Saturday, April 4, 2015

Furious 7 (2015)

"I used to say I live my life a quarter mile at a time and I think that's why we were brothers- because you did, too. No matter where you are, whether it's a quarter mile away or half way across the world. The most important thing in life, will always be the people in this room. Salute mi familia. You'll always be with me... And you'll always be my brother."

That is the final line spoken in the movie, it also stands as the theme for the entire franchise. These movies on the top are about cars and action, but the stories are always about family and standing by them. This one is no different.

The story picks up after the last film with the previous villain Shaw in the hospital. We are introduced to his big brother Deckard who is played by Jason Statham. Statham vows revenge for his brother, for his family. We are then taken to Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) who are driving through the dessert. Letty still has not regained her memory and we are treated to our first glimpse of a re-occuring theme in the movie. Vin is taking Rodriguez to "Race Wars." A event featured heavily in the first film, and we even get to see some familiar faces there. This movie actually revisits the previous films quite a bit. 

The opening to the movie is kind of slow, but it is entertaining. We get the Rock facing off against Statham as he tries to steal the info on the team who attacked his brother. But then there is a prolonged time where we are mostly just given the story information. If you saw the third movie, you know it ended with one of Vin's crew Han being killed. In the 6th movie we found out Statham is the one who killed him, but we also know that has not actually occurred yet. We do not see him kill Han in this film, but we see him call Vin as soon as he has. This is the main catalyst for the rest of the movie. Statham has killed one of Vin's family for what he did to his brother. He lets him know he will hunt down the rest of them until they have all paid. Shortly after we are introduced to Kurt Russell's character, Mr. Nobody. He is government, and no we never find out his name. He gives Vin and his team jobs to complete in order to get the info they need to find Statham. From here the movie goes into full on action mode, and does not until the very end. 

The story was nothing spectacular, but it did a good job of setting up how everything played out. It added emotion by focusing on the human aspect of the characters. Family is a strong thing, and it being the main driving force behind both sides added a lot. While i would never say the story was award winning, for this kind of movie it was more then enough. It referenced the previous films, and tied them all together nicely. There really was not much else to ask for. We even got to revisit Tokyo and find out who won that race at the end of Fast 3. It was funny however, when Shad "Bow Wow" Moss and Lucas Black came on screen, there was a audible groaning from the audience in my theater. Tokyo Drift is not overly well liked, but the two leads from that movie had a reason to be in this one. Elsa Pataky who you may remember from Fast 6 as Elena also reprises her role in this film. She is working along side Hobbs (The Rock) and even gets a scene with Vin that comes off rather awkward given their characters history. I greatly enjoyed these inclusions. 

Acting usually is not a huge deal with action flicks. You can forgive some over acting, you can look past some poor performances, as long as the adrenaline gets going when it matters. Thankfully everybody here can act, and yes that includes Mr Walker regardless of what my wife says. Kurt Russell is a stand out, and he plays the his role very well. He is a funny bad-ass us agent. And while he is showing his age, he still is very much a action star. He oozes charisma, and takes over a lot of the scenes he is in. Luda and Gibson play the comedy roles, and I love them for it. Both have transitioned well into the profession. They both had me on the verge of tears from laughing at one point. But Both can pull it back and do a serious moment if needed. We also finally get to see Luda fight, which was a treat. Vin and Walker were both solid, you know what you are getting with them. The Rock is the same, good actor that drops the one liners. Statham was a good addition, I had not seen him in the past few years. He was a great villain, and seeing him show up at the worst possible time over and over again never got old. His accent and voice mixed with his personality create some great scenes. He just sounds like somebody you don't want to mess with. Then you see him fight, the guy is just plain scary. 

The action is the main draw here, you really can't claim anything else. And if you have seen all the movies, you know they direction and even genre of the films has changed in the last few. If you liked 5 and 6, you will like 7. 5 was more of a heist film, while 6 was all action. 7 is pretty much a combination of those two. We get Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) planning how to rob a armored convoy. We get cars vs helicopters. Cars vs Drones. The Rock vs.....well I guess all of the above. You have great hand to hand fights with awesome choreography. If all you want is to zone out and watch a great popcorn flick, this will fill that void greatly. Every action sequence, and there were a lot of them, was just fantastic from start to finish. The final scene was especially tense as you really didn't see how everybody was going to make it through. If you have kept up with the trailers, you know Ronda Rousey even throws down in this one. She does have a few lines, and honestly they should have avoided that. Her real MMA career seemed to shine through in her fight scene, but the 2 lines she had before it just fell flat. Walker also had a very cool sequence with Tony Jaa (from the movie Ong-Bak) that was easily one of the more memorable moments of the movie. The only real draw back was the camera work. It was superb in almost every way, but 3 or 4 times in the movie it did something I can't stand. It would roll the camera to mimic the movements of a actor. Jason Statham gets thrown once and rolls out of it, so the camera rolls with him. The Rock slams a guy through a table, so the camera turns on its side and follows that movement. It is just disjointing to see. Each time it did it, it just pulled me out of what was going on. It didn't ruin the scene, but it did detract from it. 

With Walkers passing, this movie was very important to a lot of people. Vin's tribute at the end left me with tears in my eyes, but the entire movie was pretty much a tribute to the man from everybody who worked on it. The movie was not finished when Walker passed, so they brought in his brothers and used cgi to impose his face onto their bodies. There are a few scenes using this technology, but only really one moment where it is very apparent. They do a good job of not showing his face, not showing him close up, or just making him out of focus. It was good to see this finished, and if read any of the interviews with the cast, you know how much this meant to them. 

While I have not talked about Walkers character Brian much in this, to me he was very much the main character in the franchise. The story was always about him, even if the later movies seemed to be more from Dom's perspective. This movie ended with him being written out of it, so if they do decide to continue on he would not be a factor. This makes sense given what happened, but to me it also means the end of the franchise. Walker was the heart and soul of these films. Dom is always fighting for his family, but Brian is the one who he ends up fighting for in the end. Brian is the one who has the kid and wife, and even this film is about Dom trying to protect that above all else. It makes for a sad overtone throughout, assuming you are a Paul Walker fan. It also make for a bittersweet film. This is the end of his career, and his story within this franchise. And while that is sad, he couldn't have asked for a better way to go out. Plenty of people will tell you these are not great movies, but they were not made for them. The first film was made for people who liked cars, cheesy dialogue, and some solid action. If you know anything about Paul Walker, you know he was that kind of guy. 

The movie has a nice ending, it feels like the end of something big. It doesn't seem to leave any real loose ends, though it does leave it open for a spin off with Dom and Hobbs (Vin and Rock) if they decided to go that way. We get a look back at the entire franchise as Dom remembers his time with his sister and Brian. And we get a touching farewell before the credits roll. It was such a different tone from the comedy and action that came before it. But it was beautiful, and it was what the series needed to go out on. 

That 4 is kind of a compromise. To me it was easily a 5, I doubt I will enjoy even Avengers 2 as much as I did this film. But it was also a special one to me. Fast and the Furious has been one of my favorite franchises for years. Consider that 4 the score for a average movie goer just looking for a good action flick. If you are a fan of the series, you will love this one. 

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go find some tuna fish. I am feeling sad and nostalgic again. 

If you have a Xbox one or 360, you may be interested in checking out Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast and Furious. It is free until april 10th, and is a 3 hour racing game featuring the cars from the latest movie. This includes Toretto's Charger from the first film, Brian's GTR, Letty's Challenger, Tej's jeep, and Dom's sexy Roadrunner,  as well as a few more. It does not have a story related to the movies, but more just lets you race and play around in horizon using said cars. The only person from the movie to lend there voice is Luda, and you never actually see him. If you like cars, it is a great pick up. And if it is after the 10th, the 10$ they are asking for it is more then fair. I will drop a trailer for it below the movie one along with the link to the game. 

Forza Horizon Presents Fast and the Furious