Fast & Furious 7 (2015)


“It’s never goodbye…”

It’s shocking that not only is “Fast & Furious 7” not only the best entry in the series yet, but it’s also one of the best movies of the year. It’s exciting, it’s engrossing, it’s fun, and goddamn, it’s a heartbreaking last go around for Paul Walker. I say this as someone who openly hated these movies after the first film, but here I am years later, getting teary eyed at the end of a “Fast & Furious” film. In fact, this is also one of the most human sequels of the series, since it deals a lot with consequence, and revenge. Shortly after “Fast 6,” the group finds out that their latest heist has granted them a death ticket. The brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) has come to wreak unholy vengeance on Dominic Toretto and his crew.

Played wonderfully by Jason Statham, the new villain Deckard Shaw is on the scene to avenge his brother who is now in a hospital in critical condition. Along the way he murders a few of the group and sends a painfully clear message that he’s not pulling any punches. When the threat reaches Brian O’Conner’s home and nearly kills his family, Dominic and co. decides to find Deckard. Sadly, they are intercepted by a secret organization run by Frank Petty aka Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell in a dazzling supporting role) who makes a deal with them. If they help retrieve a hacker and her brand new technology named “The Eye of God” that can surveil the entire world, they’ll help bring down Shaw. Now Dom and his group are leading the charge to bring Shaw to justice, but Dom is insistent on keeping Brian safe, especially now that wife Mia is about to have another child.

“Fast & Furious 7” really is the top of the series and what it can accomplish when it concocts some thrilling characters. “Fast 6” successfully created a group that our anti-heroes had to bring down, and “Furious 7” is the immediate fall out. Unlike most action movies we see, this film deals with consequences and what happens when you take down a criminal and anger their even more powerful family and friends. All of the group is on board for this go around which pays lip service to “Tokyo Drift” and the previous films in the series, considerably. There’s a lot of globe trotting as the group jumps from country to country to complete their end game just to beat Shaw. Meanwhile Jason Statham is perfectly cast as a deadly bull of a villain who stops at nothing to murder this group.

He’s one of the few villains that send a shiver down the spine of Dominic Toretto, and director James Wan evokes a perfect energy of urgency and time running out, as the group is either working to save themselves, or are in hiding from Shaw. You can really see them working against the clock to prevent Shaw from murdering another one of their own, meanwhile it doesn’t help that Shaw keeps popping up everywhere they go to keep their tasks from being completed. “Furious 7” is packed to the brim with plot and characters, but thankfully a lot of it is balanced out in the running time with some excellent moments for everyone to shine, all while focusing on the more important central plots.

That said, the movie lags in the middle during the second big heist, while Tyreese and Chris Bridges shtick still isn’t funny and feels so horribly forced most of the time. It thankfully doesn’t bog down what really feels like the rightful end to a pretty exciting movie series. While there’s no doubt there’s going to be more movies on the way, the farewell to Brian (and simultaneous goodbye to Paul Walker) seals this movie series for good. Everything after will just be an epilogue. “Furious 7” has always been about the relationship between Dom, Brian, and Mia, and “Furious 7” effectively closes up that avenue of Dominic Toretto’s character, as well as very neatly closing the character arcs of Mia Toretto and Brian O’Conner. All the while it bids a very respectful farewell to Paul Walker in one of the most heartbreaking finales I’ve seen all year. “Furious 7” is a monster of an action movie, one that’s dripping with heart, soul, and the series’ best villain yet.