Hey action film fans, Slick Dungeon here! I’ve made it through seven, yes seven, Fast and Furious films in the lead up to the new one releasing this week. The seventh film ditches the word fast and is just called Furious 7. There was definitely not a plan of how to name these movies but whatever. This review will have spoilers for the first seven films in the franchise. If you haven’t watched the movies you may want to buckle up and drive furiously over to see the movies and then get back here fast to read the review. You can also take a look at my reviews of the first six films. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here, Fast and Furious here, Fast Five here, and Fast and Furious 6 here.
Having six films already made means you are guaranteed to have people come to the theater to see the next movie. However, this franchise was dependent on two stars who really made the movies work, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Both of them are in this movie, but tragedy struck before it was complete. Sadly, Paul Walker died in a car crash as a passenger of all things before the film was finished. Most of his scenes had been completed but there are a few spots where a combination of stand-ins, stunt men, and CGI had to take over the job for the deceased actor.
So, with some clear disadvantages this film still had to deliver an action packed story, wrap up some loose ends from the previous movie, and finish the film without one of the two main stars. Did the movie deliver or is it one that signals the franchise has run out of steam and should possibly be retired?
Let’s dig in and find out!
Spoilers follow below!
We’re all Back Home
The start of the film has Brian, Dom, Mia and the rest of the gang back home where they belong in Los Angeles. They are leading normal lives (at least for them). Brian isn’t driving fast cars, he’s taking his son, Jack to school in a minivan. Dom is still working on his dad’s car like always. Han has gone to Tokyo and this movie is where the timeline starts to really catch up so we can place Tokyo Drift right around the events that start this film.
Owen Shaw, the big bad guy of the previous film, has been hospitalized and his older brother Deckard is now out for revenge. He is planning to find out who put his brother in the hospital and take everyone responsible for it down.
To find out who did it, Deckard Shaw heads to LA and breaks into Hobbs’ office. He downloads the file on Dom’s team and ends up in a fight with Hobbs. While Hobbs is huge, Shaw is a skilled fighter and extremely fast. But he also cheats. He basically blows up Hobbs’ office, causing Hobbs to jump out of a window to save a fellow cop. This leaves Shaw with the file, Hobbs in the hospital and Dom unaware of what is going on.
Mia tells Dom she’s pregnant again and Brian is struggling to find meaning in the slower paced life he now has. She hasn’t told Brian about the pregnancy. Before she can have that conversation, Dom gets a package from Tokyo. Then he gets the call from Deckard Shaw we saw at the end of the last movie. The package was a letter bomb which destroys Dom’s house. Everyone is okay but it’s a close call.
Dom’s not Happy
Dom then finds out Hobbs is in the hospital and asks Hobbs how to find Shaw. Hobbs tells him Shaw is a ghost, the government won’t allow anyone to go after him, but he knows Dom is going to go anyway. Dom goes to Tokyo and we see the end scene from Tokyo Drift, although we don’t see the race between Sean and Dom. Still, we all know Dom would make mince meat out of the guy. Anyway, Sean gives Dom the necklace of Letty’s found at the crash where Han died. Dom knows this is a message to him.
At Han’s funeral in LA, Dom, Tej, Brian and Roman mourn the loss of their friends. Dom sees Deckard Shaw and goes after him in an underground tunnel. The two get into a head on collision and Dom gets ready to fight. Shaw has a gun on Dom and it looks pretty bad when suddenly a bunch of military troops descend on the scene and save Dom. Turns out this team is led by a man named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel) who is a super secret spy operative for the government.
Apparently there is a device called the “God’s eye” which is capable of using all cell phone cameras, security devices and pretty much anything electronic in the world to find someone through facial recognition. It’s pretty much able to see anyone anywhere anytime someone wants. It’s made by a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is the only one capable of disabling it. Mr, Nobody wants Dom and his team to get Ramsey from a mercenary who has kidnapped her named Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). In exchange, Mr. Nobody will let Dom use God’s eye to find Shaw.
In order to get Ramsey, Dom and his team will have to get onto a road in the mountains that is not normally accessible. The only way to do it is go by air. So, yes, this is the movie where they drop cars out of the back of an airplane and have the cars parachute onto the road. It’s a ridiculously insane stunt and I love it.
There’s a chase, a big shootout, a whole bunch of action but Dom’s team does get Ramsey. Ramsey agrees to help the team because she can tell a group as varied as this is either led by fear or loyalty. And she doesn’t see any fear of Dom from anyone on the team. But, to get God’s eye, they have to go to Abu Dhabi where a Saudi prince has installed a chip containing God’s eye into his car which is on the top penthouse of the tallest building in the world. Yeah, this is also the movie where they drive a car through three of the tallest buildings in the world. It’s a spectacular stunt.
Shaw is not so Easy to Catch
With God’s eye in hand, Dom is able to figure out where Shaw is at. He, Brian, and Mr. Nobody go to get the bad guy but they are ambushed when Jakande and his men show up. Mr. Nobody is injured but Brian and Dom make it out of there. But Jakande ends up with God’s eye.
Dom still has Ramsey though so he has a new plan. He’s going to head back to LA, let Shaw come after him, let Jakande come after Ramsey, and stop them all. How? Because he and his team know the streets of LA better than anyone.
Dom plans to take Shaw on himself. The rest of the team need to keep Ramsey close enough to the God’s eye she can hack into it but not so close she gets killed in the process. There’s a huge chase around LA, there are some fantastic car stunts, especially when two cars drift around each other and simultaneously pass Ramsey through the windows. Jakande comes with a full military assault drone and helicopter. Meanwhile Dom and Shaw face off once again. In the chaos of it all there is an explosion Hobbs sees so he…. umm… flexes his arm to break out of his cast… takes some pain meds… and is totally fine. Yeah, I guess the Rock is just a superhuman in these movies? I mean, that’s what he plays in most movies so, sure why not?
Dom battles Shaw to a standstill. Hobbs helps distract the helicopter. Brian has to go fix a satellite relay. In this scene you notice the absence of Paul Walker because in most of it, his face is in shadows or turned away. It still makes sense as far as the actions go but it’s pretty obvious this is mostly stunt coordination here.
And at one point Dom gets Shaw to fall through a broken street (yeah you read that right) and then uses his car to attach a bag of grenades to a helicopter midair (still read that right) which Hobbs then shoots and makes the helicopter explode. Dom nearly dies. Brian gives CPR with the help of Letty but she makes him stop so she can tell Dom she remembers everything at last. This is including the fact they were married. So Letty is all the way back and Dom is alive. But, just a little side PSA for folks here. Don’t stop CPR in the middle to try and bring someone back by telling them you remember stuff. If someone is in need of CPR continue until either trained medical professionals come, the person regains consciousness, or you become too exhausted to continue. Just figured I would put that here in case I ever need CPR, thanks.
We also see Hobbs put Shaw into a maximum security prison but it’s clear we are nowhere near done with Shaw in this series.
The end of the movie is kind of hard to watch. It’s not a bad ending by any means. It’s Dom talking about family and the usual stuff but it’s with the backdrop of Paul Walker’s death. They end the movie with Dom and Brian racing up to one another and Brian saying he can’t let Dom go without saying goodbye. They do use a CGI Brian here but it’s still really emotional and then they end the movie with a montage of Brian and some of his best moments from all the films. Not the ones full of stunts, but the ones where there are personal character connections and it’s really well done.
Look, after seven films, I am totally beyond caring if stunts even sort of make sense here. So many people should have died in so many ways in this movie but it’s a roller coaster of a ride and I am here for it. The plot is a bit forced here with the whole God’s eye thing but Shaw makes a great villain. And there are still some great character moments between Brian and Mia and Letty and Dom. Without those moments throughout this franchise, we’d never buy Dom’s whole, “I don’t have friends, I have family,” routine.
From here on out I give this franchise full permission to pull off the most insane stunts they can because they want to. Just don’t forget to have those small moments in there too.
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