Fast and the Furious 7

  

Usually a 7th installment of a franchise is what you expect; not as good as earlier movies, to the point where it’s time to call it a day. However Fast and the Furious 7 certainly doesn’t fall into that category. Ever since Fast Five the franchise has had a new lease of life, the car sequences becoming more elaborate, and the levels of adrenaline reaching top peak. 

Fast 7’s central theme is of family, and you can see it in more than just one way. The plot opens with the arrival of the film’s bad guy -Jason Statham, playing the big bad brother of Fast 6’s Owen Shaw. He’s out for revenge on Dom (Vin Diesel) and the gang and the death of Han which we saw in the end credits of the previous scene is the start of a game of cat and mouse which takes in Abu Dhabi all the way to the streets of LA, where the series all started. 

This franchise never tries to pull the wool over its audiences’ eyes in the sense it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It knows that it’s not the most intelligent movie ever or that it’s going to win worldwide awards, but it knows that it can deliver on those adrenaline, action and wow moments. Everything from cars parachuting out of a plane to a car jumping from buildings, this is the biggest the films have been and it’s brilliant. 

Dom and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) relationship is developing within the film, despite all of their history, Letty’s memory loss is driving a wedge between the pair. Diesel and Rodriguez have a great chemistry together and it’s a welcome break to the action to have a love story admist the story. 

Of course the real heart of this story and the notion of family is bittersweet with the tragic loss of Paul Walker who plays Brian O’Conner in the movies back in Novermber 2013. The film was completed with the help of Walker’s brothers and CGI and through the cast’s interviews you can tell the cast were a real family and that the on screen emotions are real. The movie deals with Walker’s death well and in a tasteful way and it genuinely moves the audience when ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa plays and a montage of Walker’s time in the franchise plays. The screening I was in broke into applause at the end of the film, a true mark of respect. 

Fast and the Furious 7 is an adrenaline fuelled ride, full of fantastic stunts, great action and full of heart and emotion. For Fast fans, it certainly doesn’t disappoint and offers a true send-off for a much loved character and an actor who was truly loved. As Dom states in the film ‘he doesn’t have friends, he has family’, and that’s truly the message of this film. 

Letty: Did you bring the cavalry?

Hobbs: Woman, I am the cavalry

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Fast and the Furious 6

The Fast and the Furious franchise was thrown a lifeline in the form of director Justin Lin who directed the fifth instalment of the series. Add to that the box office power of the Rock introduced to the series and Vin Diesel returning to the films, excellent (but far-fetched) car chases and a decent script and the Fast franchise was back in business. Fast and the Furious 6 was inevitable, especially the teaser at the end revealing that original character Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) was in fact alive. So, did Lin’s second outing ramp up the momentum built in Fast Five to land the film in fifth gear or did it stall and end up left by the way side (see what I did there with the car puns? Next stop Top Gear….or maybe not)

After some initial, but unsuccessful attempts to catch the bad guy himself (Shaw, played by Luke Evans), the Rock enlists the help of his once former nemesis Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) asking him to re-assemble his crew to help take down the criminal mastermind and his organisation of mercenary drivers. The old gang is thrilled to be back together, and it’s certainly inferred that their lives have been a little boring since they walked away with their own share of $100 million. To get them back in the game, they’re each offered full pardons and the chance to rescue one of their own. The stakes seems even higher this time, as its personal and that their dealing with an underground criminal, rather than the official hand of the law leads our crack team often scratching their heads, and feeling one step behind Shaw.

There’s some lovely development between Toretto and Letty as well; we learn early on that Letty suffered severe amnesia after a car explosion although I’ve never really 100% sold on the idea. She’s slowly realising Shaw views his crew as indispensable and you can see the chemistry that Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez can still generate on-screen. And it even allowed Diesel to show some of his other acting abilities, instead of his constant hard man image. And whereas the villain last year had very, to little on-screen charisma, Luke Evans has it in bounds as Shaw. It easy to see why Evans is becoming a star in his own right having films such as the second two instalments of The Hobbit and the Dracula remake under his belt.

There’s plenty of action sequences in this film; there’s a lot more hand-to-hand combat in this one as well, with Rodriguez and Gina Carano getting into a couple of scrapes and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is put through his paces by someone who is built like a house – seriously it looks as if the producers cast him purely to challenge The Rock and say “look we found someone bigger than you!”

The car chases and stunts are on par, if not better than the previous instalment – the bridge jump and explosion along with the truck flip is a personal highlight, along with the chase down the runway segment. However, this film does have a knack of having various different endings – just when you think it’s over – they add an extra 20 minutes to it. The actually ending comes full circle, as the crew are still given their pardons and their back at their old address, like a family. And that morale and mantra is repeated throughout the film – bringing the family back together, never turning your back on one of your own which is a nice sentiment to bring out in an action movie that’s mostly aimed at boys who love fast cars.

Fast 7 has already been billed for next year, but not with Justin Lin directing. James Wan (best known for his work in the horror genre with the Saw franchise and more recently Insidious) puts on the directing hat which sees Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson all back. This film will also see tough guy Jason Statham become involved in the franchise as the bad guy for the next film as he play Ian Shaw – you guessed it Owen Shaw’s brother, who is out for revenge.

Brian: Maybe the Letty we once knew is gone

Dom: You don’t turn your back on family, even when they do