The Hype: Furious 7

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Gunnar Bio PicIt could have been a result of the cheap movie-theater pizza I was struggling to digest throughout the screening or a product of the ringing and raging in my psyche from two and a half hours of mind-numbing explosions and vroom-vrooms, but as I stumbled out of my seat and beyond the shellshock, I began to wonder if maybe the “seven” in Furious 7 is more than just a mere indication that this uber-machismo, adrenaline-fueled, NOS-guzzling dumpster fire is the seventh entry of the increasingly bloated Furious franchise. Maybe the number represents something intrinsically hidden inside this film, some mysterious Da Vinci Code for people who still wear Affliction shirts. Maybe…

diesel furious 7Maybe it stands for the amount of sub-plots stuffed awkwardly between a Bayesque buffet of mindless explosions and cringe-worthy dialogue. Maybe it stands for the amount of times Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) grumbles his way through sentimental clichés so vapid they would send Bazooka Joe into face-palming seizures (“grrrIdon’thavefriendsgrumblemumbleIgotfamilygrumblegrowl”). Maybe it stands for the amount of gin and tonics Michelle Rodriguez sounds like she’s swilled every time her Letty character stumbles inconsequentially in and out of frame… and really who could blame her when your lines include things like “Hello Kitty’s awake” and “Touchdown, baby!”? Or maybe it stands for the amount of lines they’re giving Mia (Jordana Brewster) these days, presumably because the humanity she encapsulated fourteen long years ago serves no purpose in a world where people are flexing casts off their broken bones in preparation for the next fight sequence; maybe it’s a reference to the amount of times basic scientific concepts like ‘physics’ were thrown out the driver’s side window; maybe it represents the response time, in minutes, it takes for law enforcement to realize a helicopter and fighter drone are spewing missiles across large swathes of downtown Los Angeles.

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The Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, presumably.

But perhaps I am looking far too deep into the vehicular void. Like its cars, the storylines in Furious 7 are carelessly thrown around as often as possible, in the hopes that one of them might land tire-side down. Jason Statham does his best with the perennially scowling Deckard Shaw (Statham), who is “somethingsomethingMI6whatever” and the brother of Fast and Furious 6’s Owen Shaw; thankfully, he and Tyrese Gibson (who plays the deftly comical Roman Pearce) decided not to leave their A-game in the trunks of their souped-up dragsters. Letty struggles with her amnesia as much as Rodriguez struggles with her annunciation, though not nearly as much as Dominic Torretto struggles to keep his pecs from exploding out of alarmingly skin-tight polyesters. Tony Jaa and Djimon Housou portray some kind of terrorists doing some kind of thing for some kind of reason, and while little else is known or worth knowing about their roles, it can be surmised from the way that fists and physics work to slowly unravel all of their plans that they are indeed the other bad guys in the film. This is all just a product of lazy writing, of course, but the ultimate example of sheer phoning-it-in on the part of frequent Furious scribe Chris Morgan goes to Kurt Russell’s character, a guy called “Mr. Nobody”, a “ghost” fighting “shadows” which, when all is said and done, basically means he is a “paper-thin plot device” to “make more things blow up.” He’s also a huge fan of “Belgian ale”, which is kind of like someone saying they get a real kick out of “Italian noodles.”

spaghetti imageIn case you are wondering, my favorite topping on “Italian noodles” is “sauce”.

In an industry ruled by paint-by-the-number action flicks and an unhealthy predilection for massive third-act annihilation, Furious 7 is the Golden Calf. It is as gaudy, flashy, pandering, and as uninspired as a Chris Brown music video… and like a Chris Brown music video, it has become a phenomenal hit.

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And like Chris Brown, there’s even a damsel in distress involved!

In seventeen days, they’ve hit the Big Billion, an astounding achievement, and the release date for Furious 8 was announced faster than a skyscraper-hopping Lykan HyperSport. To be fair, there are just enough impressive stunts and whip-quick action sequences to save this movie from ride-or-dying straight off a fucking cliff, and the tribute to Paul Walker at the end is tastefully, some would say tearfully, handled. If you are expecting a couple hours of plotless action, this is your ticket to ride, but check your brain at the door. In Dominic Toretto’s words, “You might want to put on your helmet for this one.”

Rotten Tomato: 82%

Worldwide Box Office as of 4/25/2015: $1.228 billion

The Verdict: As shiny as chrome spinners and just as intelligent.