As this seventh story starts, Dominic Toretto and his makeshift family of hotshot hot rodders and heavy-fisted rumblers are all focused on personal pursuits. Former undercover cop Brian, for instance, is gearing up to be a carpool dad and attentive hubby. And Dom’s love interest, Letty, is still trying to regain her memories—lost in a terrible accident. But all those endeavors are about to be tossed into the backseat for a while.
There’s a new high-beam threat on the horizon, you see. A former British special forces guy named Deckard Shaw is grinding his teeth, flexing his muscles and putting the pedal to the metal in an attempt to get revenge for his hospitalized brother, Owen (a past franchise baddie).
This tenacious Terminator-like terrorizer has already killed Japanese crewmember Han, hospitalized the über-muscled cop Hobbs and blown up Dom’s home. It doesn’t look like he’ll stop until the whole crew is broken to bits—one bone and one axel at a time. And the problem is, this seasoned killer is a slippery sort. Just finding out what direction he’s driving in is nearly impossible.
Paging Mr. Nobody to the starting line.
This senior agent from some unnamed government agency has a job for Dom and a special reward up his sleeve. There’s this brilliant cutting-edge surveillance program, he says, that can pinpoint anybody in the world in a matter of minutes. All Dom and his talented team have to do is retrieve it and its hacker-creator from the clutches of a terrorist-mercenary.
Of course, that job’ll likely entail parachuting a group of cars into the Caucasus Mountains from the back of a cargo plane, hijacking a heavily armored moving prison, plummeting off sheer mountain cliffs, stealing a supercar out of a skyscraper in Abu Dhabi, battling a missile-bristling drone, and coming out on top after scores of heated car chases, enormous explosions and up-close-and-personal beatdowns.
In other words, it’ll just be another day in the office for Dom and his crew.
The one thing Dom and his friends have going for them—when they’re not ramrodding around the world in a maniacal frenzy—is the fact that they all sincerely care for one another. And they revere the concept of family.
Dom, in fact, repeatedly states that he doesn’t have friends, it’s his family he’s fighting for. Brian says his new suburban life has him “missing bullets,” but all his pals agree that his blossoming family is a beautiful thing to witness and be near. And though Hobbs isn’t always running in the same circles as Dom and his crew, we see that his relationship with his young daughter is very valuable to him. We watch a flashback scene that shows us Dom’s respect and desire for marriage and his love for Letty.
Hobbs throws himself between an explosion and a fellow officer, ultimately getting blown out a window and sustaining a number of broken bones … but saving his friend’s life.
Dom picks up a cross out of the effects of a fallen comrade and wears it. We also see him using it as a substitute for a ring in a marriage ceremony. He crosses himself at a funeral. The impressive surveillance program Mr. Nobody seeks is called “God’s Eye.”
It seems that well-waxed, high-revving hot rods and similarly described bikini girls are an expected pairing in all F&F pics. In four or five different scenes the camera languidly examines the long tanned legs, exaggerated cleavage and flexing glutei maximi of scores of attractive women dressed in barely there outfits.
When the pretty hacker Ramsey hits the beach, two male members of Dom’s crew (and the camera) closely ogle her jiggling bust and talk of their desire for her. Dom and Letty kiss, as do Brian and his wife.
The fast and furious and frequent pummelings on display here are often ludicrously cartoonish. A battered and hospitalized Hobbs, for instance, rises from his sick bed at one point, muscularly cracks open his arm cast and pops his bones back in place while muttering, “Time to go to work.”
Dom and Brian drive a supercharged million-dollar speedster out the window of an Abu Dhabi skyscraper, smashing down from one tower to the next. And Dom and Shaw play a game of high-speed chicken, slamming their hurtling cars head-on into each other. They then proceed to both crawl out of the wreckage unscathed, except, of course, for the need to flex their shoulders and crack their necks. And Dom even uses his speeding car as something of a surface-to-bad-guy-in-the-helicopter missile, blowing the airborne enemy out of the sky.
Ultimately, a Jay Leno-size collection of cars and trucks (including police vehicles) are smashed, run off the road at high speeds, impaled by splintered trees and generally blown to smithereens by fierce gunfire, armor-piercing artillery, missiles and other explosives. Buildings are likewise ripped and smashed.
When Letty and a female bodyguard (played by UFC title-holder Ronda Rousey) face off, the full-on jaw punches and body throws look savagely painful. The guys—including Hobbs, Brian, Dom and Shaw—all meet in their own wince-worthy, up-close battles with similar head-pounding, glass-smashing, pipe-swinging and bone-breaking effects. All that flesh flailing may be superhero-like in its lack of realistic gore, but it’s gritty and torturous looking nonetheless.
Crude or Profane Language
A post-battle, partially muffled f-word. Close to 15 s-words. Uses of “h—,” “a–,” “b–ch” and “b–tard” range from a couple to a dozen. God’s name is combined with “d–n” five or six times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Several party and racing scenes boast lots of beer, champagne and hard liquor. Dom drinks beer with Mr. Nobody. After breaking free of his cast, Hobbs pops prescription painkillers to, you know, just take the edge off a bit.
Other Negative Elements
Crude, testosterone-fueled comments drive the conversation from time to time. Hobbs, for instance, snarls out the line, “He’s gonna wish his momma had kept her legs crossed,” at one angry juncture. And it’s worth noting again that martial arts-influenced brawls, some incredibly dangerous vehicular stunts, and a total disregard for law and order are all glorified throughout the pic.
A week or so before its release, Fast & Furious franchise mainstay Vin Diesel predicted that Furious 7 would be in serious contention for Best Picture at the Oscars next year. And the reviewing press at large gave him a grin and a sardonic “You bet, bud!” in reply.
Pretty much everybody knows what to expect from these nitrous oxide-laced pics by now: big and bold shots of twisted metal and torn-up asphalt merged with flexing muscles and bikini-wrapped bottoms, all packaged in 4th of July-level pyrotechnics and accompanied by the eardrum-pounding screams of overtaxed car engines. Great acting? Well, you really don’t need much of that at this party! A compelling story? Hey, isn’t the flash and bang interesting enough for ya?
The only real variation this time around is the fact that series co-star Paul Walker died in a tragic off-set car accident mid-way through the shoot. And so filmmakers had to digitally reshape the movie a bit, ending things with a sentimental retrospective to the actor and his well-liked character.
Such a lump-in-the-throat send-off may not move you to think of prestigious acting awards, but it does, perhaps inadvertently, push beyond the typical F&Ffantasy. For Walker’s demise emphasizes that in the real world a cavalier attitude about racing too fast and drifting too furiously generally ends in grief. And no amount of stardom or big box-office horsepower can completely swerve around that.