Just about every movie franchise eventually jumps the shark. Except The Fast and the Furious. Jumping the shark is a large part of this series’ appeal: how can the latest film top the eyeball-rattling car stunts and action sequences from the previous installment?
Furious 7 revels in that challenge and drives for 140 minutes with the gas pedal nailed to the floor. Vin Diesel and his close-knit band of outlaw motorheads are targeted by the vengeful brother (Jason Statham) of the villain who got in their way in 2013’s Fast & Furious 6. There’s also a terrorist (Djimon Honsou) who covets the ultimate Google-like tracking device, and a mysterious government spook (Kurt Russell) who recruits the gang to do his dirtywork for him. But this isn’t a franchise that hinges on story—though Furious 7 sure does cram in a ton of unnecessarily complex plot. “No one forks over 10 bucks to see one of these flicks for its logic,” explains EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “We go for the bananas demolition-derby mayhem. Furious 7 delivers that with the direct visceral rush of an EpiPen. For two hours and change, we’re treated to a high-octane orgy of some of the most exhilarating stunts ever put on film.”
Furious 7‘s themes of family and loyalty took on an unfortunate new meaning with the vehicular death of Paul Walker, who died in a non-film related car accident in November 2013, before production was complete. With the aid of Walker’s two brothers, old footage, and CGI, however, director James Wan and Universal pieced together a film that aims to honor him and his character. No spoilers here, but there might be some tough-guy tears in your theater.
Read Nashawaty’s entire review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.
Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“We have officially entered the baroque stage of the Fast & Furious franchise. It’s no longer enough that the films’ fleet of tricked-out, turbo-boosted muscle cars drive really, really fast. Now they also have to fly. In the numbingly bonkers Furious 7, cars parachute out of cargo planes, jump from one skyscraper to another, and sail through the air to intercept helicopters. At this rate, the next chapter will have to take place in outer space. Fast & Furious: Venusian Drift. So how’s the movie? Well, it’s both awesome and ridiculous.”
Joe Williams (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“By now, the pressure to top the previous movies has popped the hot-air from this franchise. The grunted catch-phrases, the implausible escapes, the plot holes the size of the Bonneville Salt Flats—it’s all pitched at a particular audience like a dog whistle that fully grown humans can’t hear. If you don’t crave the taste of motor oil on your popcorn, Furious 7 can’t end fast enough.”
Richard Corliss (TIME) ▲
“7 meets the demanding standards of the two previous entries, the crazy-great Fast Five (2011) and its amped-up, purified sequel Furious 6 (2013), while providing a tender onscreen farewell for the fallen Walker. It’s an enormous, steroidal blast, and as much ingenious fun as a blockbuster can be.”
Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)
“Between the various villains and multiple agendas, Furious’ two-plus hours of metal-twisting and bone-crunching occasionally feels a little long. But every time you’re about to say ‘Enough already,’ it shifts gears.”
Jen Chaney (Washington Post)
“Yes, the whole movie feels overstuffed and overlong, and the non-action scenes are often dragged down by stilted dialogue. But Furious 7 buzzes with a frenetic energy so contagious, there’s no sense in resisting it. Like its predecessors, this film has no shame about being its high-octane, gloriously ridiculous self.”
Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Director James Wan doesn’t have quite the flair of Justin Lin, who helmed four of the Furious films, but Wan leads the league in pure, um, guts, when it comes to daring us not to laugh at the sheer insanity of staging elaborate auto stunts not only on city streets and on perilous roads high in the mountains, but in high-rise penthouses and at altitudes of 20,000 feet.”
Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)
“Wan seems to have taken some crash courses at the Michael Bay University of Filmmaking, where you never do anything for real when you can fake it with computers and where no idea is deemed to be too much as long as the special-effects crew can put it up on the screen. Realism is for documentaries and stuff. This is a popcorn movie, man! It’s supposed to be stupid, right?”
A.O. Scott (New York Times)
“There is much too much plot in any case, and a little too much heavy weaponry for my taste. Like Dom, I prefer fisticuffs and car chases to apocalyptic computer-generated explosions, but I must admit that some of the digital stunts hit the sweet spot of wacky, oh-no-they-didn’t sublimity.”
Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
“The action comes so fast and furious in Furious 7 that, for all the explosions and overturned cars and missiles fired on downtown Los Angeles, it becomes a dull muddle. Here and there, we get the imaginative and outrageous stunts this series is famous for, but mostly the movie plods along, muscling through without much life or spirit.
John DeFore (Hollywood Reporter)
“Any moviegoer who didn’t know about the untimely death of Paul Walker would never guess it had occurred during production of Furious 7, a film that (whatever massive efforts were required to work around his absence) is as stupendously stupid and stupidly diverting as it could have hoped to be had everything gone as planned.”
Scott Foundas (Variety)
“Although there are moments—especially during a climactic foot-and-car chase on the streets of downtown Los Angeles—where Walker (or his avatar) is conspicuously filmed from behind or with his face obscured, for most of the time Walker is onscreen (which is quite often), it’s nigh impossible to tell whether he is fully real or partly virtual. We are not so far here from the once-absurd suggestion that it might some day be possible to make a brand new-movie ‘starring’ Humphrey Bogart or Marilyn Monroe.”
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 66
Rotten Tomatoes: 82 percent
Length: 140 minutes
Director: James Wan
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson