FlixChatter Review: Furious 7

Furious7 “I don’t have friends, I got family”

That line by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the patriarch of the ‘Fast & Furious’ family, sums up the familial theme that runs through this franchise. I never would’ve thought that when I was still blissfully ignorant of the series prior to Fast & Furious 6. So far I’ve only seen the 1st, 5th and 6th movie before the latest one, and based on what I heard from those who’ve seen them all, this is one of those rare occasion where the sequels actually improve over the earlier movies. Yes, the franchise pride itself in being a big dumb action flick with preposterous car stunts, but the familial theme separates it from other action movies, and that could very well be the secret of its success.

Furious7_HanFuneralThere’s a direct continuation from this movie to Fast & Furious 6, as the comatose villain’s brother, Deckard Shaw, now seeks revenge against Toretto & his family. The beginning of the film shows them attending a funeral of a former family member that’s hinted at the end of the previous film. Even the villain is avenging a member of the family. I thought that the casting is pretty spot on as not only Jason Statham looks believable as Luke Evans‘ older brother, the fact that he’s famous in another car-centric actioner The Transporter makes his casting even more perfect.

Statham is always effortlessly bad ass and invincible in pretty much everything he’s in, and it’s no different here. He apparently could take out an entire hospital AND all those SWAT team all by himself. So he’s special ops or something, which means in his case he’s got superhuman strength who could withstand blow after blow from someone three times his size! The fight scene between him and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is practically hilarious – as is most of the fight scenes in this franchise – because I just don’t sense any kind of real danger to them.

Furious7_TheRockJasonStathamThe vengeance storyline is mixed with a heist plot to obtain a tracking device named God’s Eye and rescuing a hacker named Ramsey. Just like the Mission Impossible movies, the filmmaker just wants to one-up the previous movie in terms of its preposterous action. The sequence of the cars dropped from a plane down to Caucasus Mountains, followed by an equally ridiculous car/bus chase around the twisty mountain road is what you pay money to see this franchise! Seeing that scene on IMAX is really quite a thrill, it’s as close to being in a real amusement park ride given the immersive experience of seeing the stunts in such a huge screen.

Furious7_CarAirdropStuntman Spiro Razatos is really the unsung hero in this franchise as he’s the man responsible for some of the heart-stopping sequences, such as the bank vault scene in Fast Five. This article offer details as to how he pulls off the airdropD scene, it’s really his magnum opus of stunt work! To contrast the cool mountain scenery, the team then heads to the desert of Abu Dhabi. Of course the *mission* has to be something totally absurd. The owner of the flash drive they’re after placed the thing inside a $3.4 mil supercar that I’ve never even heard of: Lykan Hypersport made in Dubai by the first ever Arab supercar company W Motors.

Furious7_LykanHypersport

Yep, that’s the red car that Dom and Brian (Paul Walker) drove through two skyscrapers you’ve seen in the trailer. Trust me, the scene itself is even crazier than in the trailer! Brian Tyler‘s dynamic score perfectly complements the action scenes.

LykanHypersportNow, I’ve mentioned some of the best action sequences, but there are also some pointless fight scenes that overstay its welcome. One of them that come to mind is the fight between UFC champ Ronda Rousey and Michelle Rodriguez, it’s there simply just to fulfill audience’s expectation of a two bad-ass girls knocking each other out. Some of the fight scenes between Walker and Thai martial artist Tony Jaa also gets boring after a while. Pointless characters also drag the movie down, such as Kurt Russell‘s character and Djimon Hounsou’s who’s been typecast as a useless henchman in practically everything he’s in since his fine turn in Gladiator.

I do have to give props to how the filmmaker handle the tribute to Paul Walker, who’s a key cast member of the franchise. I knew before watching this movie that they weren’t going to kill off his character Brian O’Conner, which I think is a wise move on their part. What they end up doing is genuinely moving and heartfelt that it made me tear up watching it. It’s more of a celebration for the late actor than a somber farewell, incorporating the use of CGI as well as the actor’s own brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins.

Furious7_PaulWalkerOverall the movie is entertaining and fun, which is what one would hope for in a movie like this. The emotional scenes help elevate it a bit, but for the most part, you go see this movie for the ridiculous car stunts. But the ethnic diversity has also become part of the ‘brand’ of the franchise. It’s nice to see actors of pretty much every race represented: Black, Asian, Hispanic, White, and there’s even a Bollywood actor making a cameo this time around. Even the director James Wan is of Malaysian Chinese descent. Wan is new to the franchise, after doing mostly horror films like The Conjuring. I think his direction is ok, though I think I prefer Justin Lin‘s direction in the last two movies a bit more. In any case, the diversity pays off for the franchise, as according to THR, 75% of the audience in North America is non-White and it’s earned $384 mil worldwide in its first weekend, wow!

The movie is quite long though, I think cutting some of those unnecessary action scenes out would reduce the overlong 137-min running time. But it’s still mostly enjoyable to me because it’s more of a heist flick than a street-racing movie.

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Have you seen Furious 7? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + MARCH Viewing Recap

EverybodysChattin

Happy April everyone!!

Let’s start off with some lists and non-review posts

  • Chris is back with his ‘What is’ series, this time he posted about Aspect Ratio
  • Sati posted 11 things she looks forward to in Game of Thrones 5
  • Mike posted about the superb contemporary noir that is Michael Mann’s HEAT, part of his Looking Back 20 Years series
  • The entries to Andrew’s A Fistful of Moments blogathon‘s been popping up a lot this week, I really love Irene‘s and Anna‘s lists, which include two films that’ll surely be on my own list!
  • Speaking of lists, Dan just posted about Top 10 Crazy Movie Doctors

Now on to reviews!

  • Mark reviewed Inherent Vice
  • Stu reviewed Animal Kingdom
  • Cindy reviewed Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 classic Some Came Running
  • Jordan posted his Bite Sized Reviews on Digital Shortbread, including Russell Crowe’s scariest performance as a skinhead in Romper Stomper
  • Steven just reviewed one of 2015 Oscar’s Best Foreign Language nominee Wild Tales
  • Last but not least, Michael just reviewed a space film classic Apollo 13


Before I get to my March recap, I simply have to share this awesome video mash-up…  SUPERMANDREAS. A guy by the name of Nick Acosta decided to re-edit the San Andreas trailer to take out Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and put in Christopher Reeve as Superman in the 1978 film. It’s such a hoot!!


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MarchRecap2015I saw a dozen new-to-me movies this month, quite an improvement over January and February. Minneapolis-StPaul Film Fest (MSPIFF) is coming in mid April so I hope I’ll see more movies this month! Plus the weather’s getting nicer, MUCH nicer than it was around this time last year, so I think I’ll be getting Spring Fever in no time!

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Music Break: 5 Fave Sci-fi Scores About Robot

Music Break: Disney’s Animated Classic Cinderella

St Patrick’s Day Special: 5 Scenes set in Ireland

BLOGATHON:

Thursday Movie Picks #35: Fairy Tale Adaptations

Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from Young Adult Novels

Thursday Movie Picks #37: Mother-Daughter Movies

March Blind Spot Pick:

WINGS (1927)

New-to-me Movies:

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2013)

Cinderella (2015)

Coherence (2013)

Furious 7 (2015)

Lucy (2014)

Royal Deceit (1994)

Shaft (2000)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

The Congress (2013)

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Woman in Gold (2015)

I’m so behind on new releases reviews, I’m more caught up on writing the ones I saw on rental. I have both The Congress and Shaft reviews done in my draft folder, but I’m planning on writing my review of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Woman in Gold this weekend. I enjoyed both though neither is far from perfect, but I think the casting of three of my favorite Dames: Judi Dench & Maggie Smith in Marigold Hotel, and Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold made me like ’em more. Well, I saw Furious 7 on IMAX last night and here’s my initial reaction:

Rewatches:

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Mansfield Park 

BBC’s North & South (2004)

BBC’s Jane Eyre (2006)

Movies of the Month

MarchMoviesOftheMonthI can’t pick between these two, so it’s a tie! I’ve been lucky in picking my Blindspot films as Wings is yet another classic that lives up to the hype… and then some. As for Cinderella, well what can I say? I enjoyed it and it’s definitely a movie I’d add to my collection once the Blu-ray is released.


Hope you enjoyed today’s post… stay tuned for our list of ‘Perfect Cinematic Moments’ sometime tomorrow!