Say what you want about the Fast and the Furious franchise, almost a decade and a half after its first release, the series resembles some sort of cinematic phenomenon. To the surprise of many, director Justin Lin hit a stride with 2011’s Fast Five by breaking down the series’ well-worn formula to almost Bond-style elemental parts. The variables are so easily interchangeable at this stage that James Wan’s latest adrenaline-fueled outing – the last to feature recently deceased star Paul Walker – merely has to sit back, tick the boxes, hit the NOX and enjoy the ride.
Jason Statham fills the villain-shaped slot, as Deckard Shaw. Shaw’s a seemingly indestructible menace, determined to avenge a younger brother who was killed by Dom Toretto (Diesel) and his gang in the previous installment. He takes out one gang member early on in Tokyo and so the rest must regroup one last time (right…) to take him down. The hunt for Shaw sends them skyscraper-jumping in Abu Dhabi and car parachuting in Azerbaijan, before returning home for a final brawl.
As per usual, the film is awash with chart tunes, ludicrous stunts, jiggling behinds, shiny paint jobs and heavily product-placed Mexican beer. U.A.E. petro princes seem to have bought a ticket too. What remains compelling about the series, however, is that beneath all the petrol and chaos – and thanks largely to the remarkable sincerity of Diesel’s performance – a real sense of camaraderie has grown. And ultimately that shines through, however unsubtly, for Walker’s final bow.
What can you say? If you liked the last one, you’ll probably like this. Not for the unconverted.
Furious 7 | Directed by James Wan (USA, 2015) with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham. Starts April 1