Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Furious 7 Is Fast Cars, Bikinis, and Non-Stop Fun

Vin Diesel is back behind the wheel in a pretty terrific sequel.

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Furious 7
Universal Pictures

Furious 7 could be the movie that kicks the 14-year-old Fast and Furious franchise past the $3-billion mark at the international box office. All of the series' distinctive elements are in place. We have the casually multi-racial cast and the usual off-hand jokes (when it becomes necessary to look underneath a car, Vin Diesel just leans down and lifts the front end up into the air). And there's a more-than-usual reverence for family and friendship, much of it stirred by the departure of longtime star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in 2013, midway through production.   

What we have mostly, of course, is state-of-the-art automotive uproar, room-wrecking MMA-style smack-downs, and wildly inventive stunts performed by real live people. When we see a man running desperately up the outside of a bus that's tilting over the edge of a cliff, or a squad of muscle cars roaring out the back of a transport plane into free fall toward the ground far below—well, we know we're in the presence of filmmakers who take this sort of thing seriously. (New director James Wan, best-known for horror hits like Saw and the Insidious films, proves himself a natural action man.) This is the longest movie in the franchise, and toward the end the action overload begins to wear. But the picture never wanders far from its furious imperative, and it's a lot of fun.

It gets down to business right at the beginning, with new villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) visiting his banged-up brother Owen (Luke Evans) in a London hospital. You'll recall that Owen succumbed to rough justice at the end of Fast & Furious 6. Now Deckard, a rogue special-forces assassin, vows reprisal against his brother's assailants—a scary prospect, as we soon see. On the way out of the hospital he hands a cop a live grenade.

The people Deckard begins hunting, naturally, are ex-con street racer Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his daredevil crew, who were all pardoned for various worldwide infractions at the end of the last movie and are currently trying out the straight life. Dom is peacefully ensconced in his house in L.A. with his buddy Brian (Walker), who's married to Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), with whom he has a cute little kid. Brian isn't adjusting well to tranquility—he misses the action-packed old days. As if in answer to one of his prayers, the house he now calls home suddenly blows up.

Dom reconvenes his crew. Once again we have his still-amnesiac inamorata Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), comic-relief specialists Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris), and long-ago buddy Lucas (Sean Boswell, returning from the third film, Tokyo Drift). Also back is diplomatic-security bruiser Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), the crew's onetime antagonist, now a pal. And since a number of characters cashed in their chips in the last movie, some fresh ones have been inserted into the fray. Chief among these is Kurt Russell, playing a shadowy government operative who wants Dom to lay hands on a cool new spy device called "God's Eye," which will "change the face of manhunts forever." This MacGuffin-esque item—which Dom is invited to employ in tracking Deckard—is currently in the possession of a computer hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, of Game of Thrones), and is also being sought by an African terrorist called Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), who wants to use it to conquer the world (or something).

The story ricochets from the Mojave Desert to Tokyo to Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi, and apart from a few sweet romantic interludes with Dom and Letty, the action never lets up. There's a ferocious encounter between Statham and Johnson that reduces a large office to splinters and shards, and a long multi-auto chase up the side of a mountain that's packed with great stunt work. At a penthouse party filled with gold-painted bikini girls, we get a high-heel melee pitting Letty against a contingent of female bodyguards led by steely MMA champ Ronda Rousey. And following that there's a scene involving a $3-million sports car and a trio of skyscrapers that is wonderfully ridiculous—the movie's best gag.

Paul Walker's death shut down the picture's production for a few months while script adjustments were made. His incomplete performance was filled out with old footage from past films and stand-in work by his brothers Caleb and Cody, and the improvisation is fairly seamless. Walker gets a brief tribute sequence at the end of the movie, and it's the best kind of heartfelt farewell. He may not be coming back, but he'd probably be happy to know that the eighth installment of the franchise that made him a star is already in the works.

NEXT: Friday A/V Club: D.W. Griffith and the Censors

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  1. and wildly inventive stunts performed by real live people

    Except for the stunt “driving” which is all CGI.

    1. I thought this was lame too.

      We are entering an age when computer simulations can visually mimic live action more closely than the naked eye can perceive difference.

      The implications for news coverage and political theater are downright scary.

      But I don’t see any value in a real stunt purity test. It doesn’t add any value to me if groceries are driven to the supermarket by an Amish horse and carriage either.

      Sometimes Hollywood oversells authenticity as a commodity. It’s make-believe after all.

      Tom Cruise does his own stunts? Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

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  2. Does anyone end up living their life a quarter mile at a time?

    1. Yes.

      NHRA drag racers.

    2. I travel through my life at a rate of 1 second per second.

  3. This is the longest movie in the franchise?twice as long as each of the first four installments

    This can’t possibly be correct.

    1. And isn’t. Well, it is the longest film in the series. But not twice as long as any of the others. Math has always been a challenge….

      1. I just started thinking, even if the early films were only 90 minutes, that would make this one 3 hours. And as far as PG-13 blockbusters go, not even the overlong Transformers movies are 3 hours, although they’re getting close.

      2. Kurt Loder is so cool that his moniker in the comments is “KL”…
        AND HOW IS THAT PRONOUNCED?!!?

        Get it?

        1. “Do you have a nickname”
          (cold stare)
          “people call me… ‘Kill’…..”

      3. KL is a badass who owns + corrects his minor goofs. Seems like 98.5% of journos try to pretend all their offerings are crystal-perfect, gleaming orbs of wisdom…. sans flub or flaw. Then, these hotshots sneak back in the dark, fix their errors, & try to pretend it never happened. Even worse are those who habitually argue an obvious error/ contradiction is somehow correct from a certain point of view, usually coupled with ad hominem attacks on the commentator for “mansplaining” or living in his basement or whatever. Worst of all are the media types who pretend they are far too fabulous to read what the great mass of unwashed proles say about their scintillating articles.

        KL writes killer reviews, has an interesting, educated perspective on art, and has the balls to admit his mistake when he makes one. Gold standard IMHO

    2. I’m thinking Kurt ate a *lot* of junk food during that show.

  4. Looking forward to this. From the trailer, it looks like the Rock flexes his way out of an arm plaster cast, while saying into camera, “Daddy’s gotta go to work.” That’s worth a matinee ticket, at least.

  5. I can’t see a movie where someone says “Calvary”, and they’re not referring to the place Jeebus was crucified.

    1. Oh, you Christfag…

    2. Didn’t they say that in Pulp Fiction, when Samuel L Jackson was on the phone with Ving Rhames?

      You’re not hating on Pulp Fiction, are you? I’m not wild about Tarantino’s more recent stuff, but that movie is tons of fun.

    3. Would you love a movie where someone says, “Here comes the cavalry!” ….

      …..and then someone else with them launches into a pedantic lecture about ‘Golgotha’ and the origin of the term….?….

      ….and then they just *shoot them*, mid-sentence, Indiana Jones style?

      1. I would enjoy that tremendously, because the person being shot is dead wrong. The origin of the word “cavalry” has nothing to do with Golgotha/Calvary. It comes from the French word for “horse”.

        1. (A chevalier rides into H&R and pistols Kristen)

          “It is ironic, you see!”

          (rides into sunset)

          1. I am nothing if not kaptious [ sic ], you see!

  6. Does it seem like EVERY outlet is giving this a good review? NRO, Reason, etc etc. Maybe out of deference to the deceased nice guy Walker? OR is it really that fucking balls out in terms of action?

    And how will it compare to “Fury Road”?!?!?

    1. “OR is it really that fucking balls out in terms of action?”

      Hating on The Fast and Furious has been a cultural-superiority-signaling-cliche for over a decade.

      Its like American Sniper…only it celebrates *Guidos* instead of redneck soldiers.

      Not just “white trash”…but trash of all-races. “Its a Small World After All”-celebration of low-brow, plastic-spoilered, kicker thumping, neon-underlighted, steroid-using and shitty-tribal-tattoo having small-dicked America at its most obnoxiously over-cologned.

      Acknowledging that this installment has genuine merit means that critics have been forced to overcome all instincts to declare otherwise.

      That, or maybe they’ve simply run out of repeating the same critiques. They’ve passed through the other side, and its now become a Kitsch parody of itself, and can finally be enjoyed without excuse, self-loathing, or enormous amounts of weed.

      Maybe the formula has been so endlessly re-cycled by this point that its like “8-times-distilled Vodka”. The purest essence of …. burnouts and bitch-slapping and bad one-liners.

      1. “Not just “white trash”…but trash of all-races. “Its a Small World After All”-celebration of low-brow, plastic-spoilered, kicker thumping, neon-underlighted, steroid-using and shitty-tribal-tattoo having small-dicked America at its most obnoxiously over-cologned.”

        One of the greatest comments I have ever had the privilege to bear witness to.

          1. I have seen exactly none of the F&F movies.

            If other people enjoy them, that’s wonderful. By Sturgeon’s Law, there are crappy movies made in genres I like, and maybe I cut them some slack because I like the subject matter. It sounds like the Fast flicks may be ‘carsploitation movies for those who don’t like carsploitation movies.” If so, I commend them.

            Kevin R

      2. This comment wins the internet for today…
        But can I still go see it after lots of weed? I mean, if that was how I enjoyed them originally?

      3. I was sick of the ideal of tattooed motorhead idiots and fake tan bimbos before these movies came out. Car chases were as stupid as they were gratuitous in the 1980’s when the special effects were ridiculous because of the number of identical cars they trashed instead of the goofy CGI.

    2. I saw an article in CNN celebrating the ethnic diversity of the movie and the stars of this movie in particular as if this was something special and planned from the beginning rather than something that just happened. When this movie franchise started all the stars needed a hit, and were smart enough to recognize a franchise.

      I will say this, from what I hear all the stars seem fairly normal, relatively speaking.

  7. I enjoy reading your reviews because you write well, but please have a little respect for your audience. I had to stop half way through because you (unnecessarily) gave away three sight gags. Now if I go see this movie I’ll be waiting for them and their impact will be decreased if not destroyed. I want a review, not a synopsis. Spoilers, even little details, rob the director of the surprises and nuances he works so hard to create

    1. There are car chases too.

      1. CGI chases. No cars were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

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  10. when vin and rock are your tough you got problems

    1. tough guys

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  12. ‘and long-ago buddy Lucas (Sean Boswell, returning from the third film, Tokyo Drift).’

    Sean Boswell is the character, Lucas Black is the actor.

  13. Furious 7 is the lateset movie of Fast and Furious .paul walker will never show in the movie and people will never see him driving cars . however .this movie is still interesting and exciting.cool cars are everywhere in it .

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