Furious 7

Even if you have to wear a disguise, overcome your doubt and see this surprisingly fine film. Most of you will leave saying, “Who would have thought?”

Furious 7Somehow, someway, the Fast and Furious films improve with age. This is particularly true of Furious 7, where the moving tribute paid to the late Paul Walker at the end of the film will leave many of you dabbing your eyes. Who would have thought that could ever happen in a Vin Diesel film?

Despite a ridiculous plot, the special effects are at times dazzling, and the effect is similar to riding Disney’s Space Mountain after getting stoned. (That analogy is based upon speculation, not personal experience.) The movie leaves you on the functional equivalent of an adrenaline-laced roller coaster, and the whole blasted experience is, to coin a phrase, FUN!

To begin with, there is good reason why Furious 7 set a box office record on its opening weekend in April. This is a racially diverse cast which attracts a cross-section of the American public. Joining our crew of heroes and villains are four African Americans (Tyrese Gibson, Ludicris, Dwayne Johnson and Djimon Hounsou), one Hispanic woman (Michelle Rodriguez) and one Brit (Jason Statham).

And then there is Mr. Diesel, who may be the most likeable actor in Hollywood despite a limited speaking range that barely rises above his memorable role in last year’s spectacular hit Guardians of the Galaxy.  When has a leading actor been called upon to say little more than, “I am Groot”.

Ironically, Mr. Statham provides the heart and soul of this film, here playing the vicious villain known as Deckard Shaw. He seeks to personally kill our team of racing junkies for what they did to his brother, and he once again demonstrates the enormous talent he displayed in such earlier films as The Transporter (2002), The Italian Job (2003), The Bank Job (2008) and Parker (2013).

On top of that, Ludicris and Mr. Gibson are monstrously funny, and their interplay demonstrates the great talent displayed by script writers Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson. And if you doubt that Michelle Rodriguez is the most beautiful ass kicker in Hollywood (with apologies to Zoe Saldana), then take a look at her memorable performance in Avatar (2009). As for Mr. Hounsou, he has repeatedly won your heart in such powerful films as Blood Diamond (2006), In America (2002), Gladiator (2000) and the unforgettable Amistad (1997),

Finally, nearly everyone knows that the film had to be significantly redone following the tragic death of Mr. Walker. Ironically dying in a car accident that resembled moments in this film, He is replaced in many scenes by his brothers Caleb and Cody.  As noted, the movie ends with a very powerful tribute to Mr. Walker, and you have to resist the urge to join the cast as they say a soulful goodbye.