Movie Review: Furious 7 provides lots of action yet falls short

Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) prepares to make a a giant leap off his car. (Photo/Business Week)

Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) prepares to make a a giant leap off his car. (Universal)

“Furious 7” is the latest film in a franchise that, like a gear shift, has had its ups, downs and the occasional sideways. But the latest entry in the series becomes an intriguing but far from perfect race from start to finish.

Taking place directly after “Fast and Furious 6,” the film follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his entourage while engage in a tour of heists to stop Decker Shaw (Jason Statham), the brother of the previous film’s villain.

Despite a slow moving start it’s not long until viewers get to the first of many action sequences: a fight between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. That begins the first of many sequences that are masterpieces of enjoyable chaos. The car duel in the Caucasus Mountains alone is a concerto of blissful destruction.

The level of effort put into the film’s action scenes sadly takes more priority over the story which support them, taking proverbial back seat for the most part. Many parts feel very underwritten and incomplete like the romantic subplot between Torreto and Leticia Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez).

Character development is also minimal with logic and complexity kept to a minimum. All of this is done in an effort to pander to audiences who are looking for an enjoyable film that doesn’t require much thinking. The film doesn’t do anything to break new ground in the action genre.

Many of the actors do their utmost to make up for the story’s shortfalls with some acceptable to at times excellent acting. Veteran actor Kurt Russell for instance puts in very enjoyable and laid-back performance. Vin Diesel is also again able to carry the show clocking in yet another rugged performance with great physical work to boot.

In contrast, the comic acting of Ludacris and Tyrese Williams is groan worthy much of the time. There’s also a cameo by Iggy Azalea as a racer. Needless to say it’s a blessing her appearance is so short as her acting is atrocious.

But the one performance filmmakers have gone to especially great lengths to make memorable is Paul Walker. Just as the death of Brandon Lee during the filming of 1994’s “The Crow” resulted in filmmakers putting greater effort to make it better, the same is true of Furious 7.

The film benefits greatly from their efforts. The overall film, though still flawed and not groundbreaking, is a very competent and fun one.  The movie also becomes a terrific final bow for Walker and his character Brian ‘O Conner. Director James Wan and his crew are to be commended for making that happen.

Dominic Toretto, before the film’s final showdown, says he will be taking “one last ride.” Given Hollywood’s reluctance to give up on lucrative franchises, it’s unlikely “Furious 7” will be the last Fast and Furious film. It will, however, be a ride that’s going to be hard to beat in terms of fun and enjoyment.