The following contains spoilers for Furious 7. You have been warned.
Tyler: There is a lot of weight built into Furious 7 given that it’s the last movie for the late Paul Walker. We’ll definitely get into that but I want to start with the film itself. What did you think, and more specifically, did Furious 7 deliver on your expectations based on the last three movies in the series since it changed direction?
Rachel: Furious 7 was an emotional experience for me in more ways than one. As you said, one way was in the fact that this was Walker’s final film, and another was with the new and elevated stunts. I’m not a big action-buff; however, the action scenes and stunt scenes in this film really blew me away (especially the skydiving scene). While Furious 7 won’t be my favorite in the series – that is reserved for Fast Five - I did thoroughly enjoy it, minus a few plot and character flubs that I’ll get to later. What are your thoughts?
Tyler: I think we agree as to where the movie stands with the recent three in the series. It was amazing to see the film turn up the stunts to 11 after we have seen a safe dragged through Rio and a cargo plane pulled down on what had to be a 27+ mile-long runway. One thing that also stuck out to me in the stunts is that rather than build up to the most ridiculous sequence for the finale, it’s relatively (emphasis on that last word) grounded compared to the parachuting cars and the “flying” supercar. I really enjoyed this movie and other than the absurdity of the crew having to track down the “God’s Eye” software before they could face Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), I didn’t find as many plot holes as past entries. It would have been nice if they found a way to better incorporate the need for O’Connor (Walker) to move on from a life of crime without having Walker to shoot the scenes but that’s my only real gripe. That and a noticeable lack of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Rachel: I agree, there weren’t really any plot holes. I thought the writers did a great job in blending and mending the timelines of all the different movies. When I say that I mostly mean the oddly placed Tokyo Drift storyline, as well as the incorporation of Dom and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) nuptials that also hint toward Vin Diesel’s short film Los Bandoleros, which told the story of Dom and Letty during the time that Diesel was absent from the series. What bothered me about the plot though was that I felt that there was a bit too much going on. From Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody character trying to take “God’s Eye” from the second villain Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), to the complete tone switches in both Abu Dahbi and Los Angeles, all while the crew are both dodging and creating attacks with Deckard, it got to be a bit much for me in the end. Particularly in the Abu Dahbi portion, the plot felt a bit fabricated just for the end result of the skyscraper stunt, Letty’s badass moment in an evening gown, and the series’ love for sending the characters all around the world.
Tyler: I agree that they didn’t flesh out the villains enough in this one, at least compared to Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in the previous movie. It’s a shame because Statham and Hounsou are the two best actors the series has had playing the villains. I still prefer Owen Shaw in Furious 6 over Statham and Hounsou, which was surprising since Statham was one of the main reasons I was NOS’d up for this one. Touching on the Tokyo sequence, I really wished they showed the race between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). Also, it was a drift race that he won with his iconic Charger, which would be very hard to do.
Rachel: I was also very excited for Statham. I was disappointed, however, with his character’s grenade-throwing gag. I thought it cheapened him as a villain, although it did lead to the epic “street” battle between him and Dom.
Tyler: Definitely. I liked that the final fight between them highlighted their different strengths, Deckard relying a bit more on his speed while Dom used brute force. I want to shift gears (pun not intended) to the performances. We have spent time with all these characters together 2for three movies now and given the material, there isn’t much nuance expected. Were there any performances that stuck out to you? Which ones?
Rachel: I found it hard while watching the movie to sit there and judge their performances. I completely see the actors as their characters at this point. One aspect of performances and characters that I really enjoyed was the incorporation of Tyrese Gibson’s Roman and Ludacris’ Tej. I never really felt an attachment to these characters in the past films, but the writers really paid attention to their characters in this one, and gave them a lot more interesting material as well as comedy that actually had me laughing.
Tyler: Agreed. I was surprised that I actually found some of Tyrese’s lines funny in this one after he’s had some terrible lines in the past two movies (“What’s that? A hockey puck?” comes to mind from 6). I also find it funny that once Tej became the team’s hacker, he became “Caesar-cut Ludacris.” I thought Michelle Rodriguez continued to be the stand-out supporting player. Maybe it’s because she has the most complex story of the bunch but I thought she was great. I also really liked Russell here if only because he’s Kurt Russell and I’m excited for him to become the team’s Nick Fury in future installments though I will be disappointed if that means fewer scenes with Hobbs.
Rachel: I have always kind of felt that Rodriguez is the strongest actor in the series, complex storyline aside. She kind of held up the female contingent of the series since Jordana Brewster’s Mia was always limited. Gal Gadot (Gisele) and Elsa Pataky (Elena) both did credible work in the series, but the focus has largely been on Rodriguez, and she has handled it well. That being said, I did love the addition of Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and the writers’ ability to give her a dynamic character while throwing her into a large and developed cast.
Tyler: Agreed, though with exception to Rodriguez, it seems that they are cutting down on the team’s female contingent with Elena only having brief appearances at the beginning here, Gisel dying in the previous movie (though I suppose it’s possible for her to come back) and Mia presumably moving to fully domestic life with Brian. I would like to see Emmanuel come back but I’m unsure if she will only because the actresses that typically stay in the franchise don’t get a T’n’A shot as she did here. Maybe they can bring back Eva Mendes who is probably the series’ most underused character. I think we can move on though to unfortunate issue this film had with Walker’s passing and the final 15 minutes or so that was dedicated to him. How do you think the film handled this?
Rachel: I was actually very grateful as a fan that they didn’t kill off Brian. Throughout every scene Walker was in, I was a bit scared he was going to die. The character arc of him fearing the commitment of domesticity and fatherhood was a little overblown and out-of-the-blue to me, but I understood that they had to smooth out his departure as best they could. That storyline was pretty understandable on Mia’s side, though, since she has emphasized from the very first film that she didn’t want to be a part of her brother’s life of crime, and was always there holding their family together. The happy ending for them, however, was extremely satisfying for me. The last maybe 20 minutes of the film, which I believe was mostly CGI for Walker, was very impressive. It looked real and sounded real, and even had some people (that I’ve spoken to about it) completely fooled. The montage and last send-off “race” between Brian and Dom were well placed as well to give that character (and audiences) closure.
Tyler: I figured they weren’t going to kill Brian in this one mainly because it would have been in poor taste if the character died in a car-related accident. I had also seen the “Brothers” TV Spot and figured some of that was taken from the ending. I’m also glad though, that they didn’t Walker’s passing to increase the stakes of an “almost-death” scene. The movie actually did a good job of making me put that in the back of my mind during the movie, not letting it overshadow everything. I thought the sequence was well done and since Five, the characters have talked about “leaving the life behind,” especially for Brian who was an expecting father in Five, a father in 6 and expecting a second child here. Honestly, I think they would have sent off Brian in some way regardless of real-life events. I was definitely moved by the end montage though and will likely be more so when I see this again.
Rachel: I understand what you mean there, especially with each film’s threat – spoken or unspoken – that this would be the last job. I wonder in terms of the continuance of the franchise, whether or not they will abandon that sentiment or if it will almost be like a running joke.
Tyler: This was almost the last of a quadrilogy. There aren’t really any threads left to come back from the last four movies. No one is ripe to come back from the dead and there aren’t any villain’s family members to be looking for vengeance. If I were to make a guess for the inevitable Furious 8, it would be that Mr. Nobody would come to them with a job similar to what Hobbs did in 6. This team is pretty much a superhero team akin to The Avengers, at this point. Again, though, I want there to be more Hobbs.
Rachel: I think that is a pretty valid idea there. I do think that they would definitely need to have almost a second rebooting in some aspects of the series now that Walker is gone and they will have to introduce new and exciting dynamics for fans. Some of the reasons this franchise continues to do well and attract an audience – besides the amazing stunts and action sequences – have been its dedication to representing different cultures, in terms of ethnic diversity and setting, as well as representing cult car enthusiasts, and a form of action open to different genders (speaking of, I would love to see some gay characters in the future films). For myself, I feel almost as if I grew up with these movies (I was ten when the first one came out) and I have been a fan from the very beginning. For this reason, I will most likely continue to support and be excited for these films. It may have biased my viewing and critique of Furious 7, but that is probably the case for most of the audience, and is the reason we’re all lining up.
Tyler: Absolutely. If anything this series is reminder of how wrong so many films get the “dumb” action movie. I can’t wait to see what they do next.