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Furious Seven (2015)

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Score: 3/10

Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 17 min.

Release Date: April 3rd, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: James Wan Actors: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky

A

t some point during the series of “The Fast and the Furious” films, gravity, physics, and mortality stopped being acknowledged. In this seventh tale of wild vehicular escapism, these concepts are completely nonexistent; but the tragedy is not the death of realism, as the franchise rarely abided by such limitations. The true shame is that, despite zero constraints on the magnitude of potential action sequences (surely the budget can accommodate just about anything), few of the extravagant set pieces actually contain anything conceptually new. More cars, more scantily clad women, and more explosions will probably equal more box office dollars, but it’s terrifying to think that that an increase in bullets, babes, and bombs is all that interests the target audience – and that an intensification of those factors negates the need for even moderate creativity.

When vengeful madman Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) attempts to murder Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), and his best friend Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), the former street racer will stop at nothing to eliminate the threat to his family. But catching the elusive assassin proves difficult without the aid of advanced weaponry and technology, prompting Dominic to accept an offer from shadowy secret agent “Mr. Nobody” (Kurt Russell).  In exchange for retrieving the “God’s Eye,” a highly adaptive tracking program, Dominic will be allowed to use the device to pinpoint Shaw’s exact location. Gathering together his regular crew, including hacker Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), wild card Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and his amnesic wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the embattled driver embarks on a succession of perilous, globe-spanning missions that will test the limits of his entire team.

Or, debatably, they won’t test any measurable limits. To justify a seventh feature, something new has to be brought to the table. Unfortunately, “Furious Seven” (not to be confused in any way with a project of the caliber to rip off “Seven Samurai” or its Western counterpart “The Magnificent Seven”) can’t present any sequences that haven’t been seen before in this very series. It also borrows heavily from “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Mission: Impossible,” and the adventures of James Bond (and, embarrassingly, “Sex and the City 2,” with its attention to fashion, lavish parties, excessive wealth, romance, and Abu Dhabi), but this isn’t the first time these properties have been tapped for inspiration. Feeling more and more like “The Expendables,” “The A-Team,” or “G.I. Joe,” the filmmakers have apparently completely exhausted themselves of all ingenuity – and the down-to-earth yet high-stakes premise of Los Angeles street races.

“I can’t believe we pulled that off.” Although the sustained level of utter nonsense and gravity-defying stunts quickly become dull, the fantastical action scenes are never really the problem. Instead, it’s the overbearing sense of imperviousness to injury or death, the total emotional detachment from the characters, and the tragically bland dependence on nameless governmental agencies (providing unlimited funds and tech and weapons and rides) to propel the story that drag the project down. The repetitiveness in action choreography and heist plots is boring, but the dialogue is simply excruciating, topping even the disregard for originality. Every delivery is an idiom, a turn of phrase, or a tough-guy taunt. There’s no human communication – merely Schwarzenegger-like showdown retorts.

Nevertheless, amusement can be found in the overdone stupidity of it all. Laughable moments abound, made more hysterical by the lengths the creators go to outdo the property destruction, explosions, and shootouts from previous episodes. While it starts off resembling a music video by Michael Bay (with hyperactive camerawork, jarring cuts, and semi-nude, jiggling female bodies) before turning into a sappy cast reunion, the use of Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, and Ronda Rousey as villains helps boost the intrigue. Sadly, the film is packed with far too many characters to give any of them adequate screentime or proper character development. And, ludicrously, Mia insists that Brian return to his family after this final mission, even though she’s accommodated one last return to the world of crime and danger for several previous films in a row. In the end, “Furious Seven” is little more than porn for car enthusiasts.

– The Massie Twins

 



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