Director: James Wan
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Ludacris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Dwayne Johnson, Dijmon Hounson, Jordana Brewster, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Paul Walker
Plot: Hunted by their deadliest enemy yet (Statham), Toretto (Diesel) turns to a government agency for help, in exchange for securing the God’s Eye for them, a powerful surveillance tool.
James Wan has been making waves in the horror market for some time now. Insidious and the Conjuring were some of the scariest films of recent years and we could argue that it was Wan who inspired the other horrors that surpassed or came close to them. However, as Wan finished tying up Insidious with the sequel, he turned away from horror. In a sad, yet understandable move, Wan turned to the action genre, far too tempted by the explosions and heroes to stay a one-genre man. As he took the reins to the Fast and Furious 7, we were a little worried. Wan wasn’t just entering unmarked territory, but he was taking one of the biggest and most volatile movie franchises out there for a spin as well. However, like any of Fast and Furious’s crazy vehicular stunts, somehow Wan pulled it off, making everyone leaving the cinema think one thing. James Wan, welcome to the action genre. Please make your next movie very soon.
But what about Fast and Furious itself? It seems to be a common trend with the series that whether a new entry comes out, it makes the previous one obsolete. The fourth one got the old team back together and got some form of formula to a franchise that didn’t really have one. Fast Five was incredible, bringing the series back to its former glory. Then Fast and Furious 6 got inspired and surpassed Fast Five by coming up with some really inventive set-pieces. And now that we have the seventh Fast and Furious movie, the sixth is all but forgotten. The tank was cool; the team driving out of an aeroplane with parachutes is better. Luke Evans was finally the villain the series deserved; Jason Statham is so beyond incredible, there isn’t a word for it yet. Again, this largely to Wan’s doing. Fast and Furious was finally worthy of global attention, but sometimes it takes a new director wading in with a few sharp ideas to bring to the table. Seeing as these movies are arguably the same mayhem behind a car over and over again, it is to the writer’s and Wan’s credit, that the car sequences are just as exciting as last time. Wan plays around with the direction. As Vin Diesel chases Jason Statham through his hometown, the camera cuts away to an aerial view, so we see the incredible car stunts but the engine noises are muffled. It seems simple, but it adds something to the movie, almost giving it the intelligence that it needs. It is the small moments of genius that proves Wan’s worth. The first appearance of Paul Walker is quietly brilliant. The addition of the Raid’s Tony Jaa and UFC’S Ronda Rousey adds thrills to minor mid-act punch-ups. Seeing as these movies have far too many characters in the pot (as well as newcomers Nathalie Emmanuel’s hacker, Kurt Russell’s shady government agent and Statham), Wan makes sacrifices, reducing a few to cameos. Dwayne Johnson sits on the bench for a lot of this film, but when his few moments of glory are as incredible as they are, we forgive him. I could talk about the louder, more chaotic moments, but I will leave you to discover them with jaw-dropping amazement yourself. Let’s just let it at this: Wan learns the secret to making a Fast and Furious film. There are no limits. Anything goes.
Wan also knows that this is a series that is more than impossible stunts and car-crushing devastation, even if the media and even the film’s own advertising want you to believe the opposite. This is a story about family and even if these characters started off as paper-thin figures, spewing out cheesy car puns instead of dialogue, we have spent seven films with them now. We have grown to like them, as if they were our own family. Therefore, Wan lets us look under the hood and shows us, not only the gorgeous chassis and precise paintwork, but the roaring engine underneath. This is the true heart behind the film. Fast and Furious 6’s character moments were undercooked, Gisele’s death rushed and Letty’s character crippled with cheesy lines. Here, Wan gets the best out of his cast. It helps that by now these characters are like a second skin, Diesel and Walker slipping into their roles comfortably. Despite the noise of new characters, Wan adds a subplot, where Letty and Dom’s relationship begins to struggle. Dom is a man fuelled by the past, Letty is a woman who cannot remember hers – how can she be the girl that Toretto wants deep down? Everyone else gets time to shine. Nathalie Emmanuel breezes through exposition easily. Paul Walker fights with the precision of a veteran action hero. Even my least favourite character Tyrese finally broke me down and made me laugh constantly with his ‘Happy Birthday’ moment. The finished product is the best Fast and Furious movie we have ever seen… well, taking the track record into account, until the eighth comes out.
Final Verdict: Fast and Furious 7 is the kind of dumb blockbuster entertainment no critic dare give perfect marks. However, this film deserves it, beyond a shadow of a doubt.