Cert 12a | ★★★★☆
Fast & Furious 7 – or as the Japanese call it, Wild Speed: Sky Mission – is quite possibly the dumbest movie of the year so far. But it’s also an absolute blast.
All the expected elements are here in furious abundance: cars, family, bromance, explosions, criminality, loyalty and cars. The plot is little more than an excuse for a series of giddily improbable stunts, which provoke a mixture of laughter and disbelief. But if anything this adds to the viewer’s enjoyment, creating its own heightened reality in which live actors grapple with the physics of a Road Runner cartoon. The homage to The Italian Job’s finale – bus teetering on a precipice – is a fantastic action sequence and entirely bonkers.
The growth of the Furious franchise from mildly diverting Point Break retread to unstoppable action juggernaut means there’s an increasingly deep bench of characters for the film-makers to wheel out. With a time-bending chronology, events in this film take place either side of the franchise’s third instalment, Tokyo Drift, and include a jarring appearance by that film’s protagonist, Sean Boswell, who is canonically 17 even though he’s now unmistakeably in his 30s.
It also introduces a host of exciting new characters, including Kurt Russell’s Obi-Wan-like international man of mystery Mr Nobody, and an attractive young hacker played by Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel, who ensures the role is more than an action movie cliché. It benefits, too, from amazing physical performers like Ong-Bak’s Tony Jaa, and Olympic judo medallist-turned-UFC champ Ronda Rousey, who really amp up the fight scenes.
The best new addition, though, is Jason Statham, the series’ first truly threatening antagonist. Gunning for Team Furious after they totalled his little brother in Fast & Furious 6, Deckard Shaw is a rogue assassin who immediately establishes his threat by putting the Rock in hospital and another member of the team in the ground, giving Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto a reciprocal drive for vengeance. With any luck (and if she gets her way), we can look forward to Helen Mirren appearing as the Shaw’s wrathful mother in Fast & Furious 8.
Production on the film was delayed, of course, by the sudden and unexpected death of Paul Walker, who starred as Brian O’Conner. But through a combination of re-writes, digital wizardry and using his brothers as stand-ins, they were able to complete the movie almost seamlessly, and it closes with a farewell to his character that’s clearly also a tribute to Walker.
It’s not a film for everyone – it objectifies women, fetishises cars, has questionable taste in music and a cameo from Iggy Azalea – but if you want to switch off and watch everything explode, Fast & Furious 7 will blow you away.