Thursday, April 9, 2015

Furious 7

Mayhem, Fast Cars & Bullets
Director:  James Wan

Cast: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Lucas Black, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, and Jason Statham.

Review by James Colt Harrison

A more ridiculous, but wildly fun, film has not been made. Universal Pictures has put every stunt man in Hollywood to work overtime in this dashingly-made tale of mayhem, speeding cars, and mega-machine guns run amok. Furious 7  takes up where Furious 1 – 6 left off---or whatever they were called--- and outdoes all the crashes, cliff hangers (literally), solid bone-crunching jaw punches, body blows, and impossible-to-get-out-of situations tenfold.

It’s exhilarating to watch a human body survive treatment that would snap a steel bar in half, demolish a locomotive into two or three shredded pieces, or crumple a 747 before your eyes. But the objects of this unceasing bodily harm are Vin Diesel, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson. We know they can’t be hurt because they are movie stars. So they roll with the punches, the bashings, the explosions and come up with only a few well-placed bandages and a Hollywood make-up artists’ smudge and go on to the next scene with nary a brain concussion or severed leg.

Is there a plot? Well, sort of. It’s used loosely to tie the scenes of extreme mayhem together and as a segue to the next incredible car crash. Baddy Statham’s character Deckard Shaw is out for revenge for his brother’s death (Luke Evans) and effectively uses martial arts terror, Chinese film star Tony Jaa to keep turning up to whack the stars over the head, drill holes in them with rapid fire machine guns, or to immobilize them with strategic between-the-legs high kicks. What a guy, that Tony Jaa !

Never mind the plot, written by Chris Morgan, allegedly with a used set of crayons. All fans of this genre really want to see is what the producers did to have the late Paul Walker appear in the film. We must say with all admiration, they did a very tasteful job of having Walker appear throughout the film using Walker’s two brothers as stand-ins. One brother looks exactly like Paul, complete with the Caribbean-depth sparkling blue eyes. It was a touching send off to the actor who left us all much too early in his life.

Audiences are kept literally out of breath trying to figure out what zany stunts are coming up next, and how will the director and stunt people dream up something that is more bizarre than the last. Expensive cars are dropped from a plane and land in Russia with nary a scrape. The crème de la crème scene is crashing a million dollar sports car out of a high rise condo and flying it into the building next door, only to have the car’s brakes fail and go shooting out the other side, smashing more glass walls, and flying through the glass of that building as well. Incredible, unbelievable, stunning and most of all, thrilling as can be imagined. We almost cheered at it’s conclusion. Oh—that car didn’t suffer any dents or scratches either.

We would like to have seen more of Dwayne Johnson. He’s actually a likeable guy, all smiles and muscles bulging like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He got waylaid in the beginning of the film, but returns to mop things up at the end. He’s always a welcome sight when he cracks and crunches grown men like nuts in a nutcracker.

What can we say about Vin Diesel? He’s the greatest non-actor actor in films. He grunts, uses his Mariana trench deep voice to shatter glass, and stands there immobile like a lump of Michelangelo marble waiting to be given a personality. Don’t get me wrong—we love the man. His fake name alone is hilarious. He probably doesn’t know it, but he’s more camp than Dame Edna. He’s unique to say the least and adds so much fun to these inane proceedings.

Is Furious 7 Shakespeare? No, it’s more like a high school essay written with a broken hand. But is it fun? You bet! It’s one of the most enjoyable films of the year. It’s full of adrenaline, testosterone and Viagra all in one amazing shot. It’s terrifically entertaining.

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