There’s no false advertising in the title of “Furious 7.” Movie No. 7 in the “Fast & Furious” franchise is fabulously stacked with all kinds of furiously over the top, in a good way, action.
There’s something else at work, too, in “Furious 7.” In the moments between and after the new film’s frequent car battles, commando-style battle sequences, fireball explosions, auto cliff diving, man-to-man combat and woman-to-woman combat, “Furious 7” glows with genuine warmth.
Vin Diesel as tough guy Dominic Toretto; rapper-actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the team’s tech guy, Tej; Michelle Rodriguez as the butt-kicking female member of the team, Letty; the late Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner and the others come off as a loving extended family.
The series’ original team of impassioned, underground not necessarily law-abiding East L.A. street racers evolved into a force for good, engaging in battles against international bad guys.
The good deeds the team executed in “Fast & Furious 6” earned pardons for everyone. Now Dom (Diesel) and Brian (Walker) are in L.A. trying to make normality, a strange concept for them, work. But Dom’s wife, the once-believed-dead Letty (Rodriguez), is still suffering from auto-accident-induced memory loss. And, as Brian’s worried wife confides to Dom, Brian is struggling to adapt to life as family man with a young son.
The latter domestic dramas swiftly take a back seat to more pressing matters. “Furious 7” is a revenge flick in reverse — the bad guy’s out for revenge. Deckard Shaw, a mad but coolly efficient, hard-to-kill former British black ops agent makes it his mission to kill the entire “Furious” team. That’s his retaliation for damage the team did in “Fast & Furious 6.”
Playing Shaw, the “Furious” team’s new No. 1 enemy, action-movie veteran Jason Statham shoots, slashes and burns through “Furious 7.” Statham stays stoned-faced throughout the international mayhem and destruction. It’s not a role that requires much acting, but Statham fits the bill for mean and heartless.
True to form, “Furious 7” travels to international locales, including the mountains of Azerbaijan, the penthouses of Abu Dhabi and, following a visit by Shaw, a London hospital in ruins.
Shaw’s introduction segues into Dom and Letty driving on a desert highway in, naturally, a hot car. They’re on their way to an event that’s more spring break than drag race. Hot cars are there, but there are more hot girls, wearing little, which the movie’s leering cameras fully exploit.
Brian and Dom are pulled back into action when Dom’s house explodes. No accident. Because Shaw is on the warpath, the car wars will begin shortly. Things get hot fast.
Director James Wan (“Saw,” “The Conjuring,” “Insidious”) helms “Furious 7,” purported to be the last “Fast & Furious” ride. Working from a script by series veteran Chris Morgan, Wan and his behind-the-scenes team deliver the action with maximum impact. Cars and bodies fly, buildings fall.
“Furious 7” follows Walker’s real-life car-crash death on Nov. 30, 2013. At the time of the crash, “Furious 7” was not yet completed. The director completed the actor’s scenes via film and audio from earlier movies, computer-generated imagery and the use of Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, as stand-ins. Some scenes featuring Walker have a rather strange quality to them, as if the actor isn’t really there.
When the noisy, furious action in “Furious 7” finally ends, the movie features an uncharacteristically gentle scene that simultaneously gives Walker and his “Fast & Furious” character a bittersweet sendoff. There’s also a simple dedication: For Paul.