Furious 7 (2015) Revisit

So this is the one with the parachuting cars and the cars that fly from one building to another. Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and Colorado serving as a stand in for the Caucasus Mountains are the setting, until the conclusion where Los Angeles gets the treatment that London got in the previous film. This is one that I actually saw when it was released in 2015

In addition to the convoluted spy plot, the pyrotechnics and the physics defying car stunts, we get evil Jason Statham, as a mass killing machine who is as implacable as the Terminator, and slippery Kurt Russell, as a government agent so secretive, we don’t even know his name. The team of Torretto and company have gone full blown spycraft now, and the macguffin technology and secondary villain are almost forgotten in light of all the crazy stunts, chases, and unfortunately, the cinematic illusion of making Paul Walker look like he was there for the whole time. This is the one they were filming when he died in a mysterious high speed crash in Santa Clarita. 

The main difference in this film is that there is only one car race that is planned as a race rather than a chase. Usually, the team would have to strap up their cars to go out and obtain cars for the heist they are planning. Here the joke is that they have enough money of their own, and the resources of the U.S. government, to get all the tech they need without having to steal it or win it. There is a time glitch in the story also, this film seems to take place right after “Tokyo Drift”, so that film chronologically must come after Fast 5 and Furious 6. 

There is an early showdown with Statham’s Deckard Shaw, which end up taking Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs out of the plot for 80 % of the movie. That first fight is all hand to hand combat and the two have an amazing choregraphed fight scene, that if it were real, would leave any of us mere mortals dead. Of course these two are not mere mortals, and they are in a movie, and there will be another showdown. The second massive fight sequence gives Statham a chance to rough up Vin Diesel before having a concrete garage dumped on him. Of course he will survive for the next film, and the sp[in-off that is coming. Michelle Rodriguez gets to face another woman MMA champion, Rhonda Rousey, in a cool fight in a luxury building in Abu Dhabi. That one is also full of punishing hits that would wipe most human out of furter action, at least for the duration of the film.

Djimon Hounsou  is a secondary bad guy named Mose Jakande: A Nigerian-born mercenary and terrorist who leads a private military company that allies with Shaw, He does not get much to do except scream from a helicopter and shout orders. Maybe it’s in his contact that he doesn’t have to go fisticuffs with a behemoth twice his size. 

The parachuting cars come early in the movie, and once that scene happens, nothing else can be taken seriously. People complain about the 007 film “Die Another Day”, but they can accept this silly element. That’s probably because the “Fast and Furious” films have never felt particularly real, and we began accepting the more outlandish elements way too soon in the story line. Just pass the popcorn, and let’s not ptretend these are great movies, they are just great entertainment.  

Furious Six [AKA Fast and Furious 6] 2013

While the movie can’t quite decide what it’s title is, that fits because it also can’t decide on what sort of film it is. Is it a heist film, a spy film a racing film, who knows? Maybe since it has all of those elements we should not be too worried about classifying it, and more worried about the whiplash we get as we move from one action sequence to another. Maybe the transitions are supposed to be made easier by the brutal fight scenes that break out around them. 

Logic aside, Furious 6 has some great things going for it. The return of Dwayne Johnson gives the extended plotline a little more coherence. Johnson drips charisma and he gives Vin Diesel someone to act against who disappears into the scenery. This time he is accompanied by another DSS agent, in the form of Gina Carano, another actor with charisma to match the counterparts on Dom’s team. Carano’s character, Agent Riley,  engages in an extended fight with Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty in the London Underground. These characters are as brutal as any man would be in a similar fight, and I suppose the justification for this is so Letty can have some combat scenes and not have to be pounded on by one of her male co-stars. The resolution of Riley’s storyline is disappointing because she could have been a compelling recurring character. I guess they have enough of those already, so adding to the reoccurring cast was undesirable. 

Location shooting in London looks great, and as a Bond fan, I always appreciate when Great Britan is featured at the center of a spy story. The villain of this episode is Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans, and his character is basically Bond gone bad. As if Dr. No persuaded double o seven to join SPECTRE and commit international terrorism on a scale only dwarfed by the events of 9/11. Most of London gets bruised in the early section of the film, and then Spain gets the destruction of hundreds of cars with passengers in them for a chase scene involving a tank. I’ve read that the tank crushing of the cars was real and not just a CGI animation. I can believe it because the weight and mass of a tank in comparison to some European sedan would be massive. There was an incident several years ago where a deranged Army Vet stole a tank and decimated a neighborhood in San Diego. You can see in the news footage that a tank can in fact run over a car with impunity. Where the scene gets it wring is in the use of a couple of cars to try and anchor the tank so it will flip. It is also a big stretch to see Dom, flying through the air to catch Letty and then landing safely on the road. 

A good suspenseful climax that gets drawn out by a series of complications is always welcome, but it needs to be somewhat grounded. The plane/car chase here is just not acceptable for suspense purposes, but it is fine for spectacular action. Cars getting on and off a plane, a harpoon gun taking down the whale of a cargo jet, and an extended fight sequence in the belly of the plane are all fun but at no point do you think this is going to come out wrong for our heroes. Even the apparent death of one of the female crew is nearly dreamlike, we never see the outcome, just a moment of vanishing, but into the dark and we are not sure how far of a fall is there. Characters in this series get revived from the dead all the time, so i would not “Wonder” if a certain actress were to return in a future film. 

The best payoff in this movie is the thirty seconds of Jason Statham, glaring at the camera and scowling as he makes a threatening phone call that will set up the action in the next film. I think the best way for me to keep track of these movies which are all fun but forgettable, is to check the location and stunt moments. Furious 6: London Car Flipping, Spanish Tank Chase, NATO base with the longest runway in the world and a car plane chase. There, that should help you remember more than Letty does for most of this film.