Furious 7

★★★
The ultimate summer movie, despite its April release.
Movie Review #960

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It’s been at least two years since I’ve had this much fun at the movies. “Furious 7” is good news for 2015: a movie that is nothing more and nothing less than the ultimate summer movie. (And ironically, it’s ahead of the game by two whole months.) You can imagine that it was just as fun to make as it is to watch, because it’s not casually mindless; it’s infatuated with its own mindlessness, and that, seemingly, has made all the difference here.

The movie opens in a hospital, with Jason Statham delivering a soliloquy over his comatose brother. What the scene promises—and what the soliloquy clearly asserts—is that what will unfold next would be a revenge story where Statham finds Vin Diesel, in the role of the man who killed his brother (er, made him comatose) and avenges him. There’s that, but dramatic depth isn’t the reason this film entertains so well through its run time of well over two hours. The story is complemented by what feels like a continuous line of action sequences. Sometimes they move the story along, but it just so happens that the most exhilarating scene here is the one you saw in the trailer, where the team skydives inside their cars.

“Furious 7” takes pride in establishing itself on the grounds of implausibility. This isn’t just NASCAR, or maybe it’s exactly that, but on an epic scale. The movie proves that you don’t have to be Matt Groening to make us believe in characters that evade death and don’t really think anything of it. If there was any single death in “Furious 7”, he or she was the Maude Flanders to this movie.

Director James Wan started his career with “Saw” in 2004. He continued through 2013 with several similar, low-budget, story-driven horror movies (notably, “Insidious”, “The Conjuring”). His shift into action movie territory is a large jump, but it’s entirely welcome. The best thing about his leap into the director’s chair for “Furious 7” is that clearly, a $190 million budget and strict studio control aren’t enough to stop him from bending and breaking cinematic convention. And let’s be honest, we all forgot what that looked like in an American action movie. To refresh your memory, it’s like defying gravity, except there’s another bonus level of awesomeness.

Note: The movie is notable as Paul Walker’s last. It’s been a year and a half since his death, but the tribute included at the end is still quite emotional.

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