Director James Wan Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, John Brotherton, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black, Ronda Rousey

The suspension of disbelief is a necessity when it comes to watching modern cinema. Entire worlds are created on the big screen where the impossible becomes possible. And while it may be tough the first time around once you’re familiar with the setting and connected with the characters that suspension comes naturally.

Some films pride themselves on testing your disbelief, and in some cases will market themselves around it. Case in point: Furious 7. If you thought things were out there in the previous films then get ready to suspend disbelief like never before because this film is unbelievable.

Unbelievably stupid, that is.

There’s only so much suspension one can take, eventually the tether snaps. Furious 7 never bothers with that, it just takes you for an incredibly stupid but wild and entertaining adventure. However, after seven outings it should come naturally so we can see what is quite a thrill ride of a film. But I couldn’t, it’s still unbelievable and because of that it costs the film dearly.

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Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), is out for revenge after his brother Owen (Luke Evans) copped a beating in Fast & Furious 6. He learns of their whereabouts from Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) computer and ensuring overblown fight leaves Hobbs in hospital. The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift takes place in between and we’re off.

The film shifts scenes more than these guys shift gears. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and inadvertently Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) are caught in an explosion care of Shaw. After the death of Han-Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) Dom is stopped from getting his revenge by the conveniently timed Frank Petty (Kurt Russell), who conveniently lets Shaw escape. He tasks them with saving a hacker across the world, I forget where, in exchange for Shaw, where the first insanely stupid action scene takes place.

The lead up to this sequence and the sequence itself are totally ruined because they stupidly put the whole thing in the trailer, so there’s no suspense. Despite the odds they save the target, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), then shift locations to Abu Dhabi, where everybody is amazingly gorgeous, all the women wear expensive dresses and bikinis, and where everybody parties non-stop. Sounds like a fair representation of Abu Dhabi to me.

The film goes through another over the top action sequence. At this point I had totally lost interest in what was going on and was more concerned with seeing how crazy things would get. The mission is to acquire some sort of hacking device, which of course means wrecking a rare super car, destroying everything and walking away without a care in the world.

They’re suddenly back home to face their enemies on familiar soil; Shaw and some evil group whose origins I don’t remember. They lead their foes on a cat-and-mouse chase in a very long action scene that features some of the most insanely stupid crap ever seen in this franchise. Each is given a different task but I had zoned out and at times had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. In the end they destroy half the city and save the day.

The group retires to a beach to weirdly observe Brian enjoying family life. The film then closes with a very touching goodbye, not just to Brian but Paul Walker himself. Dom and Brian drive side by side with a montage of clips from the series along with an emotional tribute narrated by Vin Diesel before Brian drives off into the sunset.

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I don’t mind films that push boundaries in terms of realism and I did enjoy Furious 7 but there is a limit to everything and as the film progressed I was groaning and cringing more and more. By the final act was shaking my head at how silly things had become.

Contributing to this is their superhuman resistance to injury. It reaches new heights in this latest outing as they survive explosions, head-on collisions, car wrecks, falls from great heights, intercepting missiles with an ambulance and punching dents in a cars. The only time one of them is truly in danger is void of all emotion; they’ve been impervious to damage so far, why should we believe one will die now? And while it does make for great entertainment something has to make way, and what’s missing is at the centre of the piece.

It’s hard to depict the bonds of friendship when you don’t develop the characters. Throughout Dom goes on about how much family means to him but he moves on from Han’s death instantly while the others never seem truly concerned about each others well-being; they nonchalantly ask each other if they’re ok and move on. There’s a small sub-plot involving Letty but it takes a back seat and the only time this theme takes centre stage is when they say goodbye to Paul Walker, which is about the actor and not the character.

This stems from the script, which is weak. It’s too long at over two hours, in some areas its a stock action film with standard structure and when it tries to be emotive it comes across as corny. But it does have some quality, such as the cinematography which clearly depicts the action scenes, and I have to acknowledge what it must have taken to continue in light of the circumstances. The strength of the cast, as well as Caleb and Cody Walker stepping as body doubles, must have been so hard. Not only that but the effects department and their use of CGI to create Brian was marvellous. Underneath it all this is where the real strength and heart lies, I just wish it hadn’t been buried under all the rubble of those action scenes.

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I’m well aware the F&F series is larger-than-life but it’s got to connect with the audience and if you’re not a huge fan of the series, like myself, you’re going to struggle with suspending disbelief. Unfortunately this has less to do with an appreciation for the series and more to do with the quality of work being produce, and in many ways it falls short.

But I can give the film-makers a Mulligan as they would have had a hard time making this work, and not just because of Walker’s death. Not many franchises run this long and by film number seven you’ve got to think way outside the box if you’re trying to outdo the previous six. In this regard Furious 7 really shot itself in the foot, but for what it’s worth there are aspects of this film worth noticing and it does try its hardest.

This film will be a success, but it won’t attract any new fans. It will appeal to those whose suspension of disbelief will come naturally, who have been with the series since day one and have ridden along with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, making them feel they’re apart of their friendship. From and outsiders perspective it’s a lucrative club this time around; the suspension of disbelief is only for family.

MRD 3 of 10

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