As the end of Fast & Furious 6 teased, Furious 7 finally brings the Fast and the Furious franchise into a completed continuity, situating the previous three films before The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and paying off some long-brewing conflict.
Furious 7 opens with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother to Fast & Furious 6 villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), as he promises to take out revenge on those who hurt his baby brother. And we quickly see how much damage Deckard can do, as he walks from Owen’s hospital room all through to the outside, a trail of wreckage in his wake. Deckard, it turns out, is an ex-Special Forces assassin, and after he takes out one character, the only way that Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the gang can stay alive is to work with the United States government. The deal: if the gang can secure a piece of stolen technology called the God’s Eye, which has the ability to tap into security cameras, phones and more, they will be given permission to use it to track down Shaw.
This is all basically an excuse for the film to shoot in various locations all over the world. Which is fine: the selling point to the series is getting to watch a bunch of insane car stunts, and Furious 7 makes sure it delivers.
Furious 7 marks a transition for the series on a few fronts. The first, and the most notable as the film entered production, was the hiring of James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) as the film’s director, taking over for Justin Lin, who directed the previous four films. Furious 7 marks Wan’s first foray into action, and he makes the transition from horror exceptionally well. Wan sticks to many of the same stylistic choices Lin used, but also introduces some new techniques that add to the film’s excitement, including a rotating shot that stays on an actor while rotating his environment that’s used several times in the film. The shot doesn’t get old.
Wan also does a commendable job in shooting both the car chases and closer, hand-to-hand combat scenes. While there’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required, Wan still works to make the shots flow as naturally as possible. It’s a tremendous effort, especially given the trickiness that came with filming this particular entry.
Which leads to the bigger transition for the series: the loss of star Paul Walker during filming. Walker shot a large portion of his scenes before his untimely death, and the film fills in the gaps rather well with the use of body doubles, including Walker’s own brothers. Wan wisely avoids showing too much of Walker’s face in these scenes, which helps the film avoid the uncanny valley. The Fast and the Furious franchise has almost always had a strong focus on the idea of family, and that focus helps the series give a proper sendoff to Walker’s character in a way that may come off as slightly cheesy, but completely befitting the series as a heartfelt tribute.
Beyond that, Furious 7 offers pretty much everything a fan of the series could want. The car chases are taken to a whole new level here (rather literally in at least one Dubai-set case), while the dialogue is filled with insane dialogue. Dwayne Johnson’s appearances here are limited to the beginning and end of the film, but he makes the most of his time with a series of one-liners and a flexing shot that should make most audiences hoot and holler.
More than most series, the Fast and the Furious franchise has learned to make the films their audience wants, and they obviously are doing something right. In spite of some changes for the series with this film, Furious 7 manages to work as both a solid entry to the series and a tribute to a prominent reason for the series’ success. Fans should find a lot to enjoy about this entry.