At The Movies: Furious 7

The movie franchise that refuses to pull over to the side of the road is back to wreck more havoc on the highways while always preaching the importance of family.

“Furious 7” is the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” series that first took to the streets and multiplexes in 2001. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and the rest of the crew (nay, family) — Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) — have cleared their names and moved back home to live a life away from high-speed capers.

Or so they thought. Enter Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), an English one-man-killing-machine who wants revenge on Dominic’s crew for the death of his brother in an earlier installment.

Furious-7In order to catch Deckhard, Dominic must join forces with government spy-chief Frank Petty (Kurt Russell). Petty claims the only way to corner an elusive guy like Deckhard is to use a fancy piece of technology called the God’s Eye. Getting the Eye is going to require the same insanely over-the-top car stunts you expect from a “Fast and Furious” movie. Only with triple the insanity.

The “Fast and Furious” franchise is the rare model that didn’t stall out after three installments and actually continues to get better with age. Many of the stunts are unbelievable. Few action flicks deliver the action like “Furious 7.” And fewer deliver as many big stunts within one film as this one.

Bringing in fresh faces also helps keep the series alive. Dwayne Johnson, who signed up two films ago, is still an entertaining presence even if he gets limited screen time here. Jason Statham, an action hero in his own right, makes a delightfully savvy and unstoppable villain. I like Statham so much it was hard to root against him. And who doesn’t love Kurt Russell?

Of course the whole production is tinged with melancholy knowing that Paul Walker died while the film was being made. Director James Wan managed to overcome that obstacle very well and the movie ends with a touching farewell to a key cast member.

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