Let me start by explaining what I wanted to do with this review, and then I will explain what is actually happening. I have seen Furious 7 twice without seeing any of the other Fast & Furious films. What I planned to do for this retrospective, which is in preparation for the new movie The Fate of the Furious, was to go back and watch every Fast & Furious film and review them.
Instead, I watched the first two and then decided to watch this again. Drunk on micro-brew beer and Mexican food. Because that is clearly the most reasonable state to watch a Fast & Furious film in. The only thing closer to right would be for me to be drinking strictly Corona.
As a result, I am reviewing Furious 7 without a whole lot of knowledge of the franchise. And I am also watching it drunk, so, you know, f*** it.
Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is the brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). And he is out for revenge. Why? Because cars…and stuff. He’s Jason Statham; you really don’t need to be asking many questions. Get off my back. He’s the villain, that’s all you need to know.
Brian (Paul Walker) is now a family man, married to Jordana Brewster’s Mia with a kid. Relegated to a mini van, he feels out of place in a world that travels slower than 90 mph.
Then there’s Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the latter part of this duo being, in soap opera fashion, brain wiped by head trauma. Total amnesia. She doesn’t even remember Hector. Poor Hector, we hardly knew you.
She also doesn’t remember Iggy Azalea. But, to be honest, I don’t think anyone remembers her being part of Race Wars (an unfortunate title for a racing event that the Fast & Furious franchise has boldly doubled down on).
The best part about Furious 7 is that literally everything I have said up to this point is meaningless. You can disregard all of this and still enjoy the film. And I haven’t even mentioned Han or Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) or any of the other supporting characters that are involved. Hell, you can disregard every plot point in this film and still enjoy it on a base level.
The dialogue of the film is heavily laden in melodrama worthy of Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. Yet it is a billion-dollar movie. The creative team behind these films have made it possible to make a film in which no line of dialogue means anything and every scene is still endlessly entertaining. Is Furious 7 a perfect film? Only time will tell.
This film is great (Note: 6 beers in). Diesel’s mush-mouth delivery makes every line a punchline. The act of vengeance is turned into a intramural sport involving head-on collisions (resulting in no scratches) and concrete stomping. Kurt Russell plays a character called “Mr. Nobody,” and it is not played for a laugh. And The Rock flexes his way out of a cast.
I don’t know if Furious 7 takes itself seriously. I don’t know if director James Wan takes the franchise seriously. I don’t know if people giving this franchise money take it seriously. But I take it very seriously. Why? Because the Fast & Furious franchise is a cinematic soap opera filled with enough testosterone spilling out of its ears to make body builders quiver. It’s a testosterone wet dream wrapped up in so much camp that it is impossible to know if the camp is intentional or not.
Every shot in this film is hilarious. Sometimes, the hilarity is intentional. Mostly, it is not intentional. Take, for example, the scene in the film that cuts between two characters talking on the phone. It is a scene in which every shot is an intense mobile camera shot that wraps 360 around the character. It’s a phone conversation shot like a modern standoff.
At one point Dom says: “This time…it’s not just about being fast.” You mean the other six times it was just about being fast!? Was the “furious” part just a ruse? You’re just getting furious the seventh time around!? (Note: 8 beers in).
Did I mention that our heroes skydive out of planes inside of cars? They are inside cars and then use parachutes to land the cars after falling thousands of feet! I mean………..why!? They land onto a road, so they could have just, you know, drove there. So……why!?
If your answer to that question was “why not?” then you are a true Fast & Furious fan, and we should hang out over a couple of Coronas.
Furious 7 is the guilty pleasure heaven of guilty pleasure action films. I have been searching for the same guilty pleasure feeling in early Fast & Furious films, and it simply is not there. I wasn’t sure why this was. Until now. (note: 10 beers in).
The reality is that the Fast & Furious franchise has never been good. It started out mediocre and went downhill. Until Fast Five. What I believe has happened with this franchise is this:
There is a point where camp reaches a fever pitch. A franchise like this is allowed to continue, upping the ante until any semblance of reality is thrown out of the Corvette window at 120 mph, and eventually its lack of realism reaches the sublime.
Now, sublimation is a scientific term. As such, I know pretty much nothing about it, my brain shrunken to the size of a peanut by the sheer amount of movies that I watch when I should be reading books. But what I do know is that sublimation involves the process of solids being turned into vapor.
Well, that is exactly what The Fast and the Furious does. It starts as a solid: a half-baked high concept action movie idea turned into the schlock film that everyone expects. But this solid makes money, and its sequel makes money, and its sequel’s sequel makes enough money. Eventually, this solid has been diluted until the franchise is essentially just spewing hot air, but the heat feels warm and comforting. Sublimation.
In aesthetics, the sublime refers to a state of awe at the grandeur of enormous spectacle. In the Gothic tradition, this sublime spectacle is found in the power of nature and the decay of architecture. In The Fast and the Furious, it is found in loud noises and people in cars doing things that would get normal people killed.
The sublime is not about any depth of storytelling or thematic ideas. It is about taking in the moment as a spectacle. It is about imbibing pure awesomeness. Furious 7 certainly abandons storytelling and thematic ideas. And it provides the awesome, in the way of cars leaping from building to building and mortal men with the superhuman ability to stomp cement and break open casts with broken arms.
Is Furious 7 a perfect film? Is it the modern sublime? Or is it merely that fast things being blowed up and scantily clad women featured in butt close-ups is the way to a billion-dollar payday?
Can’t it be a little of column A, a little of column B?
Is this movie bad? Am I having a crisis of faith, here? I’m halfway through the film, 12 beers in, and you’re coming into my house saying this movie is all about the male gaze and testosterone-infused power dynamics? I mean, I just got to the good part. They’re in Abu Dhabi, they played 12 seconds of “Turn Down For What” and 25 seconds of “Going Down For Real” in the span of two minutes. There’s sand everywhere. Cars jumping over buildings. Ronda Rousey for a second. And you’re coming into my house saying I have a drinking problem…
Ahem, sorry about that. I lost my head for a second…
Yes, the Fast & Furious franchise has a problem with the male gaze. But you can’t possibly expect a film like this to know any better. The film is a child, it needs time to learn. I mean, these screenwriters think a car can be held up in freefall by a parachute. They probably don’t fully understand what a butt does, let alone know an appropriate way to represent it on screen.
So now I think that we are in agreement: Furious 7 is the perfect film. It is the 21st century’s Citizen Kane. Future generations will use this film and little else to judge us all by. Furious 7 will be the representation of America for years to come. When all of us die and can no longer speak for ourselves, Furious 7 will speak for us. This is what we all wanted. Right?
Furious 7: A+. Our Citizen Kane (note: 18 drinks in).
I’m in the hospital. Good thing this place has HBO, and Furious 7 plays every day. Getting your stomach pumped never felt so good!
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)
The previous is a work of (partial) satire. Do not drink 18 drinks while watching Furious 7, or any movie for that matter. This may result in you grading movies on a skewed spectrum. Always drink responsibly, and never ever let people into your house. Even if they say they want to chill with some Coronas. They might be lying and not have any Coronas at all; they just want to talk about how movies you enjoy for stupid reasons aren’t PC. (But seriously if you want to chill with some Coronas, hit me up. I don’t have much going on. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime).
If you think Furious 7 is on the same artistic level as Citizen Kane, seek a medical professional immediately. You may be suffering from Fast & Furiousity, which may be a life-threatening illness.