|Paul Walker and Vin Diesel part ways in Furious 7|
When an integral actor loses their life during a film's production, it hurts more than just the film's schedule. Besides the delays, the personal loss can put a dark shroud over everything. With the death of Paul Walker, certain films come immediately to mind. In Ed Wood's classic crapfest, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bela Lugosi's character was replaced by a constantly veiled, taller man. In John Landis' Twilight Zone: The Movie, Vic Morrow's Vietnam scene was replaced by an alternate segment that Morrow filmed. Similar to what happened with Brandon Lee in The Crow, Oliver Reed's unfinished scenes were filmed with body doubles and special effects, in Ridley Scott's Oscar winner, Gladiator. Terry Gilliam's film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, cleverly had Heath Ledger's character transform into three other incarnations played by, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. Hollywood magic can replace an actor's likeness but, they can't always replace the soul that's been left behind.
The sad thing about Furious 7, is that even though Walker and his likeness is in most of the movie, it feels like you're watching a ghost. This film tries so hard to be sentimental when Walker's on the screen, that it loses the sense of fun that had Walker interested in doing these films in the first place. There are times when this film feels more like a funeral than an over-the-top action flick. Moments with Jordana Brewster's character, or dealing with Michelle Rodriguez's amnesia, try to be more dramatic than a film of this type can handle. The other sad part about Furious 7, is that it's gone so far from the first film, by consistently one-upping the action from previous installments that, it loses itself in the sheer outrageousness of it all. What's next? Vin Diesel crashes into a vat of toxic waste and becomes a superhero? The cars get invisibility upgrades? Or, how about some aliens attack the Earth and, Vin & co. are the only ones with the coolest, laser-mounted vehicles, to stop them?
There are some good things about Furious 7 though. Connections to previous films and characters, helps in between moments of implausibility and, there are some cool action scenes. Though super long, the parachuting car scene is a funny and entertaining segment, that has the best action of the film. The scene near the beginning that pits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson against the film's main villain. played by Jason Statham, is also a good amount of kick ass fun that I was hoping to see in a future Expendables movie. The comedic chemistry between Tyrese Gibson and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, lightens things up but, isn't frequent enough. Kurt Russell (Escape from New York) as this film's C.I.A. contact, is a fun character that I wish we could have seen more of. Statham's character is this movie's biggest waste of time. Besides his superhuman abilities, Statham is mostly mute throughout. He doesn't even do what his character was designed for which is, the picking off of Diesel's "family", like was established in the previous film. I believe because of Walker's real life death, that the filmmakers were afraid to utilize Statham's character to his fully effective potential. And that's a damn shame.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Furious 7
The Good- Paul Walker's send off is touching, poignant, and ultimately appropriate. It's so good, that I almost forgot how lacking this film is.
The Bad- The aftermath of Statham's attack on a federally protected hospital, that leaves dozens of special forces soldiers dead. You know why we only see the aftermath? Because it's imfreakingpossible! Djimon Hounsou's (Constantine) completely wasted character (I'm sensing a pattern here), blasting L.A. with an attack chopper and drone, and there's no timely response from police and military airships. Diesel and Statham fighting atop a parking garage with operatic battle music playing simultaneously. And The Rock ripping off his arm cast while still recovering from multiple bone fractures, so that he could join the fight. Give me a break.
The Ugly- They plan on making at least three more Fast & Furious films after this. Why?!
Final Thoughts on Furious 7
Furious 7 is not a complete waste of time but, it does make you wish for the simple "cops and robbers" premise from so long ago, before the series tried to be a James Bond/Wanted mash up with an over-bloated budget. That being said, Walker's tribute is worth sitting through a hundred and thirty-seven minutes of uneven exploitation. Please, greedy movie studio, let this series rest in peace with the same respect that you've shown Walker, his fans, and most definitely his family.
Rating- 5.5 out of 10
Running Time- 137 Minutes
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