A world where the laws of physics don’t apply, people can’t be seriously injured or maimed for life, gravity is just a word, and real-life cartoon action rules the day! Welcome to the Furious 7 universe! Raising the bar on a whole new level of ridiculousness, this is a wholly preposterous movie of cars, stunts, and impossible scenes that defy all logic.
Ripping off a Mission: Impossible scenario, a villain, renegade British black op’s Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) wants revenge for his brother Owen, who’s now in a coma. This is thanks to the the Fast ‘n’ Furious gang: leader Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), his amnesiatic one-time wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriquez), BFF and ex-FBI agent, Brian (the late Paul Walker), computer whiz, Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Parker), and jokester, Roman (Tyrese Gibson). But first, Shaw sends DSS agent (and friend of Dom’s) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) to the hospital after a major brawl.
After pilfering the secret whereabouts of Dom and his crew, Shaw start to kill them off starting with Takashi (Brian Tee). Dom thankfully gets support from secret government agent Frank Petty, aka Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). The deal: Petty will hand over Shaw IF Dom and his crew first covertly retrieve a top secret computer chip called “god’s eye” that can locate anyone anywhere anytime. The inventor, Ramsey (Nathalie Emanuel), is being held by an evil dictator called Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), so the team grabs her in a harrowing mountain road chase rescue that is just plain crazy.
BUT! Turns out the chip isn’t with her. It’s in a hard drive. Installed in a $3.4 million car. Inside a Sheik’s penthouse top floor in Abu Dhubi. So, they go to steal it, but Shaw shows up and Dom decides to DRIVE the car away. It’s unbelievable! Good news: Petty gets the chip. Bad news: Shaw teams up with Jakande and gets the chip back. This brings us full circle back to L.A. and the final battle: Dom vs Shaw in a parking garage doing a mano-a-mano while his team drive like crazy all over the streets trying to avoid Jakande in an attack helicopter. And here comes Hobbs to settle an old score and pick up where Rambo left off. It’s chaos!
There’s millions in property damage, explosions galore, major fight scenes, unimaginable car stunts, director James Wan’s patented ‘el rollo’ camera moves (the camera rolls with the actor–very cool and dizzying), and the most cliched riddled script ever written by Chris Morgan. The action moves quickly around the massive Maserati-sized plot holes and LOL plot contrivances. It’s like a 14-year-old wrote this, not bothering with stuff like redeeming values or subtexts. Just explosions, fights, truckloads of bullets, witless dialogue, amazing stunts, half-naked women, testosterone-heavy macho men, and no one EVER gets seriously injured! Just like in real life!
You won’t find any Academy Award worthy acting here, just the usual over-the-top (and I mean, WAY over the top!) action, Vin Diesel’s grunt-talking, Gibson and Parker trading comical barbs, forced romance with Rodriguez and Diesel, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of souped-up beautiful cars that get smashed to pieces. It’s all mind-numbingly stupid, but if you watch it like a cartoon, you might have some fun with it.
Side note: This was Paul Walker’s final film, as he passed away during production. Thanks to Paul’s two look-a-like brother’s and some clever digital manipulation, Universal Pictures was able to complete the picture, something that Walker would have wanted, according to his best friend, Vin Diesel. The end of the movie has a very nice tribute to Walker, which got a heartfelt round of applause at the screening I was at.
The Italian Job (2003)
Itself a remake of a 1969 British import, this light-hearted, high-voltage thrill ride is loaded with car stunts, a terrific cast, and a great story of getting even. While it’s not the seventh in a franchise, it serves as a movie of a posse of experts getting together to pull off a heist with cars, and that suits me just fine.
Starting off with an extraordinary gold bullion robbery in Venice, Italy, it finishes with a betrayal (and murder) later in the Swiss Alps. Years later we see Stella Bridger (Charlize Theron), a professional safe cracker whose father (Donald Sutherland) was the one betrayed and killed by super-nasty and evil, Steve (Edward Norton). He ripped off all that gold and is now living in luxury in the hills of L.A. Vowing revenge for all that stolen loot (and the death of his mentor), is master thief, Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg).
Charlie can’t do this alone, so he assembles a crack team of crooks and experts in eclectic fields for stealing back the gold. He gets ace driver, Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), computer whiz-kid and irritating nerd, Napster (Seth Green), and explosives man, Left Ear (Mos Def). Hooking up with Stella, the plan is to rob Steve’s home, but that plan backfires when Steve catches wise to their plans. After killing his Ukrainian gold-to-cash money guy, Steve has to move all his gold surplus fast for safe keeping. Using three souped-up Mini-Cooper’s, Charlie and his gang spring into action with crazy and elaborate schemes, explosions, computer street signal switching, and a classic bait ‘n’ switch to capture the gold.
With a wonderful script by Donna and Wayne Powers and crackerjack direction by F. Gary Gray, you couldn’t go wrong here. The story is your basic revenge saga coupled with a Fast ‘n’ Furious car chase through Hollywood with a little Ocean’s Eleven thrown in for good measure. It could have been dark, boring, and remedial, but the actors and smart screenplay pull a hat trick and make it fresh, humorous, and fun to watch.