To their credit, the producers of Furious 7 did a really nice job paying tribute to Paul Walker, one of the stars of the franchise who passed away at the far too young age of 40 in 2013. The closing minutes of the film were given over to a nice montage and a tender send off for the actor. It’s unfortunate, then, that the two hours leading up to that moment are a poorly paced, moronically written, leadenly acted clusterfuck of gleaming cars, barely-clothed women, terrible CGI, and the type of infrastructure shattering action sequences usually reserved for superhero vehicles.
The plot of Furious 7 has the cobbled together feel of Die Hard With A Vengeance, the film that shoehorned John McClane and the brother of Hans Gruber into another script to ensure that it was greenlit. In this case we have the brother of Owen Shaw, the baddie dispensed with in the previous installment of this series, (played, naturally, by Jason Statham) who is out to avenge his sibling’s injuries by killing off everyone involved.
Outmatched by this black ops expert, Dominic, Brian, and the whole gang are given a leg up by a secretive military operative (Kurt Russell). If they help him protect a comely hacker who created software that connects its user to every camera in the world, they can use said computer program to find the elder Shaw. That sets them off on a globe-hopping adventure that strains credulity at every turn, and into which Statham parachutes to wreak even more havoc and into which the producers tossed in cameos by, of all people, Iggy Azalea and T-Pain. Whatever motivation the screenwriters tried to squeeze into the story is absolutely pointless and quickly forgotten about once cars start getting dropped out of airplanes and The Rock flexes a cast off of his arm.
As Furious 7 unfurled, the thought that kept recycling in my head was: “They made seven of these movies. Seven!” A shocking number of sequels to a series that doesn’t involve dumb teens getting shredded by an otherworldly villain. It makes sense if you just look at the raw numbers. Each installment has been more profitable than the last, and they make twice as much money overseas as they do in North America. If Hollywood knows one thing, it’s how to drag a lucrative idea to the bitter end. We might see Fast & Furious 12 before they finally decide to give up on this series.
I know lots of people that view this series as the best guilty pleasure out there, the late-night dessert that they consume bathed in the glow of their computer screens after their family has gone to bed. But I would hope that they would also accept the idea that these films have just gotten louder and dumber with each installment. It’s like watching your slightly unstable friend drink cocktail after cocktail; after each one, they start getting more clumsy, more noisy, and more imbecilic.