorn entertainment goes it doesn’t get much better. A fitting tribute to Paul Walker perhaps now is the time for the franchise to head off into the sunset and leave on a high.