We are through the looking glass here, people. We have reached peak Hollywood. There is nothing negative anyone can say about Furious 7 (aka Fast & Furious 7) that cannot be taken as a positive. There is the “review-proof movie” that will gather a massive audience no matter what we egghead critics think of it, and then there’s the movie that is actually hardened against reviews like it’s coated in Teflon: scoffing just slides right off it.
I could say that this is the kind of movie in which, when someone says to a child who has just tossed a toy, “Hey, buddy, cars don’t fly,” you may rest assured that cars will indeed fly, in more than one scene… and there are those who will think that clever. (The A-Team movie made a tank fly, and that was fun, and funny. Here it’s not only obnoxious overkill but doing a thing that has already been done, and better. A car crashing into a helicopter in midair? Also been done.)
I could say that Michael Bay would be jealous of how director James Wan — who has specialized in horror movies (Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring) and has not made a movie on this colossal scale before — makes a virtue out of fetishizing cars and guns and grenades and even USB flash drives, for Hef’s sake, in the same way that he fetishizes the bikini-clad asses of anonymous women… and there are those who will think that this will add to their enjoyment of the film.
I could say that it’s completely ridiculous how a movie series that started out as a scrappy little film with a cheesy Roger Corman-esque energy has now somehow morphed into a tediously clichéd global superspy action pileup, like The Dukes of Hazzard meets James Bond… and those who applaud the intersection of American exceptionalism and American disregard for fuel economy will cheer.
I could say that the massive amount of collateral damage spread among multiple cities around the planet doesn’t even rise to the level of being ignored by the “heroes” because it’s ignored by the movie itself… and there are those who will cry “Woo-hoo!” All those times that Vin Diesel (Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) here mumbles something about “family,” as in “better not mess with it”? Should we presume that the loved ones of all the faceless innocent bystanders and cops-just-doing-their-jobs who are grievously injured or killed here feel the same way? May we presume that Furious 8 will be about one or more of them getting revenge on the great Dom Toretto (who will totally deserve it)?*
I could say that Furious 7 is about nothing so much as two men having sex with their cars, and by this I do not mean two men have sex separately with their own automobiles, though there’s definitely an undercurrent of that, too. I mean that two men — Diesel as the “hero” and Jason Statham (Wild Card, The Expendables 3) as the “villain,” though they’re barely distinguishable in action or motive — use their automobiles to have violent sex with each other, by crashing into each other head-on in penis-substitute vehicles not once in this movie but twice, they liked it so much the first time. And, well, some will cry, “Vin and Stath ain’t no fags!” But c’mon! You cannot explain away the homoeroticism of the scene in which Vin grumbles that a sportscar is a “beast” that he is about to “unleash” and which he then smashes into not one but two other non-car penis substitutes. You just can’t. There’s nothing wrong with two men loving each other very much, but let’s at least be honest about it.
Like Bay, Wan — and screenwriter Chris Morgan (47 Ronin, Fast & Furious 6) — is more concerned with cool than with common sense, even for action-movie values of common sense. The flick opens with the revelation of some massive infrastructure damage caused by Statham, as a former special-forces assassin turned brother-avenger. At first this seems inventive and funny but almost instantly it becomes mystifying. It’s supposed to be ensuring the well-being of his brother Luke Evans, who was the bad guy last time out, but it seems rather more likely to hinder that. Soon, government MIB Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell: The Art of the Steal, Death Proof) is enlisting Dom Toretto (Diesel) and his street-racing gang to get back a piece of highly sensitive and even more highly classified surveillance technology from the terrorist (Djimon Hounsou: Seventh Son, How to Train Your Dragon 2) who has stolen it — because that would totally happen. The payment? Vin can then use that tech to track down Stath so they can have the aforementioned car sex– er, I mean, so that Vin can kill Stath in revenge for Stath’s revenge on them, which is being expressed in explosions. Through the looking glass, people: Why not trust a guy like Dom with technology so godlike it’s actually called God’s Eye? Why not have a fleet of brand-new way-cool muscle cars ready to go at a moment’s notice in a farflung place like, oh, Abu Dhabi in case Dom brings his brand of car-nage there and needs to refit his gang? Don’t all street racers have a U.S. Federal black budget to operate with? Of course they do.
(“Mr. Nobody,” by the way, is not as funny as Penguins of Madagascar’s “Agent Classified,” and it’s kinda pathetic that a cartoon about escaped zoo animals is wittier than this. And if Kurt Russell makes you think, as it did me, “Hey, is this turning into an Expendables movie?” and then you have to look it up to remember whether Russell has actually been in an Expendables movie — he hasn’t — then you are through the looking glass too.)
When I say that Furious 7 is absurdly convoluted, there are those who will reply, But that’s part of the fun! When I say that Furious 7 is too long — two hours and 20 minutes is just plain uncalled for — there are those who will say, Can’t have too much Furious! The only truly emotional moment in this aggressively sentimental movie — see above for all the menacing mumbling about family — is the tribute to the recently deceased Paul Walker (Brick Mansions, Vehicle 19) at the end, which brought an actual tear to my eye… and when I say that the movie ruined that, too, by dragging it out too long, there are those who will call me heartless.
Fine. But I’m not the one who made sure that vehicular warfare would be brought to downtown Los Angeles when it could have taken place in the middle of the desert with no uninvolved parties around. That would be “our heroes.”
*Following on from the nomenclature of this film, we can guess that the next film, ‘Fast and Furious in Space!’ (because there’s nowhere else to go), will be entitled ‘F8’ (aka ‘Fate’). And then the ninth will be just ‘Nth,’ and after that will come ‘X,’ then the title for ‘11’ will be simply two short grunts from Vin Diesel.