Having screened this film THREE times since it’s opening, it’s not lost upon me that I finally see my way clear to review it objectively – on the very same opening weekend another massive blockbuster is set to take Furious 7’s BILLION $ crown (which I correctly predicted it would).
Having seen this film opening night and a few more times since then, you may ask WHY has it taken me so long to review a film I absolutely LOVE? Because with every earlier screening, I simply bawled like a 14-year-old being dumped by her boyfriend a few weeks before prom.
This film is such beautifully moving and fitting tribute to the late, great Paul Walker. My generation; we grew UP with The Fast and The Furious series.
The characters are legitimately people who so many of could relate too and empathise with in such a profound way. I didn’t feel as though I could be objective enough to pick this film apart and speak about what works, and of course what does not.
So without further ado, here’s to you Paul. I’m along with you for one last ride. See you at the finish line!
Furious 7 literally opens up with a BANG, or maybe I should say SEVERAL bangs. Of course, with this series is there really any other way for it to open?
And while the bangs are expected what’s really brilliantly done is the immediate yet VERY strong connection that has been established between Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Gisele (played by Gail Gadot). There is a chemistry there that is just slightly overly inappropriate in a GOOD way if you will.
Of course, almost instantaneously we also meet Deckerd Shaw (Jason Statham who is so good at being a villain, it’s well, SCARY). Shaw’s bang of an entrance serves basically to set the tone for this film. There are NO moments for mercy, and there’s absolutely NO turning back.
Now if you have seen the entire series (except Tokyo Drift, which I actually liked) you know that Dom and Letty are linked in love for life. There are so many warm moments throughout this film between the two of them, and then we find out that the issues that failed miserably in their attempts to break them apart are still driving a prominent wedge into their relationship.
They’re literally trying to get re-acquainted with each other, with Letty’s still severe bout with amnesia. Vin Diesel does an extraordinary job of conveying the strength he’s had to use in order to weather this storm and be with Letty until the end, whatever that end may be.
Your heart has moments where it’s genuinely heavy because you can see him wanting Letty to be HIS Letty, and yet your heart is even heavier when you watch his heart visibly breaking when Letty’s eyes don’t reflect back at him in the way he desperately wants them to. As these two have aged through the series, you genuinely are pulling for them. Their chemistry and connected energy are matched by very few onscreen couples.
Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is trying desperately to settle down into married with kids life with Mia (Jordanna Brewster) and baby Jack, and he finds himself longing for certain parts of his past, all while clearly having eyes on the future.
It amazes me how Paul and Jordanna have forged such a strong bond that there really isn’t much effort needed to sell their bond as husband and wife on their way to a house with a white picket fence, football Mums, carpools, and 2.5 kids. Many people would consider that a happy life, a life without any unfulfilled wants or desires and yet…Bullets.
The battle between Dom and Shaw is one of such epic proportions that it spills over into other scenes. Depending on whom you ask, this can be a positive or a negative. I actually find it a positive because anything that gives me more access to seeing more of Jason Statham and Vin Diesel is a TRUE GIFT! :-))
Another really solid theme that carries well in F7 is the transformation and growth of Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges) and Roaman (Tyrese Gibson).
Tej is not the same ole man geek. He’s still brilliant as ever but there is a new side that can only be described as osmosis of Alpha male-ism from hanging around Dom and Brian so much. Lol!
But you also see that the things that they’ve experienced and the people they’ve lost have rendered a great deal to shaping and encouraging Tej’s growth. There’s a humanity there that has always been just below the surface that we finally get to see in full bloom and it’s a true pleasure to watch.
Character growth through a series is ESSENTIAL and when screenwriters or show runners don’t know how to portray that on screen, we’re left with the dreaded hideous mess. That absolutely isn’t the case here at all and I’m overjoyed because of it. Roaman on the other hand, well there’s growth, but ultimately, Roaman is still Roaman and in this film, that’s ESSENTIAL and absolutely a blast to see!
One of the Achilles heels of the FF series has been that the writing hasn’t been strong enough to make the Alpha male that is Vin Diesel disappear into the screenplay. In my opinion, FINALLY we are carried through the film in Dom’s world because there is ACTUAL growth – actual movement; actual fluidity in motion.
Finally, the character traits that make Vin Diesel the only man whom could ever play Dom, are strong enough to remind us exactly WHY no other actor could ever play Dom. I think Vin Diesel’s BTS interview where he talks about the importance of them putting everything they had into this film (while Walker was still alive of course) so that if indeed it was the last film in the series, that it would be the best ever. Mission Accomplished!
Now, for the part I dread (or should):
Literally the only issue I could find with this film is there simply isn’t enough Dwayne Johnson in it. Why? Because he’s the Calvary, and we’ll always need more Calvary in our lives. He has a certain charisma to him as Hobbs that we don’t get to enjoy as much of, as we really should. Oh pooh! Have to figure out how to rectify this situation. :-))
The key reason that I was adamant about being able to review this film objectively was because I wanted to be able to step away and respect it for what it is and possibly rib it a bit for what it isn’t.
What it IS, is FOR PAUL, and that’s bloody brilliant enough for me. RIP Paul, we’ve grown up with you and this franchise, and trying to imagine it continuing without you in it just isn’t in my capabilities right now. Maybe later, maybe not. FOR PAUL.
Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
Joyll is our Resident Movie Reviewer. Look for more movie reviews from Joyll!
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Copyright ©2015 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, The Swirl World Inspiration Daily™, Swirl Nation™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Gallery photo from the movie “Furious 7” obtained from Furious7.com. All rights reserved.