The Fast & Furious movies have always been about three things – fast cars, furious action, and most importantly family. The latter has never been more important to the franchise until now. I had a chance to finally see the latest installment in the franchise and take a look at how the death of Paul Walker in an unrelated car accident while the film was in production affected the movie in our Furious 7 review.
When you enter the movie theatre to sit down and enjoy any of the previous six Fast & Furious movies, you get exactly what you expect. Fast cars, great action, ridiculous and sometimes implausible stunts, and just a fun movie going experience in general. One thing that has always tied the cast together is the focus on the entire team, not as friends, but as a family. It’s always been a focal point during the previous movies, but walking into that theatre knowing that this was the last movie Paul Walker was working on before his death brings that sense of family even more to the forefront of the story.
As far as a Fast & Furious movie goes, Furious 7 more than delivers. The cars are fast, and vary from the muscle to the sexy. With each movie you wonder how they’re going to top the stunts from the previous one and top them they did – from driving cars out of an airplane to launching a rare $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport out of the penthouse of one tower into another, and insane car chases and heists, Furious 7 was filled with fantastic action moments. The cast, as always, works and plays well off of each other – and after seven movies, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Even though Dwayne Johnson (as DSS Agent Hobbs) is a relative newcomer to the series (first introduced in Furious Five), he is definitely fitting in as part of the Furious family, at one point giving Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) advice not as a government agent but as a brother.
The new cast additions fit in nicely as well. Jason Statham, who plays Deckard Shaw – brother of Furious 6 villain Owen Shaw – was right at home as a rogue ex-Special Forces assassin and a mercenary out to avenge his brother’s treatment at the hands of Hobb’s and the Furious crew. Statham basically sets the stage for the movie in the opening sequence as we see not only the incredible destruction he can cause, but also sets up the family bond further by declaring revenge on those responsible for his brother’s current condition. Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and Nathalie Emmanuel as the hacker Ramsey also fit well with the existing cast, and their roles in Furious 7 were definitely set up for future appearances should the series continue.
Typical Fast & Furious expectations aside, the family bond was really focused on in the movie – a little more so than in past outings. We see Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) in full on family mode, complete with the struggles O’Connor is facing settling down as a father and family man. Toretto’s usual lines about family continue – from “I don’t have friends. I got family.” to “The most important thing in life will always be the people right there, right now. That’s what’s real.” – really hammer the point home. Coupled with the issues that Letty (Michelle Rodriquez) is going through with her memory and trying to remember what she and Toretto had at one point, Furious 7 feels a bit deeper than the previous movies in the franchise. The previous installments tend to feel like action movies with an underlying family bond, in Furious 7 the family bond takes the forefront and the action sequences – while still over the top and incredible as we’ve come to expect and love about the series – don’t seem as important any more.
It’s known that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were great friends off the set as well, and it’s apparent that the family bond portrayed in the movie spilled over into real life between them and the cast of the franchise. All the family focus in the franchise and Furious 7 comes to a head in the final moments of the movie after Deckard Shaw and co. are taken care of, plot lines are left somewhat open ended for future movies, and the Furious crew is relaxing on the beach as an extended family unit watching O’Connor, Mia, and their son playing in the water. Dominic gets up to leave and is seen pulling up to a stop sign on the road, and (surprise) O’Connor pulls up beside him, glances over, says Dom can’t leave without saying goodbye and off the two go for one final ride as a montage of moments between the two and the rest of the crew from the previous movies appears before O’Connor’s car takes the exit to the left while Dominic continues to the right, the screen fades to white and the simple words “For Paul” appear on the screen.
Check out the music video “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth which contains the final song and some scenes from the movie showing the montage and Paul Walker send-off. There’s no arguing the franchise is a money maker, but perhaps it’s time to lay the franchise to rest. Future Fast & Furious movies just won’t be the same without him.