‘Furious Seven’ follows a fast, familiar road

By Bob Bloom

Fasten your seat belts. Dom and his family are back in “Furious Seven,” which could be subtitled “The Speedy and the Serious.”
The action is as spectacular and explosive as in previous outings, but it seems the movie lacks that spark of fun that infused the earlier efforts.
Furious 7Possibly this is because of the tragic death of co-star Paul Walker during the middle of shooting. Because of that, the film has a pall of sadness that hangs over it as thickly as a London fog.
The movie is a direct follow-up to “Fast and Furious 6,” in which Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Walker) and the rest of the crew helped Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs take down a criminal group headed by Shaw (Luke Evans).
In “Seven,” Shaw’s brother, Deckard (Jason Statham) is out to even the score.
Deckard Shaw is a disavowed black ops specialist, but when it comes to eliminating Dom and his friends, he surprisingly comes up short. Time after time, he has them in his sights or at a disadvantage, yet fails to take the upper hand.
This plot device is one of the film’s major flaws.
But, the stunts and car action are the backbone of this franchise, and the filmmakers, led by director James Wan, deliver the goods.
Sure, we’ve seen some of the auto antics before. It’s still fun to watch vehicles fly out of planes or drive down cliffs or soar from skyscraper to skyscraper, defying the law of physics.
It’s all fantasy that would earn you a phone call from your insurance agent canceling your policy in a second.
With all the vehicles destroyed, not only in this film but in the entire series, it is understandable why a normal person’s insurance rates continue to rise.
“Furious Seven” does not deviate from the franchise’s formula. Diesel’s Dom, for example, continually utters such catchphrases as, “I don’t have friends, I have family.”
The word “family” is bandied about almost as much as in a “Godfather” movie.
Diesel is his usual laconic self, using the least amount of verbiage possible and letting his driving do his talking.
This series has shifted in the past few films from road racing to unofficial secret-agent status — sort of a James Bond outing with muscle cars.
Sure the narrative is shaky, and most of what passes for a plot defies logic.
Yet, what you can’t deny is the intense adrenaline rush the film provides. True, it’s cartoonish and blatantly unrealistic.
The hand-to-hand scrapes would land the rest of us in the hospital for six months, but these guys are like human Energizer bunnies: They take a licking, but keep on ticking — and driving and cracking wise.
“Furious Seven” is not the best movie in the series. It is a fine farewell tribute to Walker and a dizzying popcorn feature.
You just need to sit back, buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at Reel Bob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
2 ½ Stars out of 4
(PG-13), intense action violence, language

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