There aren’t many films where when the plot makes absolutely no sense, it doesn’t make a difference to how much you enjoy the movie. The last two Fast & Furious films probably fall into that category, as the petrolhead franchise took a turn into heist action thrillers, and Fast & Furious 7 is more of the same.
What plot there is follows on directly from Fast & Furious 6. Having defeated Special Forces soldier-gone-rogue, Owen Shaw, in the last film’s climactic showdown, now his brother Deckard (Statham) is out for revenge. After killing Han in Tokyo, the rest of the F&F crew are next on the list, so Dom decides to take the fight to Deckard instead. Agreeing to help free a kidnapped ally for a secret government black-ops team, they’ll be granted access to a computer programme to track down Deckard Shaw, only Shaw isn’t that easy to keep tabs on.
It’s a convoluted plot with twists and turns that only succeed in throwing you off the movie. Most of this rambling around happens in the opening act when Fast & Furious 7 certainly does its best to bore. Characters popping up at ridiculous times, in ridiculous situations will make you laugh at the film, rather than with it, but when the action sequences take hold and the movie really gets into its groove, things quickly improve.
Like the last two movies, and in particular Fast 5, this franchise has the capacity to be a huge amount of fun. The action and chase sequences in Fast & Furious 7 are visceral and triumphant and are easily its jewel in the crown. There are two sequences in particular – on the alpine roads and in Abu Dhabi – that are some of the most riveting action scenes I’ve seen in quite a while. The film parodies itself successfully too, and when you’re in the mood, those ridiculous moments turn into crowd-pleasers instead. Most surprisingly, the cliffhangers even leave you wondering if our heroes will make it to the end. Fast & Furious 7 certainly does a better job at that than any James Bond movie ever managed.
However, it’s not all good news. While the cast do a decent lumbering around with a clenched fist and or at the wheel of a car, they really struggle in a number of mishandled emotional scenes. Telegraphed with teary music and long, drawn-out shots, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson are completely exposed and would be better steering clear of the emotional stuff going forward. Michelle Rodriguez is better and Dwayne Johnson’s natural charisma is a lifeline in the film, I just he had more time on the screen.
But the biggest issue is director James Wan’s relentless objectification of women, and the misogynistic streak that runs all the way through Fast & Furious 7. Seemingly picking up where Michael Bay left off with the Transformers series, the drag race start sequence in the desert is disgustingly leery, while how Roman (Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) talk about Ramsey (Emmanuel) when by the pool has no place in modern filmmaking, or society in general. Fast & Furious 7 is telling young men that it’s OK to treat women with total disrespect, which is completely irresponsible of the filmmakers and producing studio Universal Pictures.
The film goes out on a sad note, marking the passing of star Paul Walker with a touching and heartfelt goodbye. It is surprisingly well-handled and the perfect way to say farewell to someone who was clearly loved by cast and crew. It means you will walk out of the theatre with a slightly less bitter taste in your mouth.
Fast & Furious 7 is a vapid, one-note romp. The emotional connection built up with the characters over the course of the seven movies goes some way to saving it in the end, but despite some hugely impressive action sequences, the misogyni c and leery attitude does derail the film. Which is a shame, because some parts are handled with real joy, and for distinct segments of the films, there’s bundles of fun to be had.