The climax of Furious 7 is pretty much the epitome of this entire franchise with its chaos dialed up to a million, cars zoom by and untold amounts of destruction occur. In the midst of it all though, the characters audiences have come to know and love over the years are never forgotten. All these enormous violence fueled set pieces revolve around their choices and relationships, not the other way around.
That’s a major reason why this particular entry becomes the best in the franchise yet, with another primary reason being that all that action I mentioned is glorious to watch. Director James Wan, a newcomer to this saga, handles every sequence of engine enhanced bedlam with sangfroid, with distinctive traits like swirling the camera around (more often than not with an appropriately over the top “swoosh” sound effect) lend the movie and the filmmaker it’s own identity.
Thankfully, Wan is working with a cast that’s more than elated to work with the unique tone of these movies, which includes newcomers like Jason Statham and Kurt Russell. The latter actor, in only his third acting role in the last eight years, is actually one of the films highlights, having a jovial personality and a charming dynamic with Dominic and his friends that’s irresistibly amusing. Meanwhile, Statham finally fixes one primary flaw I’ve had with these movies; the villains. These Fast & Furious adventures are so over the top in ever regard, so it’s puzzling that many of the villains Dominic Toretto (still played by Vin Diesel) and his crew face are so damn unmemorable (does anyone even remember the name of the Fast Five baddie?) Statham lends his sort of calm, “I’ve-got-this-under-control” attitude to Furious Seven’s antagonist, Deckard Shaw, the brother of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), the villain from Fast & Furious 6.
Deckard not only can handle himself in a number of fun action scenes (would you expect any less of Jason Statham?), but his determination to avenge his brother provides a bit of duality to Dominic and his loyalty to his family and friends. It’s a smart move from a characterization standpoint, as it not only lends Deckard some depth, but also allows for more focus and development between the stories group of heroes, which include Brian (Paul Walker) and Dominic’s amnesia stricken lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).
Smaller moments between Letty and Dom are actually quite a bit effective, especially a moment in an Abu Dahbi elevator where Dominic notes how awkward he feels in a suit. It’s peculiar to hear that sort of vulnerability from the character, but it does wonders for showing there’s a real human being behind that muscular entity that can parachute in a car out of a plane without breaking a sweat. Hell, that singular sentence may be an even better apex for this series of films than that aforementioned finale; even when focusing on it’s characters and their relationship, Furious Seven never forgets to bring the sort of incredible spectacle that reduces even the most cynical viewer to awe.