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By Tom Clift
April 02, 2015
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Fast & Furious 7

The most over-the-top film in the franchise so far. And that's a good thing.
By Tom Clift
April 02, 2015
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Fast cars, pulse-pounding action and plot holes bigger than the veins in Dwayne Johnson’s biceps: the seventh entry in the Fast and/or Furious franchise delivers everything fans have come to expect. And yes, to be clear, we mean that as a compliment.

In an age where most Hollywood blockbusters do everything they can to seem dark and gritty, this souped-up seven-part soap opera drives straight in the other direction, delivering delightfully silly, self-aware thrills at every possible turn. The most over-the-top film in the franchise so far, Fast & Furious 7 doesn’t just jump the shark; it sails over the shark’s head at 245mph, in a $3.5 million Lykan Hypersport, in slow motion, while half a dozen strippers dance to a Wiz Khalifa song playing in the background.

The 'plot' of the film sees Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his hetero life partner Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) back on the streets of Los Angeles after earning a pardon for six movies’ worth of crimes. Unfortunately for them, their newfound tranquillity is short-lived, as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham playing the same character he always does, only evil) shows up to avenge his brother Luke, aka the bad guy from Fast & Furious 6. Dom and Brian’s only option is to team up with Agent Frank Petty (franchise newbie Kurt Russell), who promises to help them deal with Shaw in exchange for rescuing a computer hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) from a group of international terrorists.

Of course, in order to manage such a mission, they’ll need their regular crew, including Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges). Think of them as being kind of like the Avengers, only more racially diverse, and marginally less bound by the laws of physics or common sense. If they’ve got time, they might even be able to solve the mystery of who keeps stealing the sleeves off Vin Diesel’s shirts.

Australian director James Wan takes over from four-time franchise helmsman Justin Lin, and manages to capture the film’s many, many action scenes with similarly explosive aplomb. Silliness aside, one of the great things about this series is how it opts for actual stunt-work and stunt driving instead of just relying on digital effects. That said, we kind of suspect the scene in which a car is driven out the side of a skyscraper and through the side of another probably benefited from a little bit of computer-generated magic.

To say that that sequence isn’t even the most ridiculous thing about Fast & Furious 7 should really drive home just how absurd this movie is. To their credit though, the cast still play it 100% straight, and in doing so have managed to get this franchise to that sweet spot where even its legitimately terrible moments — including maybe the most blatant moment of product placement in the history of modern cinema — still manage to be kind of entertaining.

Well, almost. We’ve gotta say that Wan’s use of the Michael Bay ass-cam on any and all female extras gets creepy pretty fast. It doesn’t help that the once gender-balanced cast of heroes has basically been reduced to a bunch of bros plus Michelle Rodriguez. Definitely something they should correct in Fast & Furious 8. Apparently Helen Mirren has already put her hand up to play the villain. Now that would be amazing.

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