By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team of “gear heads” are back! This latest installment of the Fast & Furious franchise has a new director at the helm.  Regardless of this personnel change, the new leader doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, director James Wan with the help of an amazing crew including editors Leigh Folsom Boyd, Dylan Highsmith, Kirk M. Morri, and Christian Wagner, Furious 7 takes the action to a whole new level.  For two hours and seventeen minutes, audiences will experience a wild, adrenaline-fueled ride which will leave them breathless.  

After the events of Fast & Furious 6 and the events of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Toretto and his family are targeted for revenge by Owen Shaw’s (Luke Evans) brother Deckard (Jason Statham).  At the end of Furious 6, Deckard had already succeeded in killing Han (Sung Kang) and has his sights on the rest of the gang.  When an unidentified secret agent (Kurt Russell) makes Toretto and family an offer they can’t refuse in exchange for the means to hunt Deckard, Toretto, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Ludacris), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) do what they do best.

Now, I”m not about to try and sell this movie as an excellent example of intelligent writing. To be fair, the comedic elements are sharply written, but the story and plot elements are more or less excuses to set up the insane action sequences.  Thrilling and exciting just does not do these amazing sequences the justice they deserve. The action scenes in the movie are some of the finest examples of stunt work and movie magic committed to film.  I often sat slack-jawed and wide eyed as these amazing scenes played out on the big screen.

James Wan, who is well know for his horror films, proves himself as an action director and very worthy successor to Justin Lin who directed the previous four movies and has managed to revitalize a series that almost fell apart several years ago. There have been hints of a possible eighth installment in the series, and I would love to see Wan do another if it does go into production.

Part of me wishes that the series ends with this installment because I cannot imagine a Fast & Furious movie without Paul Walker.  Walker, who was tragically killed in an unrelated motor vehicle accident, will definitely be missed.  His character brings a warmer and kinder personality to Toretto’s hardcore masculinity.  I do not wish for anyone to replace Walker in the Brian O’Conner role either, because he definitely defines that character with his charisma and personality.

This film is a bittersweet last film for Walker.  As fun and exhilarating as the action is the nods and acknowledgements in the film to Walker’s departure definitely serve as a reality check.  Without spoiling too much for interested people, I will say that the filmmakers and the cast pay a beautiful tribute to their fallen star at the end of the film.  As I discussed it with a friend after the conclusion of the film I couldn’t help, but get choked up a little.  Still, while watching him kick major  ass in some of the spectacular scenes made me happy.

I feel that fans of the franchise will absolutely love this new installment of the series. It brings back nearly all of the favorite characters of the saga and introduces some fun new ones. I must say Jason Statham makes for a wickedly bad villain. This movie is a must see at the theater, because the astonishing action scenes need to be experienced on a large screen with a loud extraordinary sound system.  This movie left me with an adrenalgasm and I’m sure it will have that same effect on almost all of its audiences.



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