Furious 7 races past historical records

Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Saying goodbye to an old friend can sometimes be as simple as parting ways at a fork in the road.

Paul Walker, who starred in six of seven The Fast and the Furious movies, was killed in a high-speed car accident in November 2013, and the initial shock at the news of his death gave way to the realization Furious 7 would have to address it.

According to Variety, just over half of Walker’s scenes for the movie were completed at the time of his death. Unseen footage was used, and new scenes were filmed using Walker’s brothers with his face digitally placed on their bodies in order to finish the movie. 

The Fast and the Furious franchise began in 2001 as a movie that followed an undercover cop’s attempts to combat crime in the fast-paced world of Los Angeles street racing. The series has since gone full-throttle toward unbelievable heists and espionage involving outrageously over-the-top action sequences.

Several movies into the franchise, the central team seemed to slip into a realm that offered immunity from death by car accidents, intense fights and countless other traumas.

Overlooking the awkward writing in favor of embracing a gathering of misfits and their exhilarating, laugh-out-loud adventures became easier. The franchise had found its mainstream audience and box office success.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Furious 7 set a new record with its debut, grossing $200 million in eight days, faster than any film in Universal Pictures history. The film exceeded the $239 million North American gross of Furious 6 in 10 days.

In Furious 7, Walker plays Brian O’Conner, a family man with a need for speed whose wife, Mia, (Jordana Brewster) is the sister of his partner in crime, Dom (Vin Diesel). The movie picks up where Furious 6 left off, and the group is assembled again. Skilled fighter Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), team comedian Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and tech guru Tej (Ludacris) take on a new set of challenges in a way only they can. 

They must face villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who seeks revenge against the group for killing his brother. The crew must also deal with his partner, Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), who abducted a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) in order to gain access to her surveillance technology, God’s Eye, which has the unique ability to locate anyone around the world.

The strategy to rescue Ramsey includes dropping the team out of a plane in their cars in order to gain access to a remote Azerbaijan highway. They speed off to the streets (and skies) of Abu Dhabi, and finally they find themselves playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Any one of these scenes could reasonably have been the focus of the film, but all three created something absolutely absurd.

The plot was at times too disorganized, but the film is still a commendable endeavor. The franchise’s creators developed an understanding when it comes to figuring out exactly what the core fan base expects to see after almost 15 years of dedication to the films.

The movie’s few big confrontations with repetitive action sequences in between will not easily engage anyone who is not already devoted to the films. The film incorporates guest appearances, one-liners and unique camerawork anywhere possible, but that may not be enough to entertain newcomers.

Furious 7 produces the expected adventures and excitement, but Walker’s real fate played a part.

As the audience watches his character, Brian, it is clear even though Walker still exists during the film, his absence is already felt. It was a unique experience to watch a movie that has this much fun but also carries so much sadness.

The film runs about 20 minutes too long, and parts of the conversation are so cliché viewers may find themselves saying the lines under their breath before the actors. However, that doesn’t mean these largely drawn, fiercely loyal characters with their unfathomable vehicular and individual maneuvers aren’t extremely entertaining in this larger-than-life sequel.

And I mean really, once you’ve thrown the laws of physics out the front window, why not have fun with it?