Somehow, they made it a heptalogy, all without ever once using a word on screen with that many syllables.
Somehow, it became The Most Important Movie in the World.
And, somehow, “Furious 7” is entirely enjoyable.
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“Furious 7,” rated PG-13
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 137 minutes
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.
After their latest adventures, Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker) and their associates are back to their normal lives, but day-to-day activities aren’t the most exciting for seasoned auto racers who have lent their services to international affairs.
It turns out they aren’t out of the game, yet, though, when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the elder brother of their former enemy, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), makes it his mission to avenge his sibling through any means necessary, drawing blood and intending to do more and boasting a résumé as a highly trained member of British special forces.
Dom’s approach to protect his people only results in Shaw upping his efforts, but another option may be available when in steps Frank Petty (Kurt Russell) a well-connected specialist in covert affairs. Petty is willing to offer his services if Dom’s crew will do a small favor for him by obtaining some dangerous technology from a terrorist mercenary (Djimon Hounsou), which means it’s back in the driver’s seat to save the world once again.
If Diesel is tiring of the character that’s brought him fame and fortune, he sure doesn’t act like it, tapping into Dom’s familial nature more than ever. It probably seems even more personal this time, with Walker’s untimely death in 2013 pushing the release date back a year and changing the dynamic of much of the film. The late actor’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, fill in for him with digital imaging in a lot of scenes.
That tinge of sadness can be felt throughout the cast with Brian’s wife, Mia (Jordanna Brewster), wishing he’d get out of his perilous way of life, and buddies Roman Pearce and Tej Parker (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) wondering if they can live without looking over their shoulders after the demise of one of their comrades (Sung Kang) at the hands of Shaw, played with standard psychotic fervor by Statham.
Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson’s Agent Luke Hobbs is sidelined early on after a massive fight with the villain, but don’t worry — The Rock is ready for round two.
There’s no time — or need — to think too much about any of the plot developments, whether it’s the gang air-dropping cars into the mountains of Eurasia; the lingering amnesia of Dom’s lover, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez); Shaw’s scorched earth tactics and near-omnipresence wherever they go; or the likelihood that a surveillance program — known as “God’s Eye” and capable of locating anyone in the world — could exist.
Of course, the six films before this should have clued you in to that detail.
As far as stunt-driven popcorn entertainment, you can’t get much better than this, no matter how hard it is to swallow the majority of death-defying sequences. It’s the elegy for Walker that makes or breaks it, though, a tone of melancholia in what was originally heralded as the most fun, thrilling series conclusion of all time.
Maybe they can’t live up to that hype, but as far as a swan song, it’s tough to imagine Walker wanting it any other way.
We’ll see if there’s any gas left in the tank after “Furious 7,” because you know Hollywood won’t let it stop here. And, if you feel you can top a guy running along the side of bus as it plunges off a cliff, you might as well go for it.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.