As long as it’s entertaining, who cares?
So goes the argument for franchises like Transformers and Resident Evil and Saw. The aspect of increasing diminished returns is of no concern as long as audiences get a coupla hours of dumb fun.
Well, what happens when dumb fun is just dumb? Enter Furious 7, the seventh (!) installment of The Fast and the Furious film series. Its only reason for being is because the last one made a fuckton of money. The previous film exists because the one before it made a fuckton of money. And so on, and so on.
Whether there was story left to be told about Dom and his crew (there isn’t) is as irreverent as the plot of Furious 7. There’s no point in explaining the story here because that’s not why it was made. It was made because apparently audiences don’t mind a film that doesn’t just ignore logic and physics, it joyfully gives them the middle finger. Trying to explain any aspect of Furious 7 using logic is an exercise in Sisyphean futility. Instead, any time you wonder about something in the film, the answer will always be, “Because reasons.”
Director James Wan – best known for Saw – was chosen to replace Justin Lin because…I’m not sure. Having only stepped outside of horror once (the thriller Death Sentence) and having never done a big-budget anything, it appears he was chosen simply based on the criteria that 1.) He’s a director, and 2.) He was available.
That said, it appears Wan has graduated from torture porn to car crash porn. The sheer destruction in Furious is certainly the loudest and most obnoxious yet. If you like automotive mayhem on crack, this is your movie. To his credit, Wan does find brilliantly dumb ways to break shit throughout.
Meanwhile Chris Morgan continues to vie for worst screenwriter working today. The dialogue is as stilted as any of the seven films, but here it’s on a different level. The writing see-saws between cringe-worthy and laughably bad, and it can all be summed up in one line delivered by Vin Diesel: “Thing about a street fight is… the streets always win.” Give that any amount of analysis and you risk an aneurysm.
Speaking of Vin Diesel, he’s in full pause-acting mode in Furious 7. When he randomly pauses in the middle of gems like, “I don’t have friends… I got family,” you wonder if his lines were written with ellipses. He’s taken the torch handed off from William Shatner and is sprinting with it with gleeful abandon.
The rest of the cast? Paul Walker uses his usual deer-in-headlight expression for the majority of his performance, Michelle Rodriguez employs her “I’m fucking hard” look even when she’s happy, and Tyrese Gibson’s attempts at humor are painful to watch. At least Dwayne Johnson knows what ridiculous reality he’s in and plays Agent Hobbs accordingly.
Which is to say, Johnson understands just how stupid Furious is. Just how insanely stupid is this movie? Paul Walker and Tony Jaa don’t just have a fist fight, they have a fist fight as they’re riding a metal door down a flight of stairs. Vin Diesel and Jason Statham don’t have just one high-speed, head-on collision, they have two – and walk away from both. And the team isn’t just chased around L.A. by a gunship, they’re chased by a gunship that launches a Predator drone – because why the fuck not?
Simply put, the only way to outdo Fast and Furious 6 is to go from Hollywood-unbelievable to just plain unbelievable. Because Furious 7 can only justify its existence by topping previous films in terms of action setpieces, the threshold for “suspension of disbelief” asymptotically approaches infinity. Furious 7 is so stupid, if you don’t turn your brain off, your brain will turn itself off out of self-preservation.