(Photo: Scott Garfield, Universal Pictures)
Furious 7 is a high-octane thriller that might be the best in the entire franchise. It’s also an installment that successfully fulfills Paul Walker’s legacy. Imagine being in a car aboard a C-130 plane waiting to drive off the back, then free-falling about 130 feet until you open your parachute. Suddenly your car lands on a road and you speed up to catch the bus. If this is a scenario that entices your daredevil psyche, then Furious 7 is for you.
The film, which opens today, was originally supposed to release in the summer of 2014. This was before the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker. Walker passed away in late-2013 from injuries suffered during a single-car accident. Universal Studios decided to postpone production to allow cast members to grieve. During this time, the filmmakers were able to rewrite the script. In the December following Walker’s death, Vin Diesel posted on Facebook the film would be released in April of 2015.
Production continued with actors resembling Walker (including Walker’s own brothers Cory and Caleb) being brought in to finish the film. Walker had filmed approximately 85 percent of his scenes prior to his passing. Returning cast members include Diesel, Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Lucas Black, and Jason Statham . New cast members to the franchise are Kurt Russell, Ronda Rousey, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, and Nathalie Emmanuel.
Furious 7 picks up following the end of Furious 6 with Jason Statham’s character, Deckard Shaw, killing Han due to the death of his brother, Owen. After catching word of Han’s death, Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) decides to avenge Han by going after Deckard before he takes them all out. The film also sees the return of Sean Boswell and Twinkie (portrayed by Lucas Black and Shad ‘Bow Wow’ Moss respectively) from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Furious 7 has even more death-defying stunts than the previous films in the franchise. Besides the aforementioned scene involving cars driving out of a C-130, there is a scene with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor running up the side of a bus, sliding off a cliff, and jumping onto the bumper of a car drifting along the edge of the mountainous heights.
The filmmakers behind Furious 7 do an excellent job of ‘retiring’ Walker’s character through the use of computer-generated imagery. They used stand-ins while filming the scenes Walker had yet to complete. The film will cause the audience to be proud as Dominic gives Brian what he wants in the end. The computer-generated Paul Walker in the last scene is quite obvious to viewers who have scene other films in the franchise. The final scene, however, brings the entire franchise to a close with a fitting song generating emotions from the audience as the film transitions into credits.
Furious 7 is the best film in the entire franchise. The film keeps Paul Walker’s legacy alive. It brings the franchise to a close for now, but Vin Diesel has said in numerous interviews that a potential eighth film should be taking place in New York. Overall, Furious 7 is an edge-of-your-seat thriller featuring great car chases, crashes, exotic locations, and a talented cast full of superstar qualities.