Back in 2001, when Universal Studios realized fast cars could equate money, The Fast & The Furious was actually about racing. The two stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were at the center of a film I doubt anyone understood would be going stronger than ever after installment number seven. The series reinvention along the way is unprecedented, and now instead of a racing film with flashy cars, it’s more about stunts and vehicular warfare.  Furious 7 (according to horror film director James Wan, references the iconic seven samurai, apparently he is unfamiliar with the other 6 films) will likely break box office records and give the franchise it’s biggest debut yet; most likely accredited to the tragic death of Paul Walker. In a film series that promotes reckless driving, living on the edge, and the ability to crash cars every way possible and survive, at least Walker died doing something he loved.  

 When Dominic Toretto’s crew stopped Shaw (Luke Evans) in London last time, they had no idea they would awaken the beast of a brother Deckard Shaw (Statham) who is called the mercenary of evil and is ex special ops. “We are being hunted,” Toretto (Diesel) explains to his crew, which now offer more serious consequences since Brian (Walker) is a dad. With Hobbs (Johnson) in the hospital, the original crew must touch down, literally in the mountain ranges of Azerbaijan to acquire God’s Eye program creator Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is the only person with access to the dangerous spy tracking device. With the intruding technology and the help of the US Government spy Mr. Nobody (Russell), they will attempt stop Deckard before he kills anyone else.

 The nearly two and a half hour action film starts back where it began, with Toretto and Letty in race wars, looking more like spring break in Florida than a celebration of speed. The script flirts with the notion of Furious 7 as the series finale. “One last ride”, Toretto says, but we all know there is too much money to be made to quit now. From the moment the first big bald headed duel happens, the film jolts into overdrive and never lets up. By the time the second big bald headed duel is on screen we have seen so many stunts repeated twice it’s ludicrous and I don’t mean the actor.  If you are a fan of these films, you already know what to expect, and have made up your mind you love it before the opening credits. If you are watching this only to see how well the filmmakers recreated the scenes of Brian without Walker, that might be the only real suspense. They do a good job for the normal movie fan, but for anyone else it becomes a game of trying to figure out when Walker’s brothers were used, the stunt double or a Walker computer recreated face.

 “I’m gonna put a hurt on him so bad his mother will wish she had kept her legs closed,” Hobbs boasts about his revenge tactics on Shaw. The script understands that due to Walker’s death, audience are going to be more forgiving regardless of what they sling on screen, so the dialogue is cheesier than Cheetos. Poor Lucas Black, who led the third film, Tokyo Drift, returns for a brief cameo and let’s just say age hasn’t been to kind to him. The one suspenseful scene involves Brian, a bus, and a cliff, everything else plays with predicable outcomes and even the parachuting car sequence feels reheated after what Aaron Paul did in Need For Speed last year. Toretto does give us hope that Thelma & Louise might have survived, in an eye rolling car dive off a cliff, further fueling the notion that death defying car stunts will leave you unscathed. The final five minutes of the film are almost worth enduring the preceding two hours of stupidity, too bad we didn’t get more character development over the past seven films to really feel something.

 Final Thought – Like watching the same thing 7 times, only louder, dumber, and more obnoxious as the numeral grows.

 By: Dustin Chase

Grade C