Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 8.50.37 PMDirector: James Wan

Writers: Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring:

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto

Jordana Brewster as Dom’s Sister Mia

Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner

Michelle Rodriguez as Letty

Tyrese Gibson as Roman

Ludacris as Tej

Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs

Elsa Pateky as Elena

Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey

Kurt Russel as Mr. Nobody

Jason Stathem As Deckard Dhaw

Djemon Hounsou as Jakande

Tony Jaa as Kiet

Ronda Rousey as Kara

The Fast and Furious franchise, in this outing, has transmogrified into a decidedly cartoonish spectacle, but that’s OK, because the movie has effortlessly made truckloads of money, and who cares about the laws of physics and probability anyway, particularly if they get in the way of beautiful, bikinied women with giggling breasts (and other parts), and a Ronda Rousey/Michelle Rodriguez fight scene?

Let’s get the production value issues out of the way immediately. This is a professionally made movie. The lighting, sound, sets, props, costumes, makeup and computer generated imagery are all first rate. As most readers doubtless know, Paul Walker was killed in a car crash before production for this movie was completed, so some scenes were put together with CGI, and the script was altered to accommodate that reality. In the final scene of the movie, for example, a sharp eye can tell that the depth of field between them is off a bit as Walker and Diesel appear on camera together the last time, however, the emotion and pathos of the moment tend to mask it, and it’s not truly a flaw, just an artifact of the techniques necessary to make the shot.

What do I mean by cartoonish? In the opening scene we meet Jason Stathem as Deckard Shaw. He’s visiting his catatonic brother, Owen Shaw, in a British hospital. Dom put Shaw there in the 6th edition of the franchise, and Deckard is annoyed, and of course, swears revenge. As he scowls, utters a few low threats, and walks out, we see the bodies of cops and others strewn about like confetti after a ticker tape parade. Bullet holes are everywhere, broken furniture, even the façade of the hospital is on fire and falling apart as Shaw drives menacingly off.

We’re quickly told that Letty still has amnesia, and of course, she and Dom are conflicted. There’s a great deal of conflicted going on.

Most viewers will not be conflicted, however, by the usual shots of car race parties with slinky, bikinied women slinking slinkily around. This movie is slightly different in that the camera manages several close up shots not usually seen outside a gynecologist’s exam room.

Dom takes Letty to a race they invented, she races and wins, and has flashbacks to her crash, belts one of their old buddies and drives off, conflicted, but Dom lets her go because a conflicted girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Paul Walker’s Brian shows up as a new dad driving a minivan. The horror! He loves Mia (Jordana Brewster)and his child, but he’s conflicted. How can an ex-cop who gets away with committing crimes on an unimaginable scale possibly find happiness as a mini-van driving metrosexual? Talk about conflicted!

In a dramatic scene at Letty’s grave, Letty decides to leave to find herself because a girl who doesn’t know who she is has to somehow find herself, and Dom lets her go, and stands there stoically because it’s in the script.

Shift to Los Angeles, the Diplomatic Security Service headquarters, where we see a tender–brother/sister scene with Hobbs and Elena. We still have no idea what the DSS, people who are basically security personnel for diplomatic missions, has to do with any of this, but it’s in the script too, and Hobbs is a walking cartoon, so what the hey?

Shaw shows up, which makes for a dandy fight scene where Shaw and Hobbs trade blows that would kill elephants, and basically trash the entire office building, ending only when a grenade thrown by Shaw blows Hobbs and Elena out a 20th, or 100th–or something–story window, and Hobbs ends up with a broken leg and arm and Shaw stretches a bit and walks away.

We eventually learn that Shaw was a super duper British special forces operator. His people turned on him and tried to kill him, so he went off the grid until Dom almost killed his evil brother, thus setting up the revenge plot that makes this movie nearly plausible. Oh yes: it was Shaw that killed Han, and as in the past movies, there is time travel that makes no sense whatever, but hey, it’s in the script.

Dom goes to Tokyo to get Han’s body, where he meets Sean Boswell played by Lucas Black, who is still hanging around Tokyo. In a very brief scene, Boswell gives Dom a cross Han apparently wore. It’s a scene the movie could eliminate without anyone missing it, but it does set up Han’s funeral where Shaw shows up, and Dom, driving a 70’s Chrysler muscle car, gets into a wild chase with Shaw’s Jag.

credit: scott garfield universal

credit: scott garfield universal

This sets up a head-on game of chicken where Dom and Shaw run into each other at a closing speed of about 200 MPH and absolutely destroy their vehicles. I’m not sure if they actually filmed the crash or did it via CGI, but the alignment is perfect and the engines of both cars are clearly driven into their respective back seats. This sets up one of the cartoonish elements of the movie: people pulling more gravities than every astronaut that has ever traveled in space.

The forces unleashed in that crash should have liquified Dom and Shaw, yet both open doors that should have been absolutely unable to open, and step out. Doing a bit of manly stretching and neck straightening, and Shaw, coward that he is, tries to shoot Dom rather than fight it out like men, but suddenly, militaryish operators–they look the part, anyway–rappel from the overpass above them, shooting like mad, but absolutely unable to hit Shaw who runs off and escapes.

This is where Kurt Russel as Mr. Nobody shows up. He’s the head of a super secret agency that has apparently unlimited facilities and resources, including right there in LA. He tells Dom that he inadvertently walked into his war in London and now he’s stuck in it, so off they go to his base, where we see what appears to be a civilian version(?!) of a Cobra attack helicopter casually parked out front.

But how to get even more improbable adventure out of this? Nobody explains that a hacker named Ramsey has invented a device that hacks into everything–God’s Eye–that will make its user omniscient and omnipotent. Alas, Ramsey has been kidnapped by evil mercenaries led by Jakande, who are moving Ramsey to a secret site, but they’re doing it by convoy in the Caucasus in Azerbijan, but Nobody knows when and where. How does Dom come in? Why, the government can’t do a thing, and only Dom and his crew can save the day, and if they get the God’s eye, they can use it to find Shaw. The crew shows up–including Letty–Roman behaves like an cartoonish idiot, and they quickly rig up a bunch of 60’s and 70’s muscle cars like Baja machines in preparation.

credit: scott garfield universal

credit: scott garfield universal

So how do they intercept a convoy of heavily armed mercs on mountain roads in Azerbaijan? They parachute–in their cars!–out of a cargo jet, and despite bailing out at intervals that would spread them across a continent, they manage to form up in an automotive stick, and land, right side up and perfectly oriented on the road, going in the right direction at precisely the right time. I trust I don’t have to explain how impossible, indeed, absolutely absurd, this is, but what the heck; it’s in the script.

Oh, and why would mercenaries drive all over the place like that in a long convoy with a black-painted bus(?!) that would stand out like a Nevada hooker at a Baptist mother’s convention when they could just transport the hacker by helicopter or plane? Because every action in these movies must somehow be contrived around 60s and 70s muscle cars, racing, and slinky bikinied babes. Not that I’m complaining, mind you–at least not about the babes.

The bus has three electrically driven gatling guns on each side in the cargo hold–why wouldn’t your average evil mercs think to do that?–and other vehicles with machine guns, so Dom and his team get a bit shot up, but they blow the back off the bus and Brian jumps in and unarmed, takes on about 10 heavily armed mercs hand to hand and defeats them all except Kiet–Tony Jaa–when they’re down to Kiet and the bus driver. In the process, Brian discovers the Ramsey is a beautiful babe!–who could have seen that one coming?–and in a dramatic scene, the bus ends up on its side, teetering on the ledge of a high and deadly cliff. Brian makes it out only with the help of Letty in a dramatic scene–haven’t I said that already?–and off Dom and Ramsey go, but oh noes! Shaw has showed up in a proper off-road vehicle!

How is it people like Shaw can show up in purpose built off-road vehicles, but Dom always has to cobble things together out of 40ish year old street clunkers? Anyway, Dom is cornered by multiple mercs at the edge of a cliff, so he makes a smokescreen–I’m not giving everything away–and drives off a cliff, again pulling enough Gs to turn Ramsey and him into jelly, but they both crawl out of the wreck only mildly discomfited–their pals happen to show up exactly where they ended up at the bottom of the cliff just in time, and they have only a few visible scrapes.

By this point, the only Hollywood car crash convention that hasn’t appeared is that the bus and Dom’s car did not explode and burst into flames when they crashed.

Ramsey and the team bond, and we learn that she sent the device she made–she’s a hacker, not an electronics engineer, but it’s in the script–to a pal in Abu Dhabi for safekeeping, so the team is on the way there on a cargo plane, which gives Dom a chance to make a little speech about family to Brian. When they arrive, they’re driving five brand new, high dollar sports cars. This also leads to another gynecological beach scene where we are treated to several loving close ups of Ramsey’s fluid and perky breasts. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But how can we get another action scene out of fluid and perky breasts?

We meet the Arab party boy Ramsey entrusted with God’s Eye and discover he sold it to a Jordanian Prince who, for some reason, installed it in a bazillion dollar sports car, which he keeps in his penthouse (?!) at the top of a quadrillion story tower, one of three right next to each other. Why would he keep a sports car in his penthouse? Read on.

credit: scott garfield universal

credit: scott garfield universal

The Party boy gets everyone into the tower the next day for a party in the penthouse–isn’t that convenient?–and everyone has to dress up. On the way up in the elevator Dom and Letty have a tender moment and she is hit with more memories. She’s getting closer, closer…

At the party we find gold painted go-go dancers ala Goldfinger, and lots of scantily clad, undulating slinky babes. We also find Ronda Rowsey in a slinky dress, accompanied by several Arab women in military dress, all of whom are the Prince’s bodyguards. Rowsey is not a slinky little babe, but she oozes raw athleticism and feline grace, so once again, I’m not complaining.

Finding the sports car, Dom lifts the front end off the ground, and Brian slides under, but can’t get the God’s Eye out in time. While Dom is sweating, Roman tries to schmooze the crowd but behaves, as usual, like a grinning moron, and Ronda, Letty and the Arab girls have it out. Letty has to flatten the Arabs first, and then she and Ronda go at it, rolling around a great deal, and finally falling off a balcony together and smashing the DJ’s equipment.

credit: thecrazycouponlady.com

credit: thecrazycouponlady.com

By then, Dom and Brian have stolen the car, Shaw has showed up and is shooting up the place–the car just happens to be bullet proof–and Dom and Brian escape by smashing out of the tower and flying through the air in precisely the perfect trajectory to land in an unoccupied floor of the adjacent tower! Again, they’re pulling enough Gs to turn them into KY Jelly, but all they do is grimace a bit, which come to think of it, most folks do around KY Jelly. But oh noes! No brakes! What’s a buff and grimacing car thief to do, but floor the accelerator and jump to the next tower, pull a billion Gs again, land perfectly on an occupied floor, smash what appear to be priceless archeological and art treasures, and leap out of the car just before it flies out the other side and plunges to its pancaking on the pavement, far, far below. Oh yes: Brian got the doohickie out of the car in the nick of time.

Mr. Nobody shows up and is as good as his word. Dom locates Shaw in a nearby abandoned factory, and Mr. Nobody, his soldiers, Dom and Brian go to catch Shaw, who is reinforced by the evil mercenaries from the earlier scene. Much shooting ensues, Mr. Nobody is shot, and Dom and Brian must flee. But oh noes! Shaw has the God’s Eye!

Mr. Nobody was wearing body armor and is only somewhat injured, and has a helicopter already on the way for him, so Dom and the crew go back to LA, their home turf, for the dramatic climax, this time without KY jelly, but with lots of Gs.

There is a manly scene were Dom returns to the garage of his bombed home, to get “THE CAR,” a massive muscle car with a huge supercharger hanging out of the hood. This tells us he is serious because he grimaces and mutters “one last ride.”

Their plan: to use Ramsey to hack the God’s Eye and turn it against the mercs, but to do that, they have to drive like maniacs in various vehicles all over LA–of course–which isn’t that bad an idea because the bad guys show up in a bazillion dollar stealth helicopter as big as a CH47, carrying a twin jet powered drone, and both aircraft are armed with Gatling guns and missiles out the wazoo.

This time Dom leads Shaw on a chase and both end up on the top of a parking garage. This time, Dom has the gun, but he manfully drops it and picks up two huge wrenches instead. Shaw picks up two long pieces of debris–oh, didn’t I mention they did the head-on thing again, but this time Dom did a wheelie because it looks cool and sort of didn’t make any difference? They got out of their wrecked cars, stretched out the kinks, and were ready for mayhem.

credit: scott garfield universal

credit: scott garfield universal

As Dom and Shaw beat each other into Ravioli, the chase is on all over the LA streets, and a few cops finally show up, but they get blown up by errant missiles from the drone and helicopter. When the bad guys blow up a multistory antenna tower, Hobbes sees it on TV, and realizing it has to be Dom–who else?–breaks off his cast and steals an ambulance, which is handy as he uses it to run down the drone and save Ramsey and Letty in the nick of time. Of course, he pulls enough Gs to reduce him to pate, but he’s Hobbs, so he grimaces and shakes it off and pulls the Gatling gun out of the wreckage of the drone and limps off with it.

In the meantime, Brian has to get to a rooftop to do some hacking thing to let Ramsey complete her hack, but oh noes! A bunch of mercs, led by the guy Brian fought in the bus, go at it in the building. Brian kills them all but the Asian guy, and they fight and Brian sends him down an elevator shaft and does the electronic thing.

In the meantime, meantime, the bad guys shoot a missile at Dom and Shaw, but are really bad shots, and it only makes the pavement crack, but Dom stomps on the pavement, and it caves in on Shaw, which apparently renders even him unconscious.

But the bad guys in the helicopter still have a machine gun and are shooting up the place, menacing Letty and Ramsey, so Dom takes that last ride, and flies up in his car to hang a bag of grenades on a handy something jutting from the helicopter. Hobbes, seeing it from several blocks away, shoots it with his big revolver, the helicopter blows up and crashes, and everyone runs to pull Dom out of the wrecked car.

This time it looks like the Gs might have done him in, and in a very emotional scene, Letty tells Dom she remembers that they’re married–she finally got it!–which starts Dom’s heart and all is well.

There is a bit more, well done, emotion in the movie, and Dom and Brian say their goodbyes, and drive off, going their separate ways, into the sunset. Actually. Into the sunset.

Think I’ve given everything away? There’s much, much more.

As long as one is able to ignore the absolutely implausible plot twists, the scenes contrived to provide an excuse for doing really stupid, suicidal but flashy things with cars, the fact that Dom and his crew often go into battle with heavily armed mercenaries without carrying a single firearm, and all of the scantily clad, squirming and giggling women–could this have anything to do with the popularity of this movie for adolescent males?–Furious 7 is a fast-paced (pun) action movie that doesn’t disappoint. This movie continues several other features of the previous films, particularly the fact that all of the actors can memorize their lines for virtually any scene from an index card (one side) just before going on set.

As this is written, the movie is by far the most profitable of the series, making at least $1.3 billion dollars worldwide in theatrical release alone (reported in April of 2015). It is at least the fifth biggest movie of all time, and the 8th installment has been in production for some time.

Furious 7 is definitely worth seeing on DVD as long as one has no expectation of a coherent plot, and of fidelity to the laws of physics. But that’s not the point, is it?

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