Furious 7 - Fast and Furious

Film review of Furious 7 along with additional parts of our video editorial presentation, ten in all.  

The entire 10-part editorial presentation will be featured in large screen HQ format at the official site of West Coast Midnight Run, your destination for variety entertainment and food for thought revues, combining the qualities you like most from glamour magazines with the art gallery and art house coffee book formats.

The additional editorial pieces of our Furious 7 presentation will be added in the weeks ahead at the official site of the publication.  In the meantime you can enjoy our video editorial and film review of Fast and Furious 6 (click on the small stamp for the video editorial preview) and Need for Speed.

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Film Review of Furious 7

It's been such a busy year and the events that led to the passing of Paul Walker had become so intertwined with the premiere of this chapter of the Fast and Furious saga, I did some prep work by scanning what the buzz is at the fan channels, their rantings on Paul and how come he is so central to the series when in reality it is a team ensemble adventure much like the X-Men and The Avengers.

Rather than wallow in all of the editorials from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times and People Magazine to the National Enquirer, I sat down and watched the very first movie of The Fast and Furious before screening Furious 7.

It became evident how come Mr. Walker is such a pivotal and leading character in the series, and how come fans of the genre would become so attached to his personna and role.  He plays a cop with a heart, one who has not been on the beat long enough to be part of a "bent" police force Detective Gordon describes in The Dark Knight series.

He gives the bad guy a huge and much needed break at the end of the movie, since the bad guy wasnt really all that bad, and in the process becomes the most beloved character of the series and one the fans root for all the time.  He is the fish out of water onboard the FF  team, the only one who is really not from the same neighborhood as the others.

Vin Diesel is the tough stoic almost unbeatable character of the movie series, in the first few installments there was character growth for him into the leader of the group, but third or fourth film down, he had been transformed into a mythical He-Man almost like Hobbs and there was really no where to go with the character - possibly the reason why the producers and writers brought Dwayne Johnson onboard.  So Vin could ease out from the "Super Man" role he grew into, which only helped further cement Paul Walker's bigger appeal as he struggled to fit in with the group.  Brian's character had more drama, humor and grounded character growth in each of the series' installments than Dominic.

Thus it would be understandable that when the most popular actor of a long running and highly profitable series has a tragic and fatal accident, the fan base was galvanized.  The public sentiment from the fans and movie going public alone more than tripled the advertising and publicity wattage for Furious 7.  Some scoundrels might say this is exactly the shot in the arm a long running series that's beginning to creak from lack of creativity or originality needed and would have its prayers answered in the tragic, and gruesome death of its biggest star.

Furious 7  is really Part Two of Furious 6, the action is hot right from the start and it picks up almost directly following the closing events of its previous movie.  

With Furious 7  the trend and overall feel of this series has become cemented as a global crew that are working alongside the government, and smacks of a blue collar Mission Impossible team from East Los Angeles and the suburbs of El Monte.  But the film is lensed in international and sometimes incredibly beautiful and exotic locales replete with gadgets, international evil guys and all the components and parts you would find in a James Bond movie.  

The writers though are wary not to stray too far from their fan base and the roots of the show that made it hugely popular and all of this is evident in Furious 7.

Brian, Vin, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Hobbs are back in top form and better than ever.  The banter and wit is top notch especially Roman getting toasted by his closest pal Tej.  The only thing missing was Mia (Jordana Brewster), she is in several crucial scenes but it feels as if she was left out from the central adventure as was the case in Furious 6.

The adventure and high nitrous oxide scenes are more spectacular than ever, up to the point where two or three of them cross the line of believability even for a series custom-tuned for eye popping stunts.  Minus a little bit of adrenaline on overeager cinematographers and CGI teams and this one could have left the audience dazzled and panting for more.

For illustrative purposes let's say reality is the ground at sea level?  Some of the stunts/action sequences were in orbit ... around Jupiter.

Alas I always leave the theater on these kind of big budget productions wondering how could the film consultants and continuity managers have missed glaring glitches when reviewing the dailies and when finally assembling all the scenes in post production.

Some of the big problems in this film could have been remedied when it was time for the CGI crew to step in, in the editing room and with a second unit to re-shoot a handful of bad scenes.  Perhaps the viewer never realizes how many different elements are being juggled into putting this kind of movie together.  We can only view the final polished product and ponder the jarring nonsensical scenes when they jump at you.

I will take an example of one scene in particular, no mystery since it was part of all the publicity excerpts released to the press.  The scene where Brian is running on the side of a long bus sliding towards the abyss and then jumps to land on the spoiler of a careening car driven to do a last minute save.

Never mind how impossible it is for the driver to judge the distance the car has to careen in a close shave of the cliff to allow Brian to make the catch, we will dispense with this bit as believable and the incredible talent of a driver born to be a driver since the age of five.  Fast and Furious is all about Natural Born Drivers.  That's part of the charm of this movie and the world it has created.  The impossible to swallow part is the amount of distance that Brian jumps off a bus carrying a negative moment of inertia opposite his forward sprint and it is slanted at an almost 35 to 45 degrees.  Most athletes of Olympic stature with a pole vault need a running distance on a flat surface and can vault themselves 15 to 20 feet max before tumbling down.  Whereas Brian is running on an unstable grade surface sliding against him and when he jumps (in reality most people might be able to clear three to four feet of distance) he propels himself with enough energy to span 20 or 25 yards or more.  It's an incredible piece of science fiction that belongs with Spock and his Jet Pack boots catching Kirk falling from his rock climb in Yosemite Park.  But the producers obviously wanted the audience to clutch or writhe in their seats as they wonder if this is the scene in which Brian bids adieu to his teammates.

The suspense is overcooked AND WASTED since audiences worldwide had already viewed the press excerpts months ago with Brian safely making a touchdown.

Furious 7's continuity issues we wont enumerate since they would involve ruining the movie to our readers.  We will allow other reviewers of national and international prominence to do the honors to their readers.

Suffice it to say I enjoyed this movie no more than any of the previous chapters of Fast and Furious and hence a sense of disappointment because this one could have been a whole lot better.  The death of Paul Walker forced the studio to take a break and extensively review the storyline to decide how to edit and compose the scenes in which Brian had already been filmed.  The studio took unprecedented steps in trying to rescue this movie and they could have done a far better job than the final product presently on the big screen.  Vin Diesel was dreaming of an Oscar for this film, for the memory of Paul and for his teammates.  I think the entire team of writers and producers need to take it a wee bit slower and carefully evaluate the merits of the next script for Furious 8.

This one is a guaranteed success, it's paid for with Paul Walker and Roger Rodas' blood, the next episode may not have such heroes to keep their teammates racing in front of the cameras so they may entertain audiences worldwide with tired formulas and science-fiction grade spectacular stunts.

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