$147 million domestically over the weekend…
I want to like Furious 7, I really do, because in theory this is the kind of dumb fun action movie I cut my teeth on. But Furious 7, though wildly successful and spurring the franchise to new heights, actually shows exactly what’s gone wrong in this franchise, and demonstrates how far from its roots it has gotten. The Fast and the Furious is basically just Point Break with cars, and that’s FINE. The original movie, and its first set of goofy sequels, is just about good looking people having hijinks in fast cars. That’s all this franchise ever should have been. In a perfect world, the Fast/Furious franchise would be an Indiana Jones-style series of revolving locales and characters where the only constant is Some Guy/Girl and a fast car.
But then, after a three-year hiatus, Fast/Furious was brought back in 2009, and this time, everyone took the goofy car version of Point Break SERIOUSLY. And thus we arrive at Furious 7, the loudest, dumbest, most boring and sensory-assaulting movie since Trans4mers. Half of this movie is actually a solid car chase movie involving personal vendettas enacted On The Streets—what these movies always should have been—but the other half of this movie is an insane would-be superhero flick about flying cars and indestructible super-beings whose ability to survive anything up to and including having buildings dropped on their heads completely kills any stakes in the proceedings. You never worry anyone is going to die because NOBODY EVER DIES. Not even Paul Walker’s character gets to go down like a badass. Instead, he’s sent off with a whimper and a power ballad.
The decent half of Furious 7 is about Jason Statham seeking revenge on Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Walker) for putting the hurt on his brother in the previous movie. Statham was actually involved in Tokyo Drift, but that never comes up, even though Dom actually goes to Tokyo at one point and has an entirely pointless conversation with the Tokyo Drift guy. Correction—one person does die in this movie, Sung Kang’s character, Han. At his funeral, they act like everyone they know has recently died, but it’s just Han. I mean, Brian’s house is blown up right in front of his entire family and no one is even injured, despite the fact that his house was completely levelled.
The dumb half of Furious 7 is an overcomplicated plot in which a mysterious hacker—is there any other kind?—has created the plot device from The Dark Knight that allows the user to tap into all cell phones and camera systems to find a target. Batman Power is a hot commodity, so a mysterious CIA agent—IS THERE ANY OTHER KIND?—recruits Dom and Brian to rescue the hacker, steal the Batman Power, which they can then use to find Jason Statham. There’s a mysterious black ops security crew—IS THERE ANY OTHER KIND?—involved, and there are numerous plot threads that go nowhere. The CIA agent is played by Kurt Russell—who is the only person who understands the kind of movie he’s in—and he has a thing about his Belgian beer. At one point he tells Dom he should REALLY TRY the Belgian beer, and I expected it to pay off in some way, like the beer hides an explosive, or it’s secretly acid, or something like that. But no, it’s just a Chekhov’s gun that exists solely for product placement.
There’s also an amnesia subplot revolving around Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) because this movie’s attempts at drama are all straight out of the Days of Our Lives playbook. Amnesia, alpha males burdened by domesticity, repeated oaths of family and honor—everyone seems to think Furious 7 is the f*cking Godfather, but it’s POINT BREAK WITH CARS. Why are you overcomplicating it? The plot about Jason Statham singling out Dom’s crew for revenge is enough. At two hours and seventeen minutes this movie is way too long, and cutting the Batman Power plot would go a long way to fixing that.
When it’s just people punching each other in the face or racing cars in the street, Furious 7 is enjoyable. But when it’s crashing cars through buildings or the Dom And Letty Amnesia Show, it’s intolerable. I really hope Fast 8 or whatever they’ll call it is just a bare-knuckle street racer story with none of the CIA/hacker/indestructible super-beings with flying cars bullsh*t. This franchise needs to go back to its roots.