Watching Fast and Furious 6 followed by Fast and Furious 7 back-to-back it is clear to see the stark differences between the two, whilst also maintaining the steadfast traditions of the series – OTT car chases, more brawn than brains and funny one liners.
The plot follows Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as he seeks revenge on Dom (Vin Diesel) and his family for what happened to his brother Owen in Fast and Furious 6 whilst handily linking it into the plot of the third entry Tokyo Drift which had previously been completely redundant from the rest of the films.
The main talking point surrounding this instalment is clearly the late Paul Walker, whose untimely and tragic death was met with a beautifully heartfelt tribute at the end of the film. It was a surprisingly emotional scene, something no one probably ever expected to say about a Fast and Furious film. The use of Walker’s character driving away in white car was a powerful yet nuanced image, especially when combined with Wiz Khalifa’s song ‘See You Again’, as the cast said their final farewells to a beloved friend.
It’s not just the final scene that tugged on the heartstrings though, the whole film is slightly tinged with sadness because we all know what is imminent. In previous instalments of this franchise Dom’s constant references to “family” seemed laughably clichéd however this time there’s something about it that really hits home.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the dialogue is as cringe inducing as ever (the chances of it being successful at the Oscars as Vin Diesel keeps suggesting are still incredibly slim) but it’s certainly a step up from previous entries. This time it’s more forgivable though, seeing as the script had to be speedily rewritten when production was halted after half of the movie had been filmed.
One of the most spectacular visual feats of this film was not the explosions nor the car chases (although they were suitably incredible) but the use of CGI on Walker’s body doubles. Not once was it particularly noticeable that it wasn’t him in some of the scenes.
As ever there were some pretty ridiculous set pieces, the most extraordinary of which was definitely one involving a car and three skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi which produced some audible gasps in the audience.
There’s still plenty of humour here as you’d expect, particularly thanks to Roman and Tej bickering and poking fun at the extravagance of everything unfolding onscreen however this is certainly a darker film than those that came before it.
Some of this darkness may stem from director James Wan’s roots in horror films such as Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring, where he has gained notoriety for fast cutting. The use of this technique may make the action seem slightly more cartoonish than brutal by not dwelling on the carnage (in keeping with the tone of the film) but it does add a sense of immediacy to sequences that may otherwise have got lost in a mess of CGI like, for example, the Transformers movies.
Refreshingly they’ve managed to avoid this from just becoming another generic revenge thriller. Jason Statham is the most convincingly threatening villain of the franchise making it the fastest, most furious entry yet.
Whilst Fast and Furious 7 is the longest film in the series, clocking in at 137 minutes, it certainly isn’t noticeable. Some of the chase scenes last almost 20 minutes but you’re just so captivated by it that the time flies by.
It is rare that franchises have as many as seven instalments but it is even rarer that the seventh film is the best in the series by a mile. Not only does it provide the usual crash bang extravaganza that audiences have come to expect, it manages to carry some emotional heft without resorting to cheese and schmaltz.
By Jamie Harris