In my review for ‘Fast and Furious 6’ I had a lot to say about what this franchise stands for. Almost two years later, a lot has changed, most notably the death of Paul Walker. Enough has been said already on his death and its impact on the film’s production so I won’t go into too much detail here, only to note that the filmmakers have crafted a fitting sendoff and tribute to Walker with ‘Furious 7’ that is genuinely moving and heartfelt. In this aspect (the handling of Walker’s death) the film shines most but unfortunately elsewhere it doesn’t quite live up to expectation.
The plot of the film is a tale of vengeance on both sides. Villain, Deckard Shaw, is out to get revenge on Dom and his family for killing/hospitalising his younger brother, Owen, the antagonist of the previous instalment. Meanwhile Dom wants revenge on Deckard for killing Han, who was murdered in the post-credits scene of ‘Fast 6’. It’s unclear whether the film wants to condone revenge or condemn it but then ‘Furious 7’ isn’t trying to teach anyone any lessons, other than perhaps the series’ core theme of the importance of family.
It is the definition of mindless, dumb fun as we have come to expect from the franchise, though it does come close to jumping the shark in more than one action scene, a few of which contain traces of camp. The action scenes aren’t something to be criticised, however; they’re exactly what they’re supposed to be, but the story is surprisingly lacklustre. It can’t be too engaging when half of the film consists of a wild goose chase for an elusive hard drive containing GPS tracking data.
The characters are mainly all several films in by now so they’re likeable by default but it’s Jason Statham’s Shaw that is the biggest letdown. Statham is intimidating but he is more one dimensional than a chalk drawing. Not interesting at all.
Finally, the primary concern with movies like this and the ‘Transformers’ franchise raking in billions of dollars worldwide is their TERRIBLE portrayal of women. I can’t imagine a director who’d say, ‘now I want a panning shot of her feet, slowly moving up to focus on her hips, breasts, lips, etcetera’ and not realise how much of a sexist, objectifying d**k he’s being. And it happens all the time in these blockbusters! (Personal aside: this one shot was my 15-year-old brother’s favourite part of the entire film. This is the problem, people!) For this reason alone, ‘Furious 7’ disappoints greatly. Mindless fun is excusable in a franchise like this and ‘Furious 7’ does it better than anything else, it doesn’t have to be art. But turning female characters into nothing more than shiny objects to be looked at, basically treated like the cars, is inexcusable.
‘Furious 7’ may be a minor offender compared to others but it’s a trend that has to stop.
READ: Daniel’s Review