In order to get into the level of mayhem that captures this franchise, let me describe a project I worked on at my 9-5 job. I write technical reviews for a wide variety of products. Last year, I was tasked to review a bunch of Aquarium screensavers. Did I feel like it was a complete waste of time to test an application that went out with Windows 95? Not at all. If nothing else, it was an educational experience. One of the products had this amazing feature – A fish poo mode. You could actually set how much you wanted your virtual fish to do their business. The meter started at no pooing, then of course went to realistic. Then, things start to get weird and the screensaver started appealing to those with fish fetishes. The next option was “Excessive.” I’m not sure why anyone would want their fish to suffer with that. It surely couldn’t go up from there, could it? The answer is yes. The step above excessive is “Absurd.” ABSURD!
This is how I feel about the Fast and Furious movies. You’d think that the antics of this crew couldn’t get more excessive. Yet, somehow the screen writers decided, “Hey, what if we stopped chickening out with these already excessively implausible plots and action sequences, and made them completely absurd?!” The head of the studio immediately responded by handing them a blank check.
The Fast and Furious franchise has come a long way. When the series started out in 2001, it was about small time criminals/street racers. The crew then started taking out drug cartels somehow. There was an easy progression to professional criminals running bank heists. Now, Dom and his team have become international super-cops running top secret missions for the government.
Every movie gets progressively bigger and less believable. And no one involved is making apologies. Nor should they really. They are making a lot of money. Also, they’ve perfected a formula that defies the laws of sanity. As every movie becomes more stupid, the quality actually rises. We are two movies away from flying cars and three movies away from Vin Diesel transforming into a car. And you know what? Audiences will eat it up.
In Fast and Furious 6, the crew took down Owen Shaw. Now, his brother Deckard (Jason Statham) plans to take the team out one by one. He is former Black Ops, just to sound intimidating. As he stalks the team, Vin Diesel is cornered by “Mr Nobody” (Kurt Russell) a government operative who enlists the crew to find “God’s Eye,” which can track the location of anyone in the world. This mission takes to crew to random places like the mountains of Azerbaijan and the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi. Yet, wherever the team is, they cannot shake Deckard Shaw. He shows up everywhere they are, which is never explained. This all culminates in a race for survival through the streets of Los Angeles as the team fights Deckard, terrorists of unknown origin, apache helicopters, drones and internet connections.
Nevermind the plot, you only care about the action. Furious 7 does not let you down. I’m not sure if it was because the action was exciting or if I was brainwashed by all the dude-bros in the crowd, but I found the scenes to be as fun as they are ridiculous.
If Furious 7 were a drinking game, it would look something like this –
Every time you notice Paul Walker’s brother standing in – take a shot.
Vin Diesel says the word family – take a shot. (12 times, by the way)
Any time the camera focuses in on a girl’s butt – take two shots.
The laws of physics are broken – take a shot.
You can’t understand what Vin Diesel just mumbled – take a shot.
Each time they mention a sponsor – two shots. (Definitely sponsored by Corona. Also, as the credits rolled up, the audience was treated to a screen saying “Visit Abu Dhabi!”)
If you don’t want to die from alcohol poisoning, it’s worth seeing this movie just to laugh at the screen at every attempt at dialogue.
There’s a huge disconnect in Furious 7. Everyone, from the cast to the director, is asking you to not take this movie seriously for 95% of the running time. Yet, when they pay tribute to Paul Walker, you are asked to take it completely serious. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it’s just a strange transition. Without giving anything about his character away, they do Paul justice. It gives the remaining cast, especially Vin, a chance to say goodbye to the heart of the franchise. In fact, it would have been a perfect and fitting end to the series as a whole. Yet, they’ve already planned for three more movies.
To summarize, I sat there watching this movie with an incredulous look on my face. I can’t get over the fact that creative minds are purposely making a dumb movie with an incredible budget, while fully understanding that this movie fires on all cylinders. I honestly don’t know what they can do in the next movie to top this. It’s the best movie in the franchise, for all the right and wrong reasons. As a grade, I’d have to give it an A for being exactly what it needed to be for the audience. It also deserves an F for the impact it may have on the future of cinema.