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SXSW Review: FURIOUS 7 Goes From Zero to Insanity in 60 Seconds

By this point the seemingly endless Fast and the Furious franchise has (d)evolved into sort of a self-referential, self-deprecating, and virtually insane series of live-action cartoons, which is a good thing indeed if you believe (as I do) that the first four chapters were dry, tiresome, and unintentionally stupid. Since Fast 5 hit the screen, the series has become more or less a dryly absurd comedy in which highly elaborate and legitimately entertaining action sequences do all they can to pound the laws of physics into submission. Furious 7 doesn’t just pound them; it practically obliterates them.

You know the drill by now: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and the late Paul Walker are back with the gang they’ve collected over the course of six previous movies, and this time around we’re taking the Die Hard 3 route, which means that our new head villain is the infuriated brother of a head villain who was thwarted in one of the earlier movies. So on one hand we have a suitably mean-spirited Jason Statham joining the fun as an especially tenacious nemesis, and on the other side we have an enjoyably simplistic plot that feels like little more than a scavenger hunt. The gang basically leaps all over the globe to collect a series of clues that will enable them to rescue a hacker, who holds the key to a computer file that…

You get the idea. It’s not exactly rocket science we’re dealing with in the Fast and the Furious franchise, and it’s the giddy abandon with which Part 7 drops all pretense of logic and simply focuses on the mayhem that makes it so much fun. And make no mistake: Furious 7 is one of the most mayhem-heavy movies you’ll ever see. In between its visually staggering yet physically impossible races, chases, rumbles, and explosions, this movie barely slows down long enough to deliver a single plot point or a character beat before diving head-first into yet another cliff dive, free fall, jaw smash, or car crash.

Basically, if you’re the sort of person who likes to nitpick about action sequences that could never happen in real life, this flick will give you enough to complain about for two full years. Conversely, if you’re willing to play along with some eye-popping nonsense that seems to enjoy treating the laws of physics as something more akin to guidelines, then you’re probably already a fan of this series and will be pleased to know that Furious 7 is easily the most maniacally entertaining chapter in the whole damn series. (Although Fast Five runs a close second.)


When Furious 7 isn’t leaping out of airplanes, falling off cliffs, racing down highways, or punching characters right in the face, it focuses on the now-familiar themes of family, loyalty, and the simple joy of somehow avoiding death after experiencing a car crash that would kill a normal person 15 times over. (Are Dom and his pals superheroes who just aren’t aware of it?) But just when one of the “talky scenes” threatens to wear out its welcome, we’re treated to another high-end action sequence involving numerous ill-fated vehicles.

Not only does Furious 7 feature a virtually endless array of kinetic spectacle, but it also closes with a big finale that contains more insane mayhem than most action films manage to offer across their complete running time. For his first entry in the series, director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) succeeds in his obvious goal of trying to make each action scene feel even nuttier than the one from eight minutes earlier. You may actually need a nap when the movie is finished.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that this movie features a pretty epic battle between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham — and that’s only the third or fourth best action sequence in the film! I’m not entirely sure what more you could ask from a contemporary American action movie. Much of this stuff is still pretty silly, but let’s accept what should be completely obvious by now: the filmmakers are well aware of how silly this franchise has become. They’re more than happy to keep the good times rolling, just so long as they can keep finding new and amusing ways in which to drive cars irresponsibly and destroy buildings at will.

Plus we get Kurt Russell in this one, just as sort of a special bonus.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 burritos

4.5 burritos

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  1. Andy says:

    Thanks for not berating it like I have a feeling every other reviewer is going to do. You actually get the point of these movies. They’re supposed to be fun. But I hope they have some little tribute for Paul Walker in there.

  2. Nate says:

    It’s hard to imagine a more mainstream, mass popular culture, non-nerd-friendly media property than the Fast & the Furious series.  What is this web site even about any more?

    • Dan Casey says:

      Just because you don’t nerd out about this series, doesn’t mean other people don’t love it. They’ve essentially become superheroes.

    • Carlos says:

      I nerd out over cars and action movies. Just because I don’t know the entire sequence to Pi or write Dr. Who fan fiction doesn’t make me any less of a nerd than anyone else here.

    • MJB says:

      This is the exclusionist mentality that the nerd community can’t afford. We’re supposed to be a culture of inclusion, of appreciating everything we like, even if it’s mainstream or popular culture. Star Wars is hugely mainstream and pop-culture now, so is Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and Fire, and countless other things.

      Nerd culture is about LOVING MORE THINGS. I’ve always loved this franchise because it knows EXACTLY what it’s about. There’s no pretense to it. It does what it does masterfully, and it’s an enjoyable 100 minutes every time.