I’m not ashamed to step out of my ivory tower, dismount from my high horse and review a car chase and explosions action movie. I have seen a few of the films in the Fast and Furious series, but not all in their entirety. I believe the only one I actually sat through was Fast Five, the one where The Rock is chasing them down. I’m a fan of The Rock; he’s a fellow Taurus.
He manged to make the not that easy transition from the world of pro wrestling to film acting, so much respect, and Fast 5 was a really good film. Some people scoff and poo poo the action genre as being vapid, meaningless violence, but I have a few arguments against that. One, you know what you’re getting into when you see a movie like this. I wasn’t expecting Pacific Rim to present some high transcendent ideas about existence, and whatever, it had Idris Elba in it! He was Heimdall in Thor and was considered for the Doctor and possibly James Bond (not without some controversy *rolls eyes*). Crap…thought train derailed. My second point is that the F&F franchise has always been about a lot more than just the car chases and explosions, which I’ll get into once I start the review proper.
I’d been interested in seeing this movie from the first trailers as I’d enjoyed the prior ones I’d seen. I’d also been told by many people that I HAD to see it because “FF7 Adrienne!”
Yeah…I made many a Facebook scroll stop when I saw THAT abbreviation and was very glad they started using the ampersand in between the two F’s to help alleviate the confusion.
The plot is nothing complicated, no GRRM intricacies here, although I had to ask my husband to clear up a few things I didn’t know. Quick note if you haven’t seen all of the movies, you will still be able to enjoy this installment. There are a couple of things that might have you raising your brows, but they are fairly easy to figure out just by paying attention and using some common sense.
F&F7 is the first film to take place after Tokyo Drift with the older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), of the previous bad guy seeking vengeance on Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang for his younger sibling’s comatose condition. Back in the states, the crew is trying to adjust to normal lives after securing amnesty from Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Unfortunately, nothing wanted is ever easily gained. Shaw manages to break into the secure office where Hobbs works to extract profiles about his targets. A fight ensues ending with a bomb severely injuring Hobbs and putting him the hospital and (supposedly) out of commission.
Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker RIP ;_;) is attempting to accustom himself to the mundane life of husband to Mia (Jordana Brewster), Dom’s sister, and father to their son. Mia is not an un-astute woman though and realizes that Brian is feeling the drain of banality, “missing the bullets” of his formerly faster life. She is reluctant to tell him that she is pregnant again, and Dom tries to convince her that Brian loves her more than he loved his former life and that she obviously needs to impart this information. Before this can happen though, the package on their front porch explodes, destroying the house, but thankfully leaving Dom, the newly pregnant Mia, Brian, and their son unharmed. It becomes quickly clear that they’re being hunted, and things get more complicated when the gang becomes involved with a Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) who promises Dom assistance if him and his crew will help him rescue a hacker named Ramsey from terrorists.
There are a couple of interesting surprises with the film such as the identity (or rather appearance) of Ramsey. There’s a scene where they drop cars out of an airplane, jump a car between three towers, and use the eye of God. The laws of physics are utterly obliterated, but you enjoy every minute of the break.
What really sets the Fast and Furious franchise apart for me is the message that lies at its heart: family. Dom Toretto says, “I don’t have friends; I have family,” and that’s what he’s all about. His crew is his family. It doesn’t matter the distance (Han in Tokyo), their backgrounds (Brian used to be a cop), or blood ties; family is family. I loved the message of intercultural and international bonds and made an observation that I’m sure many of you might have already picked up. Paul Walker’s character Brian is the only white protagonist. We do have Jason Statham, but he’s an antagonist alongside of Djimon Hounsou, who I’d honestly love to see in a non-bad guy role (Guardians of Galaxy had him as a secondary villain, too). The F&F films show that you can have a successful film franchise where the majority of the main/hero characters aren’t white. I think that is insanely important to show that such diversity can exist, and the way the characters interact with each solidifies this concept. Brian is just as much a part of the group as Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s “Mrs. Alpha.”
This is not to say there weren’t some issues with the film. Like most action movies, there was some serious female objectification, and sad to say, it’s just something you come to expect from the genre. It becomes a complicated issue, because F&F7 also has women in good positions (which is a problematic statement in and of itself, but something I don’t want to get into here). Bit of a spoiler, but…
Roman (Tyrese Gibson) remarks that he would never put that kind of body behind a computer screen in reference to Ramsey’s (Nathalie Emmanuel who also plays Missandei on GoT) status as both female and hacker. I was glad to see Tej (Chris “Ludicrous” Parker) set him straight by challenging him on what exactly a hacker should look like. Now granted a few scenes later, we have her in a bikini *sigh* but baby steps.
I can’t finish up this review without mentioning the ending, which arguably bolsters this movie from 4 to 5 stars. If you don’t want to know about the tribute to Paul Walker, you’ll want to stop reading, otherwise let me just tell you there were invisible ninjas cutting onions in the theater near me.
Just listening to it here brings tears to my eyes. Now that I’m thinking about it…I’m not going to give away the tribute. It will have much more resonance if you see it for yourself. Let me just say that it was one of the best tributes to someone I have ever seen, and while it was obvious that that’s what they were doing, I felt it fit seamlessly into the movie. Both Brian and Paul deserved to have that kind of happy ending.
Well it appears I didn’t have to leave my ivory tower after all. F&F7 will definitely go down in the annals as one of my favorite action movies if just for that ending alone. Highly recommend seeing it in the theater just to witness some of the more action-y bits in silver screen format. It was well worth the money.