‘Furious 7’: for Paul

By on April 29, 2015

Over the weekend, the latest installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise continued to dominate the box office. “Furious 7” has now surpassed “Frozen” to move into the fifth position of highest grossing films of all time with more than $1.3 billion …with a b! The first installment had a meager budget of $38 million and quickly recouped its cost during opening weekend in June 2001. No wonder Universal Pictures is milking this story line as long as they can.

Once again, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew of hard hitting drivers have found themselves in the middle of an exaggerated position, this time a two-headed mission to steal a powerful weapon poised to cause worldwide carnage and defend themselves against an evil force looking for revenge. Bent on making the drivers pay for what they did to his brother in “Fast & Furious 6,” Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) begins systematically targeting each member of the outlaws-turned-good-guys gang.

Shaw has already gotten to Han (Sung Kang) and almost wipes out half the crew until Toretto figures out a mysterious package on the front porch is a bomb seconds before it explodes. Meant to kill Brian O’Conner (Paul Rudd) and Toretto’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), the bomb forces the crew into action to save their own skin, but there’s a twist in the elementary plot.

Enter Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel), a government shadow man who fills Toretto in on how he can find Shaw before revenge finds the rest of the team. He is tasked with rescuing Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, “Game of Thrones”), a super-hacker who has created God’s Eye, a device with the ability to manipulate every piece of electronics in the world. If they save Ramsey, who has been kidnapped and is being transported by a heavily armed force through a treacherous roadway in a remote Middle Eastern land, Toretto can use the program to locate Shaw. The plan is to drop car-with drivers inside-out of a military plane and descend safely to the road to intercept the kidnappers led by terrorist Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).

Among the many starts of “Furious 7” are (left to right) Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, the late Paul Walker and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.

Among the many starts of “Furious 7” are (left to right) Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, the late Paul Walker and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.

Yes, they drop the cars out of a plane. This is the type of action to be expected in “Furious 7.” The writers put in just enough explanation to suspend disbelief and, as a fan of action films, I didn’t mind believing anything was possible. In one instance Toretto and Brian find themselves launching a $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport supercar from building to building. The cheesy line here is, “cars don’t fly.” There are lots of explosions, lots of girls in bikinis, and lots of bad acting. But, there is also some good acting. Dwayne Johnson (formerly The Rock) knows not to take himself seriously in the roll of Hobbs, Toretto’s love interest’s “Pops.” Just like the previous films, Ludacris (who plays Tej) turns in a fun, wisecracking performance.

What came as a shocker — although I should have expected it — was the tear jerking ending to “Furious 7” and what I feel should be the end of the franchise. (Universal has confirmed a release date of April 14, 2017 for an eighth film.) The end is one long goodbye to Paul Walker who died in car accident unrelated to the movie close to the end of filming “Furious 7.” In 2013, Walker was a passenger in a friend’s 2005 Porsche Carrera GT when traveling at a high rate of speed the car left the motorway striking several items and bursting into flames. The autopsy suggests Walker died instantly.

The end features a tribute to Walker by Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa titled “See You Again,” which is set behind video captures of Walker from previous films. It’s almost impossible for eyes not to well up. The credits begin after the message “For Paul” appears alone on the screen.

Up next: “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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