“This time it ain’t just about being fast,” says Vin Diesel while reprising his role as Dominic Turetto in “Furious 7.” This film — directed by James Wan and written by Chris Morgan (based on Gary Scott Thompson’s characters) — is about delivering the most unbelievable and manliest action while paying its respect to its deceased franchise star Paul Walker.
Unlike Walker, who ironically died during a joy ride on a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT before finishing the film, “Furious 7’s” characters are protected by the deus ex machina (with an emphasis on “machina”) of screenwriter Morgan. Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor, survives running up a bus that’s falling off a cliff. As he leaps off the bus, Letty’s (Michele Rodriguez) car shows up just in time for O’Connor to grab on.
“Can’t believe we pulled it off,” someone says.
But Wan and Morgan land this ludicrous stunt and much more. Their “machina” are as invincible as their drivers — doubling as guns, shields, hiding places and cushions. O’Connor zigzags under a truck as a plane shoots at him. A car cushions Luke Hobbs’ (Dwayne “the rock” Johnson) landing as he jumps off an exploding building. Tej Parker’s (Ludacris) bulletproof Jeep Wrangler Unlimited shields his crew from bullets. Hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) hides her all-seeing tracking device (the “God’s Eye”) in a Lykan HyperSport.
The expensive vehicles and the death-defying stunts are part of Wan’s dizzying 137-minute non-stop roller-coaster ride without breaks. One minute we’re parachuting off planes from cars. The next, we’re driving off cliffs and crashing through buildings.
Like the actors speeding from one adrenaline-ridden situation to another, we’re trying to mourn Walker’s death. But tough guys don’t cry. Tough guys smile while they spin donuts off the side of cliffs.
Filmed by Marc Spicer and Stephen F. Windon and edited by Leigh Folsom Boyd, Dylan Highsmith, Kirk M. Morri and Christian Wagner, “Furious 7” has the velocity of an amusement park ride. The camera spins and pans as if we’re on a nauseating tilt-a-whirl. Just as we pause at the top, Wan launches the next action sequence — a pipe wrench fight, a high-speed police chase, a game of keep-away, a game of chicken, a turf war or an explosion.
In the opposing bumper car (a yellow Aston Martin DB9) is Jason Statham, who emerges as shadowy ex-special forces assassin Deckard Shaw — Owen Shaw’s (Luke Evans) older brother. The elder Shaw seeks revenge on Turetto and his “family” for crippling his brother. He goes after Hobbs, Han (Sung Kang), Mia (Jordana Brewster) and other members of Turetto’s family and friends. But family protect their own.
As both defense and revenge, Turetto, O’Connor and the rest of their crew team up with covert special operation leader Frank Petty (Kurt Russell). In exchange for keeping the “God’s Eye” from terrorist Jakande’s (Djimon Hounsou) hands, Petty’s agreed to help them take down Shaw.
Likewise Walker’s family help him finish what he’s started. Walker’s younger brothers, Caleb and Cody, fill in as convincing body doubles. Morgan rewrites the script. Wan directs them. Together (with the help of computer-generated imagery and other machinery), they achieve the work of gods — reviving a dead man and immortalizing him on the silver screen.
“Furious 7” was written by Chris Morgan and directed by James Wan.