The success of the Fast and the Furious franchise mirrors the films themselves. Fueled by reckless abandon, silly tricks, ridiculous ideas, yet a propensity to always survive, Fast & Furious 7 is no different.
All that’s needed are a bevy of luxurious cars, beautiful women, huge action and a massive suspension of disbelief. What separates Fast & Furious 7 from its predecessors is the dark cloud which hangs over the entire film, the tragic events of Paul Walker’s real-life passing just over a year ago.
Walker appeared in six of the seven films in the franchise, arguably becoming its most recognisable face, and tragically passed away after a car accident in November 2013. The death cast obvious doubt on Fast & Furious 7 which was shooting at the time, with the biggest question – how they would handle Walker’s character, who is the co-lead starring alongside Vin Diesel.
News came out that Walker had filmed most of his scenes with the exception of a few. Rumors of the film bringing in his brother to film, or using CGI, began spreading around the internet. Would this be something the film could pull off?
The loss of Walker gives the film an emotional depth no Furious film has had before. Director James Wan does a fascinating job of using the audience’s knowledge of real life events to bring weight to the film overall and Walker’s character in particular.
The film, like the others, isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. A rehash of other films, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a group of street-savvy, witty, speed seeking drivers against the bad guys and their cars and guns. Car chases galore occur. Gravity and Logic defying action scenes follow. Then the police take the side of the film’s protagonist, and it ends with Diesel talking about how he lives his life “a quarter mile at a time.”
But what is different? In this film, unlike the others, a happy ending isn’t possible. The audience knows that a character they love is gone after this. The filmmakers do everything they can to make you truly connect with Walker’s character before saying goodbye.
The Furious films are meant to be one thing: Fun. This film did not deliver anything less than that. Car chases involving airplanes, buses falling off of cliffs, driving from building to building 80 stories off the ground: It is ridiculous. But it sure is fun.
The film is also far from perfect. The amount of story lines and sub plots occurring is overwhelming and unnecessary. The weighty run time of over 2 hours is a bit much, and the film doesn’t achieve anything substantially different than any film before it.
But it isn’t chasing any Oscars. The only thing it chases is the need to satisfy the adrenaline junkie fans of the franchise and the provide a proper send off to Walker. Both of those things they achieve perfectly.
Fast & Furious 7 is the perfect popcorn movie and there is no better way they could have paid tribute to Paul Walker.