Make no mistake, people get to line up in each installment of this franchise to see cars racing and crashing – and hot bodies (male & female) smouldering. Initially created to capitalize on the street-racing scene in the American West Coast, each successive entry brings us to different exotic locales, mainly to highlight bikini-clad beauties while delighting us with new ways of automobile abuse.
Fast & Furious 7 is no exception.
Ever since Fast Five, there has been a perceptible shift toward action-film plotting where our heroic band of boy (and girl) racers have found their distinct skills being used for assignments which would normally require a crack team of well-funded black-ops agents. Whether it be the favelas of Rio, bustling London or even the opulent glass skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi, expect much collateral damage whenever F & F are in town.
Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, yeah, RIP) is trying to get used with the whole fatherhood thing, yet Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) manages to convince him to join the crew in what could be their “last” ever ride. Y’see, the brother of the Euro-trash scumbag that they offed in the last one is coming back for revenge in a big way – yeah, we’re talkin’ about Deckard Shaw (Jason fuckin’ Statham), who we remember, snuffed out Han (Sung Kang) in the streets of Tokyo at the end of F & F 6.
Their Homeland Security liaison Hodges (Dwayne Johnson) alerts them to the threat, along with one from African warlord Mose Jakombe (Djimon Hounsou) in pursuit of lovely hacker Ramsey (“Game Of Thrones”‘ Nathalie Emmanuelle) who has allegedly leaked out a super-GPS named “God’s Eye” to an online broker in the Middle East.
Yeah, this is where the Fast & The Furious franchise meets Person Of Interest.
The action takes them from Azerbaijan to Abu Dhabi, where the state-of-the-art MacGuffin is installed in a Jordanian prince’s Lykan Hypersport. Dom and Brian boost that pricey motherfucker ($3.4 million!!!) from its penthouse garage (like, who else but a loaded Jordanian prince would keep his car waaay up there???) and send it crashing through all three Etihad towers. Meanwhile, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) gets her hands full with the prince’s Amazon bodyguards, led by real-life MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.
The climax takes place in Los Angeles, where the rest of the F & F gang play a game of American football – with the cars as players and Ramsey as the ball – against a ‘copter-borne Jakombe and a gunship drone. Meanwhile, as Brian spars with Thai action-film sensation Tony Jaa, Dom challenges Deckard to a gruelling fight at the top of a multi-level parking lot with kali-eskrima moves (Filipino martial arts FTW!!!)
Paul Walker’s untimely death notwithstanding, Brian’s character gains new depth as he becomes a father; same too with Dom as he deals with his fianceé’s momentary memory loss. James Wan (shifting genres from the Saw series) ably fits into the driving seat for this installment of the franchise; it is also commendable on how he managed to seamlessly transition the Brian-centric action scenes with Paul’s real-life brothers Cody and Caleb digitally “filling in”. Meanwhile, decent comic relief is provided by Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Romeo (Tyrese Gibson); love that scene where Romeo attempts to keep a jaded Abu Dhabi party crowd occupied with bad jokes and even lamer pick-up lines.
The car stunts – de rigeur for the series – never fail to impress me; after seeing the much-hyped air-drop scene, you’ll believe that an automobile can fly. All in a truly solid follow-up, but falling a tad short in matching the sheer awesomeness of Fast 6’s automotive mayhem.
Which reminds me…can’t wait for Mad Max: Fury Road!!!