In the 15 years of the franchise, the Fast and Furious movies have grown from undercover cop storylines to plots involving world-class heists and high-tech terrorists. If “Fast Five” was originally written as the “last ride,” then “Fast & Furious 6” and “Furious 7” could be considered victory laps one and two, with the latter molded as a tribute to star Paul Walker who died in a car accident in November 2013.
“Furious 7,” rated PG-13 and released on April 3, features new villain Deckard Shaw, the revenge-seeking brother of previous villain Owen Shaw. Shaw, played by Jason Statham, is hunting down Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team. Finally connecting the “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” to the remaining movies, it is revealed that Shaw is responsible for killing team member Han. After putting Toretto’s formidable FBI pal Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital and blowing up the family home in the first 15 minutes, it’s clear that Shaw means business.
In order to find Shaw, Toretto and his crew partner with shady government official “Mr. Nobody.” Nobody’s quest to stop a tracking device from falling into the wrong hands takes the team around the globe. Although they are supposedly completing a mission for the resources to find Shaw, it seems that he’s the surprise twist that finds them everywhere they go.
In a world where physics doesn’t exist and traffic laws don’t matter, “Furious 7” delivers several outrageous stunts that fans have come to expect. Although Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) tells his son that cars don’t fly, stunts in the movie lead you to believe otherwise. There are cars parachuting from planes, cars driving out of one building into the next and cars taking out drones and helicopters.
Concerning the characters, a quality Dom-Letty plot line brings actress Michelle Rodriguez back into the fold after her amnesiac character kept her aloof in the last movie. The death of actor Paul Walker is heavy on the viewer’s mind, making the moves of his character all the more touching and nerve-wracking. I was feeling all of the feels watching Walker’s portrayal of a loving dad and devoted spouse.
Thematically, Walker’s death has also had an impact. When Rodriguez repeats the film’s previous mantra “ride or die,” Vin Diesel replies “Why don’t you just ride this time?” Several characters express that there will be no more funerals for loved ones, and Diesel’s monologue closing the movie was clearly added as a salute to Walker. Characters walk away from brutal crashes without a scratch. Critic Matt Singer points out that although this could have backfired, it seems to be a fitting tribute to Walker “because the characters in the film can do what people in the real world cannot: defy death.”