* out of ****
Furious 7, the seventh installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, is a bombastic, overwrought car-crash-action-thriller that exists only for background noise. These is no story, the revenge plot is irrelevant and the characters are paper-thin. It's just a crumpled together collection of jittery action scenes that could quite possibly inflict a person with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Ex-Special Forces assassin (Jason Statham staring intensely) seeks revenge on Fast & Furious (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) for killing his brother. In the first movie, Diesel and pals were illegal street racers but now they are like Special Ops, and a government man (Kurt Russell) recruits them to acquire a super-duper tracking device and also rescue the hottest computer hacker ever (Nathalie Emmanuel). Dwayne Johnson's CIA agent gets beaten up by Statham (yeah, right) and barely survives an explosion early in the film and is out of commission for most of the 137-minute running time. In the big finale, “The Rock” does miraculously recover, tears off his arm cast and goes back into action. It's like a McBain scene from The Simpsons.
It seems every character is indestructible. No matter if the car they are in rolls over 15 times or falls off a cliff, they walk away with nary a scratch. I know this is only a movie but it constantly, and ridiculously, defies the laws of gravity and believability. In one scene, Diesel drives a car through a skyscraper window and flies across and smashes though another, then to a third skyscraper, crashing into that building where an art exhibit is going on. Needless to say, lots of priceless art is destroyed when the car plows into them because, you know, the destruction of art is funny. The good guys then jump out of the car just as the vehicle crashes through another window and plummets to the ground below, where, thankfully, there are no innocent pedestrians. Then there is the scene with cars parachuting into enemy territory which is, well, stupid.
There is a poignancy to Furious 7, however. Actor Paul Walker died tragically while this movie was still in production. He did not finish filming all of his scenes, and it shows. The character bookends the film, and Walker's brothers, Caleb and Cody, doubled for Paul in some of the action, but mostly the character remains in the background of the few scenes he's in. It is sad that this movie had to be Walker's swansong because he was a capable actor but never got the roles that showed his full potential.