By Christopher Lawrence
The Las Vegas Review Journal
If you want to enjoy “Furious 7” — and by all rights you should; it’s a silly good time — you can’t question it, and you certainly can’t fight it. Much like a skid, your only hope is to steer into the lunacy.
You might, for instance, doubt that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) could get from Los Angeles to Tokyo, locate and kill Han (Sung Kang) and ship a bomb from Tokyo to L.A. to blow up Dom’s (Vin Diesel) house, all in little more than 24 hours.
You could wonder why a mysterious government official (Kurt Russell) who’s desperately searching for a stolen surveillance program would recruit a bunch of street racers to retrieve it instead of, say, a team of mercenaries or other trained killers.
You could even ask yourself, as the characters do, why a Jordanian prince would keep a $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport, which clocks a top speed of 242 mph, inside his 80th floor penthouse in Abu Dhabi.
But the last one’s easy. It’s so Dom and Brian (the late Paul Walker) can drive it out the window, through a neighboring skyscraper and into a third tower, where the wreckage destroys an art gallery.
Sure, the whole thing makes zero sense. If it were possible to make negative sense, “Furious 7” would do just that. But if nothing else, the latest installment gives fans exactly what they want.
Picking up more than a year after 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6,” the sequel finds Brian adjusting to domestic life with Mia (Jordana Brewster), where his most harrowing adventure is navigating the drop-off lane at their son’s school in his minivan. “Don’t worry,” a teacher tells him, “you’ll get used to this in no time.” “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Brian replies.
But his doldrums are soon shaken by that bomb, part of Deckard’s plan for avenging what Dom, Brian and the rest of the team did to his brother, “Fast & Furious 6” villain Owen (Luke Evans).
That comes after Deckard breaks into the L.A. office of the Diplomatic Security Service to get information on Owen’s assailants, brutally sidelines Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) for most of the movie and causes Han’s fiery wreck that’s recycled yet again after having been seen in 2006’s “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and “Fast & Furious 6.”
Before Dom is able to exact his revenge on Deckard, he’s intercepted by a shadowy figure (Russell) who calls himself Mr. Nobody.
A hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) has created a program called “God’s Eye” that can access every digital device in the hemisphere and use them to track any suspect, a la the ending of “The Dark Knight.” Ramsey and the device have been kidnapped by a mercenary (Djimon Hounsou), and the U.S. government needs to retrieve both. So if Dom and the team can pull that off, Mr. Nobody will let them use the tracking system until they locate the elusive Deckard.
This leads to such common-sense solutions as parachuting five cars onto a mountain pass in Azerbaijan as well as the aforementioned skyscraper jumping.
After having dispatched Gina Carano in “Fast & Furious 6,” Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who still can’t remember her life with Dom after being reported dead in 2009’s “Fast & Furious,” gets to brawl with UFC superstar Ronda Rousey while both of them are decked out in evening gowns.
And tech wiz Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and big-mouthed Roman (Tyrese Gibson) showcase their playful banter that’s been a hallmark of the franchise since 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” and is just one example of the cast’s remarkable chemistry.
Director James Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious” and “The Conjuring”) takes over from Justin Lin, who had helmed the previous four films, without missing a beat. He’s helped by the way screenwriter Chris Morgan, who’s been on board since “Tokyo Drift,” continues to take the team in surprising directions. Not only have they become indestructible — well, except for poor, dead Han — at this point, they’re basically The Avengers, complete with the requisite demolition of entire city blocks. If there’s an eighth movie, I fully expect Dom and the gang to go to the moon.
In many ways, though, “Furious 7” feels like a final chapter, thanks in part to its numerous callbacks to the original. And Walker’s death in 2013, before filming was completed, hangs over the entire movie.
Hearing Brian confront his mortality and tell Mia, who’s been sent to the Dominican Republic for safety, to move on if he doesn’t make it back from the mission takes on a whole new gravity. And by using Walker’s brothers as well as footage from the other films, the producers were able to engineer a touching send-off for both Brian and Walker.
Diesel could be forgiven for not wanting to continue the franchise without the man he’s repeatedly called his brother.
But should he opt to return, the victory lap of “Furious 7” proves there’s still plenty of gas left in the tank.
Christopher Lawrence is an entertainment writer the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @life_onthecouch.
Movie review: Suspend all belief in reality Furious 7’ is just fun
By Christopher Lawrence