Friday, 17 April 2015

BUILT FOR SPEED: Solid friendships, dazzling stunts anchor action-packed Furious 7

VROOM WITH A VIEW: Walker (as Brian) and Diesel (as Dom) in a scene from the box-office-topping film, now playing.

They say past behaviour is the most reliable indicator of future behaviour and as far as the Fast and Furious franchise goes, not much has changed. And that’s terrific news for moviegoers who like their popcorn with nonstop action and healthy servings of drama and humour. 

As Chapter 7 in the high octane, high grossing franchise unfolds one comes to realize that while age has mellowed Dom and the crew, at heart they remain the thrill-seeking daredevils we’ve followed since the first instalment blazed into cinemas back in 2003 – and who seem to exemplify the very idea of living on the edge. 

And yet there’s a sad postscript to this saga, given the tragic and untimely death of Paul Walker (who plays Brian), who perished in a vehicular crash along with a close friend in Los Angeles last year in one of the unfortunate accounts of life imitating art we’ve ever heard of. Even so, Paul’s memory and legacy live on in Furious 7, best described as an adrenaline rush of a movie laden with breathless action sequences, fisticuffs and death-defying stunts aplenty, the picturesque backdrops of Tokyo, Abu Dhabi and LA and the precipitous mountainsides of Azerbaijan, where the film crescendos to its stunning climax.

Fast-paced doesn’t even begin to describe what graces the screen, and that’s nothing to complain about. To get a proper grasp of what the movie is about is to acknowledge that the guys have to attend to unfinished business, which comes in the sinewy shape of hardened assassin Deckard Shaw (The Transporter’s Jason Statham), who is intent on exacting revenge on those who had a hand in the London ‘incident’ that left his brother seriously paralyzed.

That includes Dom (Vin Diesel) and the posse who reteam to deal with this latest adversary. But that’s easier said than done, as Shaw’s the ruthless type who amasses a body count without even blinking an eyelash. (Witness the movie’s opening scene.) What eventually plays out is a battle between “shadows and ghosts,” as described by Kurt Russell’s character, the leader of the armed forces who recruits Dom’s crew for the fight against this common enemy. If Furious 7 represents the final instalment in the series, what a way to go.

The humour and light banter among the brothers fly with the same warp speed as the action itself, and old faces like Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (tech whiz Tej), Tyrese Gibson (motormouth Rhone), Michelle Rodriquez (Letty), Jordana Brewster (new mom Mia) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (as Officer Hobbes) are joined by Djimon Hounsou, who plays a nefarious operative who has partnered with Shaw. Then there’s that mystery girl with the curls and the accent who could make or break the mission.

Though the Fast and Furious movies have always been about the flashy whips built for speed and the unbelievable action sequences that defy the laws of physics, at the core you’ll find arcs of friendship, loyalty and family fiercely protecting its own. In the end, Furious 7 reacquaints us with a group of friends who prize their unbreakable bonds above all else and remain true to that come what may. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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