Director James Wan and the entire crew behind the latest entry in the "Fast & Furious" series faced a heartbreaking challenge after the sudden and tragic death of lead actor Paul Walker halfway through production on "Furious 7" in late 2013. Fortunately, they pull it off, creating the most intense, action packed and most heartfelt entry in the series yet.
New villain in town Deckard Shaw is out for vengeance for his younger brother who now lies crippled in a hospital bed thanks to Dominic Toretto and his team. Shaw relentlessly hunts Dom and his family across the globe.
The "Fast and Furious" franchise saw somewhat of a turn in 2011 when the films transformed from street racing to action movie, the team went to Rio to pull off a ridiculous heist, in "Fast 6" the team were assigned to take down a terrorist and now, they're being hunted by that terrorists older brother who'll stop at nothing until he's had his revenge.
The action is incredible fun to watch, old school fans of the series will be pleased to know the cars take a prominent role in the action once again but are balanced with unforgettable and expertly filmed hand to hand brawls. Statham vs Johnson, Statham vs Diesel, Rousey vs Rodriguez, Jaa vs Walker, each fight felt fresh and the stakes were ramped up each and every time.
Horror director James Wan took over from director Justin Lin who had done four films in the series. Wan does an excellent job here, getting out of his comfort zone and venturing into the unknown and creating a wild, non stop ride that is enthused with passion from everyone working on the film. Many of the set pieces have been featured in the trailers but there is still plenty to be surprised about here, especially the final act which parallels action scenes similar to a superhero film.
The film has its main plot of the team going up against Deckard Shaw (Statham) but juggles other stories as well. The team are hired by the CIA to rescue a hacker and retrieve a piece of technology called "Gods Eye" which is able to locate anybody on the globe in a matter of hours using any microphone or lens on the planet. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still dealing with the loss of her memory which causes issue for her relationship with Dom. And Brian (Walker) is along for one last ride as he is expecting a second child with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and is anxious but ready to start his new life.
There was perhaps one too many subplots here, it was difficult to know which one was the focus sometimes.
Each character gets their time to shine, whether it be in an action scene or dialogue, no one is left unused.
Jason Statham is excellent as the villain, from a shocking and brutal entrance up until the explosive finale, this foe is the deadliest the team have ever faced. He plays the brother to Luke Evans' Owen Shaw who was featured in "Fast 6". Dwayne Johnson yet again proves he's one of the best things to ever happen to the franchise as Hobbs, his scenes are unforgettable but unfortunately there isn't enough of him. Acting legend Kurt Russell has a lot of fun in his small role as the government agent who recruits Dom to acquire "Gods Eye".
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker both deliver their finest performances in the series yet, they perform very well in the action and even better in the smaller character moments. Walker had shot about 60% of his scenes before his tragic passing so his two brothers stepped in as body doubles, Walker's face was digitally added onto his brothers' bodies. It's obvious to see when its not the real Paul Walker but the filmmakers did an excellent job handling that as it never distracted from the film.
The films plot is silly and the dialogue even sillier but we wouldn't want it any other way. At what we used to roll our eyes at we know cheer as the one liners and impossible stunts come thick and fast.
The action leaves nothing to be desired, cars perform impossible stunts from planes and sky high towers and instead of wanting more, you'll feel fully satisfied.
The final scene takes a quieter route and serves as a delicate and beautiful send off to actor Paul Walker who died in late 2013. The entire film builds up to his character retiring to start a new life and the final five minutes will leave old fans and new fans with a tear in their eye. The song choice, symbolism, closing monologue and montage of old footage served as a heartfelt send off to actor who devoted his life to these films. This tear jerking finale backs up what these films have always been about; family.
If Universal decide to end the series here, it would be a perfect way to do so.
"Furious 7" is the best film in the series yet, delivering the action, thrills and emotion that will leave none disappointed.