I know that with this review, I'm going to get so many readers calling me dumb for my opinion, but that's what this review is... it's my opinion and if you read my article with an open mind, I think you'll see where I get this rating. So bare with me, and lets begin.
Let me begin by saying this: I am a huge Fast & Furious fan. I remember watching The Fast & The Furious and thought it was an instant classic. I thought that it was something special and that it could be built into some sort of Furious Universe. I could imagine the character development, the future films, the spin-offs. 14 years ago, in my own 15 year old brain, I could see all the pieces that I thought should be expanded upon. Yes, you did read that right, the first film was 14 years ago in 2001. As time went on the movies progress and evolved in a way that I hadn't anticipated. The follow up 2 Fast 2 Furious was released in 2003 to a mixed bag review (mostly because it deviated from the essence of the first movie and there was no Vin Diesel), but I did actually enjoy seeing Tyrese Gibson & Ludacris across from Paul Walker. It added some levity, and I wasn't against that but I didn't like where it was taking us.
I was willing to give Universal Pictures & Original Film some slack even though they weren't meeting my vision for the franchise. Then Tokyo Drift hit, and I quit watching. This was 2006 and I was devastated. I thought that I would have to rely on my own imagination to see where the story went, because as far as I was concerned any future installment was dead if they continued in the direction they had taken it thus far.
Then I heard the news, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster & Michelle Rodriguez were returning.
I was excited about the franchise again, I thought that the studio had learned from it's errors and was giving me what I envisioned again - The team back together for another ride. I couldn't handle the wait, but there I was in line on opening night to see Fast & Furious, the newest iteration to the stalling franchise. I watched and loved the new story line. I loved the character development that had happened since the first installment. Paul Walker's character, Brian O'Connor, is more confident and was embracing the concept of family and friends and ride or die. They team up as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) learns that his love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) had been killed. Through the movie Brian and Dom learn from each other and grow their brotherhood ultimately showing Brian what family truly means as he chooses the Toretto family over his FBI career.
Fast & Furious brought back what we loved about the first movie: super charged cars, swagger, emotion but didn't stretch the logic and plausibility as far as the other films had done.
Now, I'm back on the bandwagon for the franchise. Universal was vindicated, and I was excited to she what was next. Followed up by Fast 5 and my love for the series only grew. I loved the direction, and I loved that they brought in Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). It definitely added a new dynamic to the film. It all of a sudden wasn't only about the fastest car. There was drama and excitement and I was ready for another movie.
Next up was Fast & Furious 6, and my faith started to wain. All the usual suspects had returned for another installment and it started off in the same vein that I was used to: fast cars, fast mouths and a faster story. But I felt that it lost something in production. It lost the believability, albeit small, that I was used to. The physics seemed impossible, and the fights too big. Even though it was met with higher critical reviews than the previous movies, I disagreed and thought it was too much.
So there I sat waiting for Furious Seven to start, preparing myself for what everyone was saying was an epic film, and giving rave reviews.
The lights went out, and the opening scene began and it had its hooks in me. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was a devil on a mission, and up until now, the crew had always faced an enemy that was trying to evade them, now they were being hunted, and it was glorious.
Then it all fell apart for me.
There was so much introduced into the film in such a sort time that it was overloaded. There's the dynamic between Letty & Dom... The family struggles for Brian... There's Agent Hobbs in the hospital... The determined Deckard Shaw... Now there's a Somalian Terrorist (Djimon Hounsou)... A shady government official "Mr. Nobody" (Kurt Russell)... A Muay Thai fighter (Tony Jaa)... A super secret hacking program called 'Gods Eye' ... Holy overkill Batman?! -
There was so much going on that I actually got disinterested. I started wondering how much longer it would go. I checked my phone for the time twice by probably 2/3 through the movie. This is where my 7.2 review comes into play.
Now don't get me wrong: if I were reviewing the movie solely on character development, or solely on plot, or solely on action, or solely on plausibility then my rating would be different. Corporately though, I can't envision giving it any higher of a rating.
- Character Development - 8.0
- Plot & Story - 7.3
- Action Sequences - 8.7
- Plausibility - 5.0
As an impartial viewer, I'm supposed to rate a movie on all of it's factors from the music to the cinematography: from characters to scenery: from plot holes to realism. And Furious Seven fell into quite a few failures as a film.
Here's a few of the problems that I had with it overall:
Too many new characters
I'm all for introducing new characters into a film, but there were 5 brand new characters introduced: Shaw, Kiet, Jakande, Ramsey & Mr. Nobody. -- All 5 of which had fairly important parts to play in the movie. I just felt that it was too much "new". ---
Where did the "Fast" go?
I saw the furious part in the action sequences, but where did the racing aspect go? In the entire 137 minutes, there were maybe 3 sets of racing scenes. Now, don't get me caught on the technicality because it's 'officially' called Furious Seven. I understand that Fast isn't actually in the title, but it's assumed.
Realism can still make a good movie
Jumping cars between buildings... Ramping an ambulance off a bridge onto a predator drone... A military helicopter flying around the city and it takes 10 minutes for anyone to notice... Hobbs walking through the city with a machine gun and suddenly is able to be in exactly the right spot to help Dom... Shooting a bag of grenades from about 1000 feet with a pistol... Crashing head first TWICE and still getting out of the car to duke it out in a fist fight... And so many other realism failures.
I just thought that there were so many implausible moments throughout the movie, that it was hard to follow at times.
I hate to review one of my favorite franchises so low, but I just think that it fell flat and down-shifted too quickly and blew it's engine in the last quarter mile.
Now, with that said. The ending was such a beautiful way to honor Paul Walker and reminded us just what the movie franchise has meant to all of them, and all of us. It was a smart way to conclude what I think will be the end of the series: short of a reboot (wink wink).