April 14, 2015

Furious 7 (2015)

Everyone. Even Lucas Black.


I know there are people who are die hards about this series, but I think most of us can agree that while they are entertaining, they are also mostly vacant and somewhat ridiculous. I mean, how do you differentiate each movie from the next when they all center around driving fast and half naked girls? (Come to think of it, the rap music industry seems to be doing just fine with having every single video almost identical to the last.) So after six movies, this movie had to ratchet up the stakes and come up with new ways to incorporate cars into a brainless action plot.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in douchebag hell (aka a movie theater full of what looked to be drunk, obnoxious, male techies), and the audience thought it was appropriate to laugh and cheer loudly every single time one of these absurd car stunts occurred. Also necessary for them? To clap every time Paul Walker appeared on screen, with someone behind me shouting "Paul Walker!!" Do you know how many times Paul Walker appears on screen in a movie IN WHICH HE IS THE STAR?!? (The answer: long enough for me to contemplate the different ways I could assault the shouter after the credits rolled.)

But even without insufferable people who clearly shouldn't see a movie like this if they expect a cinematic masterpiece, it was pretty clear this movie was somewhat ridiculous. If you're wondering how ridiculous, The Rock breaking a cast off his body by simply flexing his muscles is one of the more believable parts. But again, no one watches these movies for the plot.

Apparently, no one watches them for the acting either. While Toretto is clearly Vin Diesel's career-defining role, others don't fare as well here. Michelle Rodriguez, who is normally a welcome splash of feminism in a series dominated by testosterone and gold lamé bikini bottoms, is stuck playing a soft, vulnerable amnesiac for much of the movie. (Amnesia: the stuff of great movies. And soap operas.) While I might appreciate the attempt to make her a more three dimensional character, it doesn't quite make sense why the writers would suddenly, seven movies in, try to create realistic people. Also, while Michelle Rodriguez can do a number of things (like look tough and, um, I'm sure there's something else...), acting sensitive is not one of them. I almost wanted to call in her character from Blue Crush to give her one of those tough love pep talks.

Jason Statham, however, was the biggest disappointment. Not only is he British (which already gives him a leg up by having an accent that automatically makes him sound cooler), but he's actually been in other movies. You know, movies that people don't call a "guilty pleasure" (Here's looking at you, xXx). But it seems Jason Statham can only play the reluctant hero. You know, the guy he plays in all the Transporter movies. And Crank. And pretty much every other movie he's in. He excels at being a gruff but ultimately lovable good guy. That's doesn't translate well into being a dislikable assassin. Maybe it was the writer's fault, but Statham was almost laughable as a one-track minded killer.

[Fun side note: In all the scenes between Statham and Vin Diesel, I amused myself by imagining Vin Diesel standing on a box of some sort to make it look like he was the bigger, stronger guy (à la Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence), but IMDB claims Vin Diesel is 5'11 1/2" to Statham's 5'10". So not only are both those heights more inflated than an NBA program guide, it seems I can stop lusting over Jason Statham seeing as he could probably fit into my pocket.]

Also, I don't know how I never noticed before, but Rodriguez's giant veneers were so distracting during the movie all I could think about was getting out of the movie and Googling before and after photos of her teeth. Don't get me wrong--I appreciate a perfect set of teeth. But they should at least seem like they could reasonably be your real teeth. She looked like she had a retainer in her mouth. Jordana Brewster's apparent veneers were also too large and distracting, but considering she's long been relegated to some boring housewife role, you really only see her with Paul Walker, who, if you remember, received all the attention and cheers of the audience. You can't compete with a ghost.

I choose to believe this movie ultimately failed because Han and Gisele weren't in it. I just don't know how you can kill off the two best side characters, but still have Lucas Black make an appearance. And the sequencing of this series really leaves something to be desired. It should not be a requirement that people watch every single one to know what the hell is going on and who died when. It's a friggin' action movie, man. Where cars go skydiving.

Final word: The worst of the franchise so far. Possibly even worse than Tokyo Drift.

Related: Fast & Furious 6, A Good Day to Die Hard

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