Americans of course have a love affair with the car. Not too surprising since we helped invent them. So, its also not too surprising that they love movies where the cars are the real stars, ranging from cartoons like the animated Pixar film ‘Cars’ to the seven Fast and Furious films. You don’t go to such films expecting Shakespearean quality acting or lines. You expect fast cars, races, car stunts, and if the movie also aspires to be a thriller of sorts, you expect shoot em up bang bang. The Fast and Furious franchise has delivered on those expectations in spades, and raked in billions along the way. It has turned very ordinary actors into household names, like Vin Diesel (what better name for a man in a car movie), or Paul Walker (RIP). And lest you make the mistake of coming to such a film with expectations about realism, I would remind you that the moniker of one of the best actors in the series is named ‘Ludacris’. As the Italian mobsters would say ‘forget about it’, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Increasingly the films in this series have emphasized the theme of family (apparently the family that thrills and spills and kills together, stays together), but the family in question is team Furious, not a physical family or the family of faith. In short, these are ‘band of brothers and sisters’ sorts of movies.In F+F 7, apparently the end of the line for this series due to the death of Paul Walker, ironically in an ordinary car crash in 2013, once again we have not much of a plot or a dialogue, but rather action, action, action, violence, violence, violence, and chase, chase, chase. Like the Bond films globe trotting gives us sometime to look at in the travelogue department— this time in Abu Dhabi, and supposedly in one of the countries that ends in -istan. But as I said, the real stars are the cars, and this movie does have one of the best car stunts ever filmed (see the trailer above), not to mention cars jumping between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. There are so many points in these movie where credulity is stretched past the break point– fights that go on too long, long after someone should have been mangled or unconscious, or dead, car chases down mountains that should have ended minutes earlier, daring escapes from buildings, burning cars etc. You get the picture. You don’t go to these films expecting verisimilitude, you just go along for the ride.
This closing chapter is not the best of the series. That would be Fast 5 set in Rio, but this one has a few entertaining moments. It is odd however that a summer popcorn movie would show up in April. This movie is not for the faint of heart, or for those with pacemakers, or for small children, or for those who don’t like endless car chases and shooting.
It is frankly too violent to take children to see, but sadly there were lots in the theater on opening day. Perhaps the final irony is, that for a film and a series that so emphasizes at least one sort of family, these movies aren’t really family friendly. They are instead cheap thrills for bored adults.