Friday, 3 April 2015
REVIEW: FURIOUS 7
134 Minutes. Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordan Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Jason Stathman, Lucas Black, Djimon Hounsou, Ronda Rousey & Kurt Russell. Director: James Wan.
"Great vengeance and furious anger", striking "those who attempt to poison and destroy" Diesel's brothers is the petrol that ignites the fast revenge of 'Furious 7's pulp fiction. The holy number of seven across religion and culture, marking the end of these seven days on this Good Friday, just days after Paul Walker's birthday brings a Fast Friday like no other. For this is for him. And this Easter weekend after all the Oscar parties are now just a Kodak picture, the Summer blockbuster season of Marvel, monsters and machines begins early with this checkered flag that makes its popcorn movie, fuel converted popping redefinition, head start, injected by trademark nitrous for the petrol porn age of boys toys. 'The Fast And Furious' was an instant classic like no other, back when it was released in 2001, before this franchise would add lanes and lanes of sequels in a decade and a half of chicanes later. '2 Fast, 2 Furious' added another double act of stars to the buddy, daylight car robbery, before 'Tokyo Drift' spun this franchise in another direction via Japan and a whole new continent of a cast. Then almost titled the confusingly same as the first, but dubbed 'New Model, Original Parts', the fourth installment 'Fast and Furious' brought it all back to the roots of this franchises gears for arguably one of the best 'Fasts'. That was until 'Fast Five' added a Rock and some more faces from an old place for that 'Oceans Eleven' meets 'Italian Job' crime caper. Giving this 'Furious' ride more torque, this kept this speed racer motoring on across oceans to the streets of London for the sixth installment. Now breakfast can wait with this meal ticket as you don't need to shake your cereal boxes anymore for more of these toy cars. All sorts of familiar cover star faces are back in a film where you'll finally believe a car can fly. From sky-diving out of planes and abseiling down rocky mountains, to jumping between buildings in Abu Dhabi that make Tom Cruise's 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol' leap between buildings in Dubai look like a cakewalk, not a glass, tallest skyscraper one. This car carnage just found another gear that could take it all the way to a top ten, when most thought it would be gone in 60 seconds. As Paul Walker now so bittersweet says; "just when you thought it couldn't get any better"!
Diesel is still the engine that keeps this star vehicle humming at the concrete of the lights like his trademark, gravel grounded chords. The franchise king who can now add the barking, three worded voice of a tree for Groot in 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' to his 'Riddick' sidekick side-project, will always sit on poll here. As the leading man when it comes to being one of the last few, real, remaining, Die-Hard action heroes in his prime (you know he's a Hollywood hard-man when he even gets married in a string vest). Even his classic car isn't 'Expendable'. Still as the American muscle faces off with one here, 'Transporter' star Jason Statham gives our hero the action Jackson nemesis he deserves for the lights and camera. Facing off in a classic, socket wrench street showdown that makes cars the new Wild West, holster gun-slinging draws in this stare down face off. If you thought those punch-ups with The Rock where classic, this is just a pebble in the water compared to what you're about to see here. Especially with Dwyane Johnson still cooking and wrestling with it all, as our new action hero fighting for sport, one man chisel and charisma cavalry, complete with Arnie, Terminating Gatling. Stath, the big, bad brother of last movies London baddie Luke Evans is primed to tie these things together. Bringing another 'Expendable' action star into the honed frame as UFC fighter Ronda Rousey tags in for Gina Carano (almost like the hip and happening cameo of rapper Iggy Azalea does fancily for Rita Ora), whilst 'Ong-Bak' megastar maestro Tony Jaa adds so much more kick to this push start Luckily for Vin his family comes first and Statham's 'Death Race' co-star and singer Tyrese Gibson is back in the drivers seat with his car radio on loud for a motor-mouth, mean-mugging performance that shows exactly why the 'Southpaw' star is probably about to add a 'Green Lantern' script to the all-action table read next to his 'Desert Eagle' one in this ride along too. Add the tech and rapping Ludacris to the console as a USB like plug-in to this drive and its a production that beats to the streets of tires and treads. From the funny to the heart-warming, the ride or die women of Michelle Rodriguez and Jordan Brewster and their emotional core and soul step it up once again to show you why they've been here from the start and will always stay. Still if nostalgia's in your rearview then how about some more Lucas Black for the road that bridges the gap from Texas to Tokyo like the road return of Mrs Thor, Elsa Patakay? More tinkering also adds 'Game Of Thrones' talent Nathalie Emmanuel to this one of cars with the departure of dear faces like 'Wonder Woman' Gal Gadot and drift king catalyst Sung Kang. Also riding casting shotgun are 'Gladiators' like Djimon Hounsou for extra intensity and the old hand of 'Death Proof' Kurt Russell who escapes from retirement to L.A. to add more legend and a classic action hero to a stellar series that's already ran its own legacy.
Still for all the new age, thrash metal, chrome and paint action and hallmark, city of lost angels, 'Race Wars' nostalgia that Justin Lin replacing, 'Insidious' director James Wan can creatively and classily conjure up, its the heart that matters the most. And looking under the hood of this machine and you'll see that the heart lies with Paul Walker. Now resting peacefully, the tragic, late superstar who died in an automobile accident, over an all too soon year ago, comes alive here for one last ride on a tear and tear. This is in part to the parcel of his definitive delivery, thanks to the digital help of his two brave brothers Codey and Caleb and this films trunk load of a budget. It's a valiant effort of the whole brotherhood here for a man that means so much to this franchise and its family of friends. One that is digitally and practically seamless doing this man as proud as they are of him. Now although how tragic and emotional it is to watch (just like hauntingly and heartbreakingly hearing him ask; "what's one more funeral?") this man in his final few hours of film, what a final film it is for him. Even though it is still heartbreakingly unbelievable to realise that he is really gone for the saddest screen time shine we've seen since the late, great, tragic but beautiful, Heath Ledger performance in 'The Dark Knight'. Here Walker is running, going all-action hero with core, coming to terms with life itself, hard to heart emotional acting accents. All his might and muster with as much brains as bullets and more chambers to the hands and heart of an action star with more smarts than the genre usually grants. There's so many thrilling set-pieces and stunts here he really was giving his all in every scintillating scene, pulling no punches, physical or psychological. Just like he lived his life in the more respectful way of saying it as, ceasing every moment by the horns, just like this films steering wheel and shift. The superstar talent who was showing more acting range and diversity on later movies like the heartbreaking 'Hours' and strong 'Brick Mansions' has been here since the first twist of the key in the ignition, only missing one film in the trip to Tokyo. To imagine this franchise now changing lanes and going in a different direction from and without a co-headliner as prominent and important to this franchise as his Diesel sidekick is lump in the throat, hard to believe. Still life must go on like this saint Paul would have wished and wanted. And as these counting car movies look to move to the Big Apple of the core of New York for at least three more laps, they will always honour their flagship driver in this his victory lap. As for the flashback and character to actor, send-off tribute, we don't want to add a spoiler to this motor moment. But trust us its worthy of your tears as it is worthy of a man whose weight can be measured on more than just living a quarter mile at a time on a dime. As hauntingly poignant as Paul Walker once said; "If one day the speed kills me, do not cry because I was smiling," we can't help but shed one more tribute tear for that last smile and goodbye. For him though, meeting his brother at the lights, side by side once again, like they where always meant to be, "just like old times", Paul Walker's name will live and drive on. TIM DAVID HARVEY.