by George Wolf
So, I went to a car racing movie and the next Avengers broke out. And that’s okay.
After six installments of Fast & Furious, a savvy new director is smart enough to go all in and take number seven to the superhero playground that the previous installments were yearning for.
The entire premise puts the “donk” in redonkulous anyway, so why not go..ahem, full throttle? Remember, these are street racing criminals that have “won” their freedom and are now working for the Feds to take down drug lords and mercenaries. Up to now, the films were just too earnest about what they were shoveling. Credit director James Wan for a welcome “let’s just have fun and do some cool stunts” attitude.
Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious, Saw) lets you know this is a different sort of ride even before the first credits, with a fluid opening full of action and style. After that, we learn that ex-British black ops killing machine Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) has come to avenge his brother from part 6, which means Dominic (Vin Diesel) and his gang have to take Shaw out first.
That mission is sidetracked by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a covert intelligence honcho who offers Dominic a deal. Track down a hacker who has invented the world’s best surveillance program (“God’s Eye”!), and get the the full support of U.S. black ops in return.
Ooh, it’s on!
Turns out, though, the hacker gave her program to some guy in Dubai, so it’s off to the UAE so she can sport a bikini and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez’) can fight Ronda Rousey and Dom can fly a super car between two…check that…three skyscrapers!
Wan makes sure that stunt and many others, both car and fist related, look fantastic. In particular, the sequence with Brian (Paul Walker) escaping as a bus falls over cliff is likely to bring roars of gleeful approval.
Dwayne Johnson is still huge, Vin Diesel is still as wooden as his dialogue, and the plot is much more convoluted than necessary, bloating the film by at least thirty minutes. A faster Furious is a leaner, meaner, better Furious.
But there’s fun here. As the gang fights a terrorist and blows up half of downtown LA in the process, just think of these cars as Iron Man’s newest super suit, and go with it.