The movie everyone is talking about this weekend is the seventh in the Fast and the Furious series, and as I’ve enjoyed the movies ever since the first one fourteen years ago I figured I’d post my thoughts of the latest installment.
Everyone knows the story of how following Paul Walker’s death they went back and re-wrote a lot of the movie and filmed new scenes using his brothers as body doubles with some impressive CG work to give Brian a fitting send-off in the series. And I think they did succeed in that, but the question is does the movie live up to the highs people expect following the awesome fifth and sixth movies. And I think for the most part they did, although without the sixth movie this one would suffer on its own. It’s really a continuation of that one.
I always hear people say they feel the fifth movie is the best, but I really liked six a lot more. That tank sequence was just unbelievable, and the ending to six put it above five in my opinion. Going into Furious 7 I wasn’t sure how they could top that tank, and with a couple sequences here they did.
There’s the chase in the mountains involving a bus that has some nice call-backs all the way to the first movie, and the pace and action here is relentless. As long as you can check your disbelief of Paul Walker being able to stand toe-to-toe with Tony Jaa in a martial arts fight, it’s a pretty awesome sequence. Then there’s the bit with the Lykan Hypersport. The things they do to that $3.4 million supercar show that Fast and the Furious is the US Top Gear we’ve always deserved.
Hobbs is barely in the movie, but when he shows up he steals the show. When The Rock was entering Hollywood there was a lot of talk of him picking up the Schwarzenegger torch as the big action star and seeing him in movies like the Fast and the Furious series I think he really has done that. He wields that mini-gun as good as Arnold did in T2.
Of course the big distraction in the movie is how they’ll retire Paul Walker from the series and how they finished his scenes. Unlike some CG replacements done in the past (such as the hilariously bad one in The Sopranos), it’s very hard to spot the Walker CG head on his brothers. For example here’s one shot where they used the CG Paul Walker, and when you see it in motion it’s really convincing:
You really need to know what to look for to see it, and even then it’s usually very well done. Rumor is WETA handled the work, and they did a phenomenal job. Most of the time when you hear Brian talking but don’t see him on-screen or he’s just reacting to someone talking to him, you can tell it was a scene created without him. There’s only a couple times in the movie where this is noticeable, once in the middle and the final scene on the beach.
Although it’s an unspoken retirement, the movie does an excellent job sending Paul Walker’s character off. The final scene on the beach, and one last drive between Dom and Brian is perhaps the most perfect way to do it and it puts the ending to this movie up there with six’s.
The franchise will go on, and we know Kurt Russell’s character is meant to show up in the next installment that’s going to be set in New York. I hope they keep making Fast and the Furious movies forever. They’re a lot of fun, and Furious 7 continues that tradition.