Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Furious 7

Title: Furious 7

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "Ralph, Jesus did not have wheels."

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Predator drones out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: "No speed limit signs on this highway, no one to say 'Take it easy,' no cops to hand out tickets, just enjoy the $74,000 in prize money, or disappointment or death."

Tagline: "One last ride."

Better Tagline: "Waste your summer praying in vain/For a savior to rise from these streets."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: While former FBI agent Paul O'Conner (Paul Walker) "enjoys" the slower pace of domestic life with wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and son Jack, a ghost from their past appears in the form of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother of the Eurotrash they defeated in the last movie. With everyone from DSS agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to leader Dominic (Vin Diesel) in Shaw's sights, the crew is forced to enter an agreement with a mysterious government operative (Kurt Russell) to stop him.

Oh, and it also involves some ultra-powerful surveillance device that could potentially endanger every person on earth. Tra la la, la la.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: I complained in my last review of one of these movies (2011's Fast Five) about the relative lack of action. Obviously first-time franchise director James Wan heeded my concerns (it's possible!), because Furious 7 barely (witty driving metaphor alert!) takes the foot off the gas, pausing the mayhem long enough only to allow our heroes to change wardrobes and reapply Turtle Wax.

They even updated the IMAX intro to be more fast/furious.

This time around, the gang hijacks a convoy in Azerbaijan (after parachuting -- in their cars -- out of a transport plane), drives a Lykan Hypersport out a 100th-floor window in Abu Dhabi, and battles a helicopter while pursued by a drone on the streets of L.A., all while glowering with ferocious intensity and somehow avoiding police interference throughout. Street races in most cities are shut down within 15 minutes, but a wanted terrorist (Djimon Hounsou, clearly just saying, "Fuck you, pay me" at this point) can wreak havoc in a gunship over downtown Los Angeles for 20 minutes before anyone bothers to intervene.

Anyone but Hobbs, that is, who handles a chaingun with all the subtlety of Lone Starr wielding his Schwartz.

As in all the other Schnell und Wütend movies, the men are stoic, swole and largely humorless. Statham plays Shaw as a "Mirror, Mirror" version of Frank Martin from the Transporter movies (stubblier, no one-liners), while Diesel's trapezius muscles are so enormous it looks like he has trouble keeping his spine straight. The new additions, Ong Bak's Tony Jaa and UFC champion Rhonda Rousey, are introduced solely so O'Conner and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) can have someone to fight (and Rousey looks about as comfortable in a gown as Brienne of Tarth).

I have now seen all of the Rápido y Furioso movies, and I can recall almost no salient details about any of them. They coalesce in a hazy, bass-heavy amalgam of muscle cars, be-thonged derrières, explosions, ominous musical cues and that guy who used to play Caleb on American Gothic.

As I've said before, the act of reviewing these flicks is a futile one. After seven attempts, the Rapide et Furieux films have been honed to perfection for modern movie audiences: The dialogue is largely throwaway, each plot involves either generic drug lords or a MacGuffin of Calamitous Global Import that has little personal bearing on the main characters, and every action sequence is so goddamn loud it doesn't matter if you talk during the movie or not.

And not to avoid the elephant in the room, but I'm...uneasy about the way Walker's death (which took place halfway through filming) was handled. It was announced before the movie was even released the character of Brian O'Conner would be retired, not killed, but the script rewrites imbue him with so many "dead meat" qualities (pregnant wife, the repeated "No more funerals" line), it might have been more dignified to off the character early on and turn Furious 7 into a revenge flick.

Because the results are awkward and frankly kind of unfair. We have to endure O'Conner's frequent brushes with death, exulting when he avoids getting shot/crushed by a bus/plummeting from a tower in Abu Dhabi, when *the real guy burned to death* in a car wreck. It was surreal, sitting in a full theater listening to people whoop and cheer at O'Conner surviving all these ridiculous scenarios, then applaud (with apparent genuine emotion) when he ends up retiring on a beach. Meanwhile the real guy's ashes are buried in Forest Lawn.

And say what you want about Walker (he was no Olivier, but seemed like a decent guy), but he deserved better than this. What reconstituted shots aren't obviously CGI or one of his brothers (two were used as stand-ins) are recycled from previous movies. His dialogue is also -- understandably -- abbreviated. It's almost as if in their haste to pay their respects, they ended up doing exactly the opposite.

Furious 7 is in theaters today. Motorin'; what's your price for flight?

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar