"Just when you didn't think it could get any better."
In my opinion few franchises have reinvigorated themselves at the halfway point, to go from being a bad excuse for an action film to being one of the most talked about and loved action films of this generation. Since Fast 5 they’ve really embraced their over the top stunts and plot that acts more as a filler, simply saying if you can’t beat them, join them. With Paul Walker’s death and the chronology of their own timeline catching up with them, the fate of the franchise could rest with number 7.
Following the death of Han at the end of the last instalment at the hands of a mysterious man (Jason Statham) Don Toretto and the rest of the team must be extra careful as they are recruited by a government officer (Kurt Russell) to rescue a kidnapped hacker who has created a revolutionary tracking device. This means that Don is now at liberty to take his own revenge.
Walker’s death presented a heart-breaking and daunting task for the entire team. It is a miracle that through a mix of stunt-doubles, siblings, CGI recreations and the small amount of footage that was already captured, he is here to give a final bow as his best known role. Even more amazingly, it isn’t distracting from the actual film, only a few very small shots and the most eagle eye viewers would be able to give away the fact that most of this film was shot without the actual man himself. It acts as an elegant tribute to him and a sign of his importance to so many people due to the effort they undertook to restore him.
As usual cars are defying gravity and flung from every possible angle, topped with what can only be described as mountains of muscular masculinity go hand to hand. It’s all very impressive and enjoyable to watch. There’s no catch to that statement either, it’s just great fun, the most fun I’ve had so far this year. That’s either a complement to the film or really sad for me I suppose.
The pace is up in every aspect and the result is not only a heart-pumping movie, but a consistent one. Rather than draw a clear line between fast cars and fast dialogue, James Wan ensures that everything runs at the exact speed that you want it to, and that speed is as fast as humanly possible, as it should be.
Mind you, there is time for some character development and humour. Vin Diesel’s Toretto and Michelle Rodriguez both continue their difficult relationship as she struggles to regain her memories. Statham, while arguably rather humourless for someone who always stands out to me as Turkish in Guy Ritchie’s acclaimed crime comedy Snatch, is perfectly cast as an utterly relentless villain and possibly the only person who genuinely feels as if he could go toe to toe with the Rock and Diesel.
The supporting cast all over laughs and action along the way, and that’s definitely needed. Almost on par with the way they must have felt on set, the three leads Statham, Johnson and Diesel offer grittier an more bittersweet performances than we’ve previously seen. Did I even mention Kurt Russell yet, let me just say that you could expect a real showstopper in Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight, hitting cinemas later this year. With a relatively small role he stands out as a charismatic and leading figure.
The story may be rather nonsensical, but what separates these from something like a Michael Bay film is that a waver thin plot it not dragged out for as long as humanly possible (seriously, Age of Extinction was the same length as Boyhood, one sentence of plot takes the same amount of time as twelve years, but I’m losing focus) they know how long to play the game and let you go with what must be one of the most unexpectedly beautiful sequences in recent cinema through a final, tearful farewell to Paul Walker.
Implausible stunts, thin plot and an almost comedic level of action, I love it.