RECAP: Furious 7

Furious 7 (2015): James Wan

“Lucky seven” might be Hollywood’s new catchphrase. After Fast and Furious (#4) barely outgrossed the original, eight years later, the next three films ticked upward, ending with Furious 7. The 2015 entry in the car franchise earned more than $350 million domestically and topped $1.5 billion worldwide. Furious 7 made more money outside America than the other six movies made combined in America.

Compare those results with The Force Awakens, the all-time box office champion, also seventh in its franchise, and you have good reason to keep churning out franchises.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: After felling the bad guy in the last movie, the bad guy’s badder brother enters the fray to take vengeance on Dom and company. 

Hero (5/10)

We know by now that all that matters to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is family. We know that “family” can be anyone that he deems family. In Furious 7 that family comes under attack.

Dom’s made a lot of enemies in his days. Heat’s on Dom from all sides. Sometimes the government’s on his back, sometimes other street gangs, sometimes mercenaries, always the California sun. That’s why I can’t figure out why Dom’s favorite clothing item is the long sleeve thermal t-shirt. At least it’s unique to him.

Dom’s struggling with his relationship to Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Letty has caught a film character’s most prevalent disease–amnesia–and she doesn’t like Dom looking at her in the loving way he does. Dom is playing the nice guy, letting her ease back into their life together, and taking her to a desert race series they founded called Race Wars.

That doesn’t jog Letty’s memory, but Dom is patient. Nothing describes street racers like the word “patient”. He helps his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and “Still Miss the Bullets” Brian (Paul Walker in his last film role) take their son, Dom’s nephew, to school. One morning a box from Japan awaits Dom on his doorstep. Dom’s phone rings, and it’s a man identifying himself as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) calling from Tokyo. Shaw insinuates that he has just killed Dom’s friend Han.

Dom is a caring guy. But he’s also paranoid as hell. He listens to the news from Shaw and immediately assumes that the box on his porch from Japan is a bomb sent by that same Shaw. Yes, he was right, as the box explodes and nearly kills four people, but how topsy-turvy must your life be to make such connections first, and instantly? Makes you pity Dom a little.

Later, we learn from a government spook played by Kurt Russell that Shaw once fought off a team of 20 special ops troops. Numbers like “20” and words like “special ops” don’t frighten Dom. Russell’s Mr. Nobody offers Dom and company a chance to find Shaw, but first they must steal for him a tracking program called God’s Eye, and the only person who knows that program’s location is the hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), its inventor, and they have to get rescue her from the terrorists who are transporting her to a black site in Asia.

If you got lost in that sentence, don’t worry, because it will all be explained to you later. Just enjoy the show. Dom’s got you. A good villain brings out the best in a good hero, and Shaw brings out Dom’s most loyal. Dom doesn’t care about the power to track any person on Earth; he cares about the man who blew up his house and killed his friend.

Middling points for Dom because Diesel is a mediocre actor. The gravel voice is grating a little more these days, eh Dom?

Villain (6/10)

Furious 7 begins with Jason Statham angry at his brother’s hospital bedside. Deckard Shaw, the new bad guy, is the badder, meaner, deadlier brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), villain from the previous movie.

The new Shaw is one mean dude. He speaks to his brother lovingly. They believe in one bond, the same bond Dom believes in: family. Brotherly love was enough to draw Shaw from hiding and into a heavily guarded London hospital.

Furious 7 has plenty of action in store, so we can excuse opening the film by showing the aftermath of Shaw’s hospital invasion. After he tells his comatose brother that he will try to kill everyone who did this to him, Shaw leaves the hospital. Nurses, those still alive, cower from him. Light fixtures spark. Shaw walks onto an elevator. SWAT bodies are strewn about the floors of all the halls. Shaw pauses near a living SWAT member to give him a live grenade. Shaw leaves the building in flames. His only injury was a pair of dirty glasses.

A badass opening, yet Statham plays Shaw with seemingly little joy. Shaw exists with a singular purpose, to kill Dom and his “family”. He is the chief villain, and his fingerprints are on every plot point, but he shows up like a trickster god in each location.

It’s hard to keep in mind the plot of Furious 7. Shaw is out for revenge, and Dom has to find him and kill him. Plenty of folks get in the way until they duke it out, but the characters don’t forget.

Dom spends most of the movie trying to steal a program called God’s Eye, which can essentially find anyone anywhere. Shaw seems to have his own internal God’s Eye, because he can find Dom anytime anywhere. Shaw breaks in to Hobbs’s (Dwayne Johnson) office and steals some information. Shaw appears on a secure mountain road that Dom had to parachute a car onto. Shaw takes the elevator to a Jordanian prince’s party that he certainly did not have an invitation to. If I didn’t know better I’d say Shaw was Dr. Strange or Loki.

Shaw’s martial skill set is better known from what characters say about him. I mentioned the 20 special forces guys he took out. The best Shaw can do is draw in a street fight with Dominic Toretto. He nearly kills Hobbs in the latter’s office. Only a collapsing parking garage fells him, though even that doesn’t kill him.

Shaw owns many dangerous weapons. He sports an automatic rifle with attached grenade launcher inside a skyscraper and a sniper rifle for working in the mountains. They are not his weapons of choice. You must admire a villain whose favorite weapon is the grenade. Guns cause harm in one direction. Grenades spread destruction in all directions. They carry much risk to the user, but to achieve what Shaw has achieved in life requires plenty of risk. His weapon choice tells me he has embraced risk.

Action/Effects (9/10)

The Fast and Furious franchise keeps finding ways to push the envelope. Let’s talk about plane jumping.


Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson) plan was to drop cars from a plane onto an Azerbaijani mountain road. He wasn’t happy to do it, once he got on the plane. But the plan worked. Five cars ejected from the plane, blew their chutes, and landed on the road.

Not far ahead is the convoy carrying Ramsey. A bus and six cars ride along the tree-lined road. Once Dom and his team come in sight, the security leader (Tony Jaa) orders a defensive formation.

Two jeeps ride abreast and open their backs to reveal machine guns, which open up on the lead cars. Wisely, they have bulletproof glass. Tej (Ludacris) takes the lead in his heavily armored jeep as the other three cars (Dom, Letty, Brian) fall in line behind.

The three cars shove into Tej and use him as a battering ram to nudge the four defensive cars off the road. One flips over and the others spin out.

Dom’s team flanks the bus and shoots some magnetic projectiles at the sides, just as the bus’s luggage compartments open to reveal…enormous guns! Six heavy machine guns paste Tej’s and Brian’s cars with armor-piercing rounds, Tej informs everyone, as none of the rounds pierce his armor. They back off. Meanwhile, the cars they spun out are back on the road.

Letty and Dom fire grappling hooks into the bus’s rear. Letty flashes Dom a smile. She might not remember him, but she loves driving with him. Tej and Brian explode the charges attached to the back, sending Tony Jaa flying toward the front of the bus. Letty and Dom hit the brakes, wrenching the back from the bus and into the enemy jeep trailing, exploding it as a goon leans out the side with a bazooka.

The best part about this plan is that so far they haven’t needed Roman to do anything. Last to parachute from the plane, he’s still AWOL.

Brian kicks out his windshield and stands on the hood. Luckily, they didn’t encounter any turns on this winding mountain road while attempting this next move. Tej drives into Brian’s car so Brian can leap onto the bus and into a henchman.

Brian knocks out one guy and uses the next one as a human shield. He steals a gun and shoots two other bad guys in the bus before unmasking Ramsey and freeing her.

“If you don’t jump we’re going to die,” Brian shouts as Ramsey hesitates to jump onto Dom’s car. If she were a fan of the Furious franchise she would have no problem doing that.

Meanwhile, Kurt Russell’s crew has tracked an unidentified vehicle barreling through the forest toward the fracas. It’s not Roman, so who could it be?

“Welcome to the party, Mr. Shaw,” cracks Kurt Russell from his command center. Shaw, driving an armored dune buggy, smashes into Dom’s car, almost knocking Ramsey from her perch on the hood. Shaw smiles at Dom. Chaos is his thing. Still not sure he isn’t Loki.

Tony Jaa wakes up. His hair is slicked back, and that explosion messed with his ‘do. He’s pissed. He grabs Brian and drags him from the bus’s edge. There’s maybe five people in the world who could beat Tony Jaa in a fight, and I don’t think Paul Walker is one of them. Yet, he’s the good guy, so he holds his own, dodging and blocking kicks and delivering elbows to shoulders.

Dom does a neat trick where he revs the engine just right to pop the hood and its passenger–Ramsey–to and through the sunroof. Dom, Shaw, and two easily dispatched goon cars drive into the forest and down the hill, spinning left before they fly over a cliff.

Tony Jaa battles Brian. Jaa’s punches whip through the air like ropes. Jaa front flips inside the bus and into Brian.

While Brian is pinned to the table, Letty spots an RPG launcher sticking out the sunroof behind her. She drives past the bus. Brian, his face pasted to the desk, sees the enemy vehicle on the monitor and beside the bus, right where the machine guns are pointing.

Taking drastic action, Brian grabs Jaa’s junk and his head, smashing it onto the big red button that shoots the bus machine guns, peppering the enemy car and knocking off the road. (Tony Bennett voice) Great, great move Brian. Also, the bus driver is shot.

Funny how drivers shot always keep their feet on the gas pedal, right? After crushing a few trees, the bus ramps up a hillside and falls on its side, sliding toward a cliff edge. Jaa locks Brian in the bus’s front half. “Too slow,” he taunts, before safely rolling out the bus. The bus teeters over the cliff.

Back to Dom and Shaw. They battle on another cliff edge. Out of nowhere zooms Roman. “I’m back bitches,” he says to no one but himself. Roman knocks the startled Shaw off the mountainside.

Brian saves himself, by climbing out the bus and running up the chassis as it falls over the edge, leaping to grab the spoiler on Letty’s car as she spins it, timed perfectly, to be where Brian needed it to be in the only moment that would save his life.

Dom rejoins the road and sends Roman to get the others. Somehow there’s 13 bad guy cars on the road, where before there were only six. Who knows where they came from?

These cars surround Dom like a caged animal. Goons wearing black masks pop out and aim large guns at Dom. Meanwhile, Shaw is out of his car and running while arming a huge sniper rifle.

Out of a Suburban steps Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), the man who captured Ramsey. He wants to know who Dom is, and will let him live if he gives up Ramsey.

No dice. Dom kicks up some dust. “You might want to put your helmet on,” he snidely says to Ramsey. Dom drives off the mountain. Metal and rubber fly from the car as it flips again and again hundreds of feet down the mountainside.

Way down below, Dom falls out of the car as the rest of the team arrives.

Sidekicks (3/8)

Ramsey, coder extraordinaire, immediately categorizes Dom’s crew. She knows Dom is Alpha, Letty Mrs. Alpha, Tej is the hacker, Brian ex-cop or ex-Fed, and Roman’s the joker.

“No,” Roman says. “Double alpha.” I’ll never understand the casting decision to make Tyrese Gibson, arguably the finest man in the world, to be the comic relief. He’s funny in Furious 7, but’s that’s all he is. Roman decided to challenge for group leadership in this film. He demands to plan for the Ramsey rescue. When Tej actually has a plan, Roman takes credit for his delegating.

Sadly, Roman seems to have little utility to the group. In the Caucasus, Roman gets lost during the parachute drop he was too scared to do anyway. He shows up very late to bump Shaw off of Dom, and that’s it. The group didn’t need him at all. Later, at the prince’s party in Abu Dhabi, Roman creates a distraction. That’s it.

Ludacris as Tej plays a minor role here. Ramsey joins him as a hacker, a better one, though less skilled at martial combat. Tej is cursed with listening to Roman’s blathering and resisting punching him.

Letty can’t remember her previous six movies. Brian is also there, fighting to be with his children again, although he might not be into domestic life as much as he wants to be. Hobbs spends most of the movie in the hospital.

The characters take a backseat to the action in Furious 7. Often, that’s a detriment to a film. In this case, however, franchise fans know the characters very well and don’t need much development from them. This movie has plenty of new folks to introduce us to, anyway.

Henchmen (7/8)

Tony Jaa I mentioned before. Thai action god Jaa brings his spectacular stunt skills to his first Hollywood role. He has only one line, but Jaa’s skill set need not include the ability to deliver a good quip.

Statham is also new to the franchise. So is Ronda Rousey, though she only gets one scene, a great stylish fight with Letty in cocktail dresses.

My favorite baddie is accomplished bit player Hounsou as Jakande. Jakande could be the villain in a different film. He’s captured the world’s greatest hacker to control the world’s greatest surveillance program, God’s Eye.

Jakande has no fear. He flies a heavily armored helicopter above Los Angeles streets. How did he plan on escaping the country after this? He must have known that the Air Force would come after him, as they did during the climactic street race.

The Air Force was too late to stop Jakande, but they sent fighter jets to chase the chopper. Jakande would never have outflown those jets. He must be either insane or have the best escape plan since Napoleon fled Elba.

Stunts (6/6)

The Furious movies are basically one giant stunt sequence. Its biggest stunt? Making an eight-plus film franchise starring Vin Diesel the most profitable in the world right now.

Ha. Let’s get serious. Furious 7 features an insane premise in its middle. Not that Vin Diesel is a great actor, or the part where a car flies through two buildings. I’ll get to that. I’m talking about the scene in which Letty goes toeless heels to toeless heels with Ronda Rousey.

In Abu Dhabi, the crew has traced the God’s Eye disk drive to a Jordanian prince who lives in a penthouse atop one of a quintet of skyscrapers known as Etihad Towers. This disk drive is located inside an expensive car called a Lykan Hypersport locked in a vault atop the building.

Not much of the prince’s behavior makes sense, but, as a random friend of Ramsey says, when you’re a billionaire, you can do what you like with your toys.

Dom’s crew dolls up to attend the prince’s party, and it’s a showstopper. Big booty babes and low-cut dresses, dancers painted in gold a la Goldfinger, and T-Pain on the turntables make the party Roman-friendly. He says he will become a “blarab” or black Arab.

There’s a plan to nab the disk, of course, and Tej makes everyone check their roles. Roman is mad because he doesn’t seem to have a role. Tej soothes him, telling him that there will come a time when they need a distraction, when Roman must “shine brightly like only Roman can do.”

Roman starts in on the Birthday Routine, in which he selects a woman whom he dubs Jasmine and wants to celebrate it as her 18th birthday. He takes a mic and shuts down T-Pain to announce to everyone Jasmine’s birthday. Slick trick, which draws attention of the guards and allows Dom and Brian to slip into the vault with the car with disk drive.

Inside the vault, Dom and Brian are upset because they’ve discovered the Jordanian prince to be a hoarder. This car he owns is a Lykan Hypersport, valued at $3.4 million, one of seven in the world, and he’s caged it. Dom says that you can’t cage a beast. He proceeds to lift the bulletproof car so Brain can poke around underneath.

Letty breaks from the party to infiltrate a room to cut a wire. I forgot why she did that. Security programs, maybe? Anyway, it gives us a chance to watch her fight off three bodyguards. Those women she easily dispatches as their boss watches.

Rousey, wearing a nice dress, is the prince’s chief bodyguard. Good choice. She’s bored of parties and eager to fight Letty. Rousey lands the first blow, knocking Letty into a chair. Letty pops up and smashes a vase into Rousey, which barely slows her.

The pair trade blows until Rousey lifts Letty, turns her upside down, and throws her through a decorative wood screen. Letty recovers enough to toss Rousey and smash another vase into her arms. Again Rousey seems to not notice the glass broken on her person and tackles Letty over a chair. The camera rotates over itself as the fighters do.

To free herself from a hold, Rousey slides one leg along the marble floor into a split. She mounts Letty and punches her with brutal precision until Letty gains leverage and reverses the mount. Letty has a knife magnetically attached to a band around her leg, and she takes that out and stabs Rousey’s leg. She felt that one.

Both ladies stumble and roll into the hall and over a railing onto T-Pain’s turntables. At this moment, Dom crashes the rare car into the party space. They haven’t found the disk drive yet, so they have to drive the car until they do.

The elevator door dings open. Of course it’s Shaw, who is late to parties but knows how to make an entrance, and of course he’s carrying a machine gun with attached grenade launcher. Shaw fights off some guards before opening up on the loud car skidding across the marble floor that was probably just waxed.

Remember, the car is bulletproof. Shaw figures that out quickly. The car’s probably not grenade-proof. Shaw fires one and misses. Dom knows they can’t win this battle, because he already tried to run over Shaw and that did nothing. Dom has a crazy idea.

“Cars don’t fly,” Brian says, getting the idea but forgetting the earlier scene in the Caucasus Mountains. Dom drives that car right through the glass side of the tower. Shaw pops a grenade that detonates on the car’s rear.

In slow motion, from close up and far back, we watch the car soar through the orange sky between two desert towers. The car smashes into the next tower on a lower floor still under construction. As it knocks out dozens of steel beams, Dom discovers that the car has lost its brakes. If you don’t drive a car enough, it will lose its drivability. Any car owner knows that. Shame on that prince for not maintaining his vault-locked vehicle.

Brian figures out where the disk drive is, smashing a monitor in the car’s center. They can’t stop the car, the only recourse being to drive into the next tower. More slow motion, more wide shots, more broken glass. This tower is occupied. Dom has driven into an art exhibition.

On display are several Chinese terracotta warriors. The Xian pieces do travel the world, some of them, so they might be in an Abu Dhabi art exhibition. Dom smashes them all. I can’t wrap my ahead around the symbolism of a Lebanese car smashing Chinese treasures on display in the UAE in an American film.

Anyway, Brian bails out of the car, as does Dom, before the Lykan bails out of the tower. With no other towers to go to, it crashes on the ground. “Still miss the bullets?” Dom asks Brian.

Flying between towers might be the craziest idea the franchise has ever cooked up. Everything about Furious 7 is over the top–amnesia, parachuting cars, a villain who always knows where his adversaries are and always gets to them with seemingly no trouble, a piece of technology that can track anyone anywhere, cars crashing through towers–all of this, and still the movie works.

Did Furious 7 succeed through luck? Sometimes you can throw five delicious foods into a casserole. Most of the time it sucks. On rare occasions the result blows your mind. This might be a rare occasion.

Climax (5/6)

Furious 7 ends with one of the most improbable, insane battles in action history. So much occurs that novels could be written on it, but I suspect the ending was a key driver in the film’s $1.5 billion global intake.

The crew knows a war is coming, so they take Ramsey to the streets they know best–Los Angeles’s. The team hatches a plan to play Hot Potato with Ramsey as she tries to hack God’s Eye. Tej explains that, for some reason known only to the screenwriters, Ramsey must be within two miles of the God’s Eye chip to hack it.

Three cars drive the streets as Jakande flies his chopper after them. Ramsey is first with Brian and is tracked immediately. Jakande drops a predator drone to attack. Start up the insane stunts. Brian drives beneath a truck bed, using it to protect from drone gunfire.

Brian escapes to drive past Disney Hall and attract the attention of a cop. That cop immediately dies. Some people just aren’t made for the streets. Ramsey, hacking all the while into the God’s Eye drive Jakande has onboard the chopper, gets 50% of the work done before it’s time for the first toss in Hot Potato.

Spectacular move number two: Brian and Roman, approaching each other, spin their cars close enough that Ramsey can leap through Brian’s window and into Roman’s without breaking a nail. Brian bails out of his car as a drone missile destroys it. Ramsey reaches 90% on her hack.

Roman drives around Ramsey and Tej awhile, dodging drone shots, until Jakande figures out that a nearby radio tower is the source of the hacker signal. He orders it shot down. As the tower collapses in flames, Ramsey’s hack stalls at 97%. The drone tracks the car, shattering glass on buildings throughout downtown LA. Another drone missile takes out Roman’s car after the trio bails out underneath a bridge and Ramsey is picked up by Letty.

You’re probably wondering what Dom and Shaw are doing. Dom has taken his last car amongst many, a turbocharged muscle car with engine block protruding from hood, and driven it to a local parking deck to face off with Shaw. These men have familial debts to repay. God’s Eye means nothing to them.

They play chicken for a second time. Dom, at the last second, revs his car enough to get the front wheels airborne and smashes them on top of Shaw’s car. Dom wastes no time blasting his sawed-off shotgun through the floor at Shaw, who returns fire with a pistol.

Both men stumble out of their cars. Shaw is ready to fistfight. Dom points the shotgun at him and asks Shaw if he thought this was a street fight. “You’re god damn right it is.” Dom removes two two-foot-long wrenches. Shaw matches the weaponry with two scraps of metal from his ravaged car. They prepare to fight.

You might ask what Hobbs is doing. He’s in his hospital room watching TV when news coverage breaks to show some close up footage of a cop car being destroyed. The newscasters don’t know what the problem is, but Hobbs does. As he watches the radio tower crumble outside his window, he mutters one word, “Toretto.”

Hobbs hops out of his bed. His daughter nearby watches as he flexes off his hard cast. That’s right, The Rock broke a cast WITH THE POWER OF HIS MUSCLES. Spectacular move number eight, that deserved a standing ovation. Hobbs steals an ambulance to help his friends.

Remember when Tony Jaa escaped on the bus in the Caucasus? He’s back and leading a fight against Brian inside an abandoned building. Brian kills some goons easily, but Jaa is a hard itch to scratch. These two fight with all manner of tools left lying around.

Their fight is decidedly one-sided. Brain lands barely any blows as Jaa does things like roundhouse kick Brian, run backwards up a wall, and ride Brian down a stairwell using a door like a sled. At one point Jaa has a piece of an engine block poised to smash Brian’s head. Brian hooks a rope to Jaa’s belt using a carabiner. This rope is wrapped around a wooden wheel that Brian kicks down a shaft. “Too slow,” he says, calling back to the bus.

Letty is the last one with a working car. She drives Ramsey around until she finishes the hack, easily done with Brian’s help atop a building. God’s Eye doesn’t stop the drone tracking them. One missile hits Letty’s car. Letty outruns the blast by gassing the car. In a tunnel, the drone easily maneuvers amongst other cars, scraping the wall and flying on with no trouble. Its pilot must be world-class.

Letty exits the tunnel and, in Spectacular Move Number I’m Losing Count, Hobbs crashes the stolen ambulance through a bridge barrier down onto the drone as it exits the tunnel. Hobbs shoulders out the broken windshield, approaches the drone, and double taps the ominous green camera eye. Letty asks where the cavalry is. “Woman,” Hobbs answers, “I am the cavalry.”

Air Force jets are finally coming to take out Jakande, but the crime lord doesn’t care. He wants blood because he’s lost God’s Eye. The chopper approaches the parking garage where Dom and Shaw continue to fight. These guys have traded blow for several minutes by now but show no signs of fatigue.

Dom and Shaw swing their metal instruments gracefully. They never protect their bodies, expecting to land killing blows with each strike, and often striking the other’s metal weapon. Dom lands the majority of blows. He punches a car once and doesn’t flinch. Shaw hits his face with a metal pole and Dom reacts like it was a glove slap.

Dom throws Shaw repeatedly into car windshields. Shaw never loses his grimace. Remember, this is strictly personal. For Jakande it’s personal now, too, and he arrives on the scene to kill Dom, and Shaw, if need be. Jakande fires a missile at the parking garage, opening a crack in the concrete that might indicate a shoddy construction job. Southern California structures need to be resistant to missile strikes, alien invasions, earthquakes, volcanoes, and whatever else Hollywood can cook up to destroy its home city.

As the concrete cracks around Shaw, Dom tells him the one thing about street fighting he doesn’t know. “The street always wins.” Dom curb stomps the ground and Shaw falls five stories.

If you think that was the end of it, think again. The chopper is still flying. Hobbs, who earlier took the drone’s minigun because he thought he might need it, walks along the street peppering the chopper with hundreds of rounds. Jakande isn’t flying naked, and he orders his minion to shoot back. Hobbs makes easy work of this man. Jakande takes the dead man’s place and shoots back at Hobbs. Neither man backs down.

The parking garage, LA’s most hallowed structure type, crumbles. Dom has to drive out, but first he has a plan. He descends a couple of levels as cars and concrete rain around him until he finds an incline ahead of him. Dom hits the nitro and zooms up the ramp and toward the helicopter, whose pilot banks away. The camera is very far back to capture the slow motion ascent and descent of Dom’s last ride.

What the camera did not catch, but Hobbs did, was Dom affixing a bag of grenades to the chopper. I think even the terrific stunt team couldn’t figure out his to film that move, so they didn’t. Hobbs draws his handgun and shoots the explosives until they do what they do best–explode.

Dom’s car flips and rolls onto the rest of concrete wreckage. Letty screams and Hobbs removes slabs. Dom tumbles out of the car like a sack of flour. Brian does some CPR that doesn’t work. Letty begs him to leave him be. She cradles Dom’s head and says, “I remember everything.”

Turns out they got married and Letty promised to die if Dom dies. She ain’t ready to leave yet. That’s when Dom wakes up. Turns out he was possuming the whole time.

Later, the ending. The team assembles on a beach in, presumably, California. They watch Brian play with Mia and their son. We know what’s going on. Paul Walker died during this film’s production, and he has to be sent off somehow.

Jokes (1/4)

A few jokes are provided. Thank you, Furious 7, for reminding us that we should not take your world seriously.

Thank you for reminding us that cars parachuting from planes can land on the exact part of the mountain they need to land on. Thank you for collapsing parking decks in a way that allows good guys to ramp their cars toward helicopters. Thank you for providing The Rock with a bridge to fall from and an ambulance to drive onto an enemy predator drone. Thank you for reminding us that guys in hoodies can run up buses falling over cliffs. Thank you for letting us know that $3 million dollar cars can soar between skyscrapers.

All these actions are seriously portrayed in Furious 7. For comic relief we have Tyrese Gibson as Roman. Roman decides to challenge for clan leadership in this film. He demands to plan the Caucasus infiltration. As leader, he delegates the actual planning to Tej and Dom. That’s what good leaders do.

After Roman’s plan works and they rescue Ramsey, he claims to be the group’s double alpha to Dom’s alpha position. Roman is the team’s exuberant dog. At the Abu Dhabi party he shines brightly, stealing attention like a puppy bound up in the house all day.

We expect joking from The Rock, but he’s hobbled for too much of the movie. Statham acts like he lives in the Furious world, and Russell always has a good time. Ludacris is a nerd, Walker’s a cop, Diesel’s the leader, and Rodriguez only smiles when she’s about to punch someone. Thus, Gibson must carry the comic weight. He gives it the old college try, but comes off hamfisted.

Setting (1/4)

Abu Dhabi is the film’s most interesting setting. The Emirates remain the world’s newest luxury players. Casual moviegoers still need visual cues.

Expansive sandy desert? Check. Dom’s team drives five cars for five people along a road toward the city. Why didn’t they carpool?

Oil refinery? Check. Shaw hides out there after breaking up the oil prince’s party. Plenty of barrels sitting around waiting to be blown up by Shaw’s grenades.

Gleaming, lifeless towers? Check check check. A Jordanian prince uses the marbled penthouse in an Etihad Tower to throw a glamorous party full of many non-Arabs.

What did we learn about Abu Dhabi? Nothing. Aside from what I saw I learned nothing about the city nor the nation. Furious 7 isn’t a BBC documentary, but it makes the emirate seem vacuous and shiny. One point for effort, no more.

Commentary (1/2)

After Paul Walker’s death in 2013, Furious 7 production paused. The studio initially hired Weta Workshop, famed creators of Gollum, to help digitize Walker for the film’s remainder. Instead they found that Walker’s two brothers resembled him, at least in physique.

The brothers stood in for several scenes, allowing Weta to recreate Walker’s face for a few shots. They did a great job. In Brian’s final appearance, his face doesn’t quite match his body, but it was the only obvious CGI moment. Furious 7 did a better job sending off his character.

Brian plays in the surf with wife and son. The team watches on. Each character has a shot watching the scene of domesticity. Dom leaves the beach without saying goodbye. “It’s never goodbye,” he says.

As Dom drives through California’s hilly roads, he pulls up to a stop sign. Brian stops beside him. “You think you could leave without saying goodbye?” Dom, contemplative, looks at his so-called brother. In a voiceover he says, “You’ll always be with me, and you’ll always be my brother.” Dom takes the right fork in the road and Brian the left and drives into the sunset.

A touching tribute to a franchise stallwart, Furious 7 plays out with a montage of Paul Walker clips from the series. They made the right decision to retire Brian rather than kill him.

Offensiveness (0/-2)

The Furious 7 franchise is well regarded for its diverse cast, which certainly aided its box office take. Hollywood is very slowly taking notice.


  • I’m out breath and have nothing else to say. Still gotta end this thing.

Summary (44/68): 65%

In a series based around souped up street racing cars, the word “restraint” doesn’t figure. Filmmakers of Furious 7 act like they’ve never heard the word nor considered the concept. After the success of adding The Rock to the franchise in the fifth installment, the producers decided to throw all their darts at the target and see what stuck.

Jason Statham and Kurt Russell brought acting chops and decades of action film gravitas to their roles. That wasn’t enough for Wan and crew, who added Tony Jaa AND Ronda Rousey for fight scenes. Throw in an always good Djimon Hounsou and you would think they’d overstuffed the film.

Not so. All those darts landed near the bullseye. A couple extra darts hit the triple spots. Furious 7, on paper, should be the most bloated action film of the decade. Its parts work together to bring this behemoth to a satisfying conclusion to the series. They even found a touching way to send out Paul Walker. What a way to go out.

(record scratch) There’s at least THREE more?

Let’s do it.