Thursday, February 18, 2016
Directed by James Wan and screenplay by Chris Morgan from characters created by Gary Scott Thompson, Furious 7 is the story of Dominic Torretto, Brian O’Conner, and the rest of their family being hunted down by an assassin wanting vengeance while the team tries to recover a computer chip with the aid of the chip‘s designer. The film is a revenge film of sorts where it’s the good guys that are being hunted where they have to go after the hunter before he kills them all. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Elsa Pataky, Djimon Hounsou, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Tony Jaa, Lucas Black, and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw. Furious 7 is a wild and exhilarating film from James Han.
Picking up where the last film leaves off, it revolves around a group of drivers who consider themselves family where the events in the last mission have them being hunted by a former assassin in Deckard Shaw whose brother Owen (Luke Evans) was crippled and left in a coma by Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his team. For Torretto, the recent death of one of his friends and the attempt on the life of him and his family forces him to find Shaw and stop him as he is aided by a covert ops agent named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to stop Shaw and retrieve a computer software chip that has surveillance on everyone known as God’s Eye. With Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) on the team while Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) is at a safe house in the Dominican Republic and DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recuperating from an attack from Shaw that nearly killed him. Torretto is forced to deal with someone that is dangerous.
While the script is very simple, there is a lot that is happening as it relates to the characters as Letty struggles to regain bits of her lost memories while O’Conner is also coping with being a father as he is unaware that Mia is pregnant again. It adds a lot to what is at stake where it’s not just Torretto needing to make sure that his family stays together following the loss of key members as well as those like O’Conner who has another life that is far more important. Adding to these elements of what is stake where the team has to retrieve the designer of this software named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who has been captured by friends of Shaw that wants God’s Eye so they can use it for themselves. The chip is a MacGuffin but it does play into a lot of what needs to be done where it is a good plot device while screenwriter Chris Morgan also provides some laughs and dramatic moments that do give the film some depth but also not take itself so seriously.
James Wan’s direction is definitely stylish as he doesn’t really do anything new in terms of what is expected in compositions and action sequences. Yet, he does manage to do a lot more in the latter where it borders the line of ridiculous and insanity but all in a very fun way. Shot in various locations such as Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, and some shots in Atlanta and mountains in Colorado, the film has a global feel that is massive where Wan does take advantage of the locations while maintaining something that plays into a world where everything is in danger. The usage of wide and medium shots are prevalent throughout while Wan also maintains an intimacy for the non-action scenes where he knows where to give the audience a break on the action and establish what is going on and what needs to be done. The action sequences are intense as it adds to a lot of what is at stake while it also play into moments that are just unbelievable. Yet, it is so fun where has this energy that is just potent where it’s not just about car chases and violence but also the thrill of it. While the film’s ending is poignant as it relates to a key character in the franchise, it at least gives that character a fitting send-off. Overall, Wan creates a fun and exciting film about a bunch of street racers fighting against some crazed assassin.
Cinematographers Stephen F. Windon and Marc Spicer do excellent work with the cinematography in not just giving the many different locations a distinct look in its lighting but also employ elements of heightened lighting for scenes in Abu Dhabi as well as the scenes at night for Los Angeles. Editors Christian Wagner, Dylan Highsmith, Kirk Morri, and Leigh Folsom Boyd do amazing work in the editing where it does rely on fast-cutting techniques but it doesn’t go overboard while managing to establish what is going on while knowing when to slow things down. Production designer Bill Brzeski, with set decorator Danielle Berman and supervising art director Desma Murphy, does fantastic work with the look of the house that Dominic has lived most of his life as well as the workshop that Mr. Nobody plans everything while the rooms inside the Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers has this air of richness. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays does nice work with the costumes as it’s mostly casual with the exception of the scenes in Abu Dhabi where everyone looked sharp including the ladies.
Special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick and visual effects supervisors Mark Curtis, Martin Hill, Kelvin McIlwain, Karen Murphy, and Mike Wassel do brilliant work with some of the special effects in the action sequences as well as some unique visual effects for the O’Conner character thanks in part from the work of stand-ins in Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody. Sound designers Peter Brown, Stephen P. Robinson, and Ann Scibelli, along with sound editor Joe Dzuban, do superb work with the sound in creating the power of the engines as well as the sounds of gunfire and planes. The film’s music by Brian Tyler is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music, electronic, and hip-hop as it plays into the frenetic world of street racing as well as the parties the characters go to as it is bombastic but also has its somber moments.
The casting by Anne McCarthy and Kellie Roy is terrific as it features some notable small roles from Ali Fazal as a friend of Ramsey in Abu Dhabi, John Brotherton as Mr. Nobody’s aide, Luke Evans as the comatose Owen Shaw, Noel Gugliemi as the street-race organizer Hector, Lucas Black as Fast & Furious 3 protagonist Sean Boswell who gives Torreto some belongings of the character Han, Tony Jaa as a henchman friend of Shaw, Miller and Charlie Kimsey as Brian and Mia’s son Jack, and Eden Estrella as Hobbs’ young daughter who provides some funny moments. Other notable small roles include Elsa Pataky in a wonderful role as associate and Hobbs’ new partner Elena Neves who watches over the injured Hobbs while Ronda Rousey is superb as security head for a billionaire in Abu Dhabi who fets into a brawl with Letty. Nathalie Emmanuel is excellent as Ramsey as a computer software designer who is rescued by Torretto and his team as she helps them retrieve the program she designed. Djimon Hounsou is fantastic as Shaw’s friend in mercenary Mose Jakande as a man that wants the God’s Eye software.
Kurt Russell is great as Mr. Nobody as a government agent who fills in for the injured Hobbs as helps Torretto and the gang to try and capture Shaw while Dwayne Johnson is brilliant as Luke Hobbs as a DSS agent who is confronted by Shaw and is nearly killed only to get angry when he returns for its climax. Jordana Brewster is amazing as Mia Torretto as Dom’s sister and Brian’s partner who stays home from the action as she has news for Brian that would force him to make a big decision. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson are hilarious in their respective roles as Tej and Roman as the two comic reliefs with Tej as the tech guy and Roman as the man with the big mouth. Michelle Rodriguez is phenomenal as Letty as Dom’s lover who is trying to recover her memory from the past while helping out the team where she gets herself into a brawl with a mean security head.
Jason Statham is incredible as Deckard Shaw as this former assassin who is a total loose cannon that is extremely pissed off and is not afraid in whoever he meets as he is a true antagonist and possibly the one person that can match everyone toe-to-toe. In one of his final performance, Paul Walker is marvelous as Brian O’Conner as a former cop/agent who is trying to adjust to family life while doing what he can to help Dom while coming to terms that his life of adventure might be coming to an end as it’s a fitting send-off to the actor with the aid of his brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins. Finally, there’s Vin Diesel in a remarkable role as Dominic Torretto as a street racer trying to protect his family from Shaw as he deals with the loss of a few friends and trying to get Letty back on her feet.
Furious 7 is a sensational film from James Wan. Armed with a great cast, thrilling action sequences, and an engaging story. The film isn’t just another high watermark for the franchise but it’s also a film that gives the late Paul Walker a fitting send-off for himself and the Brian O’Conner character. In the end, Furious 7 is a phenomenal film from James Wan.
Fast & Furious Films: (The Fast & the Furious) - (2 Fast 2 Furious) - (The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift) - (Fast & Furious) - (Fast Five) - Fast & Furious 6 - (Fast & Furious 8)
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