Paul Walker's last ride almost didn't happen. After the actors tragic death on November 30, 2013 Universal Studios, Vin Diesel and the rest of the cast and crew were left with questions whether they should continue Furious Seven, and once Universal and Diesel decided to move forward with finishing Furious Seven how would they move forward with the film, the story in how dealing with Paul's character Brian O'Conner, and how to be respectful and pay respect to Paul inside and outside the film, and Universal did an excellent job not capitalizing on or marketing Paul Walker's death as a marketing tool to draw audiences to the film, and Furious Seven itself is a kickass film that does both paying respect to Paul Walker, and being one of if not the best films in the Furious franchise.
With my review of Furious Seven I will be talking about the film, but I will also be talking about the series as a whole, but first let's get the so called plot of Furious Seven out of the way. It's basically a revenge film with Owen Shaw's brother Decker Shaw (Jason Statham) coming to get revenge on Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and the rest for what they did to his brother Owen, and Dom wants revenge on Decker for killing Han, and coming after his family. Things get needlessly complicated when government agent Mr. Nobody gleefully played by Kurt Russell, and then with the introduction of some sort of mercenary Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), and some convoluted devise called "Gods Eye". Yea the plot is really bad, and one of the worst Furious plots along with Tokyo Drift, but that's not what everyone goes to the Furious films for. People go for the fast cars, hot women, riveting action, and fun characters, and on that aspects Furious Seven fully delivers, and as I said before making the film one of if not the best in the franchise.
The cast had a lot to work through completing Furious Seven with the action/stunts and Paul Walker's death giving some moving, funny, and poignant performances. Besides Kurt Russell's performance as Mr. Nobody was as I said gleeful obvious loving the over the top role. I believe Furious Seven was Jason Statham's first role as an out and out villain, and the played the role viciously bringing dread to the film as he proved in the opening, and his confrontation with The Rock. Statham should take on the role as a villain more often as I enjoyed him in the role. The only actor who was wasted in Furious Seven was Hounsou's Jakande who really was pointless for the film except to move the plot forward and to make the odds more even between Dom's crew and Decker, but the important performances were given by Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and Walker.
Critics have bashed the Furious films over the years for being all style and no substance, with nothing behind the cars, women and action sequences, and honestly the critics are partially right, but there is more to Furious Seven and the Furious series once you did behind the aforementioned cars, women and action sequences, and you can see the overarching theme of the film and the series as a whole with it being friendship and family in that it doesn't matter whether a person's blood or background when it comes to family, and family is the most important thing, and it can be said about the actors as well. Paul, Vin, Jordana, and Michelle have worked together in every film outside 2 fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift. They have grown up as actors together making their start in Hollywood together, and formed family bonds as we saw after Walker's death and it shows in their performances in the film. Paul, Vin, Jordana, and Michelle have a lot chemistry together in scenes before Walker's death that take on more poignant as you watch them like a scene on a military jet where Vin and Paul talk about family, and Brian's reluctance to let go of the thrill he once had now that he is living a family live driving a mini-van or the heart wrenching scene late in the film between Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster), and Brian over the phone as the climatic end of the film approached. You can also tell the affect the death of Walker had on the actor's performances in the latter half of the film, and the absolutely moving epilogue of the film. Family is what matters in the Furious films and outside of the films.
The special effects and action are what you would expect from the Furious films and seen the trailers in that their over the top, outrageous, thrilling, fun, and beautifully choreographed and filmed. The action sequences with Dom and the gang driving their cars out of a plan in an operation to rescue the programmer who has the "Gods Eye" is insane as you'd expect from the Furious films, and it works especially with the banter between Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Chris Bridges (Ludacris). The inspiration and insane set piece in the towers of Abu Dhabi was wonderfully filmed, and edited making the action intense and seamless. The one question I had with the effects was how Paul Walker was going to be filmed. His brothers helped film Paul's scenes in the film, and along with great effects team the audience shouldn't notice that Paul's not actually Paul on the screen. There are only two scenes where I knew that the effects crew was using Paul from an earlier film, but other than that they did wonderful work with filming Paul Walker.
The future of Universal's Fast and Furious franchise is somewhat up in the air. Universal is planning on making an eighth film in the franchise how they go forward with the franchise is still a question mark. How does Universal deal with Brian O'Conner after the events of Furious Seven story wise, and how do they deal with Paul Walker moving forward, because the franchise will miss the actor as if the franchise lost both Paul and Vin the franchise wouldn't be the same. Sure the Furious films will still make money, but they wouldn't be as successful and Universal needs and actor/character with the same charm, charisma and moderate acting ability to Vin Diesel carry future films. Sure Universal could try and turn to Gibson and Ludacris, but the two are more sidekicks than stars, and whatever the future of the Fast and Furious series Furious Seven is a kickass film with great action, fun characters, and fitting and moving tribute to the late Paul Walker.