You can claim to be invested in the Fast and/or Furious series for fancy cars, or for the characters and the laid-back diversity of the cast, or the occasional welcome nod to feminism, but really it’s all about the action. When Fast Five and, to a much greater extent, Fast & Furious 6 began to increasingly abandon the needs of both narrative coherence and economy, along with the boorish dudebro machismo of the earlier installments, this left room for more and more cartoonish spectacle, a ratio that impressively sits at something like 75% of the total runtime of Furious 7. If this isn’t the best entry in the series, it’s at least the winner by sheer quantity of mayhem. About 30 minutes in, a bunch of cars parachute into the Caucasus Mountains, kicking off one lengthy, complicated sequence after another, in what feels like about 90 solid minutes of sustained insanity.
If this isn’t the best entry in the series, it’s at least the winner by sheer quantity of mayhem.
Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious), taking over from the franchise’s longtime helmer Justin Lin, mostly proves a much tidier director of action. When these movies abandon vehicular business for fist- and gun-fights, Lin’s camera and cutting traditionally destabilized into bland shakycam nonsense. Here Wan stages multiple match ups with rambunctious energy, sometimes even somersaulting the camera over the fighters and focusing almost exclusively on impacts. A mid-movie showdown between Michelle Rodriguez and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey might be the best pure fist-fight the series has ever produced, with every heavy punch and body-slam crisp and clear. And the car stuff is, for lack of a better term, awesome. Rather than try to top Fast & Furious 6‘s endless airplane runway finale, with its Return of the Jedi-like multiple converging action narratives, Furious 7 merely stacks three or four similarly massive sequences right on top of each other, taking plenty of time for some absurd grace notes for your lizard brain, like an armored bus teetering on the edge of a cliff, or a sunbeam backlighting a $3.5 million sportscar as it hurtles between skyscrapers in slow motion. Yes, you read that right, and this beautiful, stupid shot is lacking only the cry of a distant hawk to complete its absurd sublimity.