Furious Seven

The Fast and Furious franchise has always driven right up to the edge of sappy sentimentality -- amidst all of the trash talk and body slamming -- without going over the cliff. This time? Over the cliff it goes but it's understandable. When franchise co-star Paul Walker died in a car wreck near the end of the 2013, the future of Furious Seven (much less the film series) was cast in doubt. Director James Wan has crafted an enjoyable and reliably frantic edition piecing together what remained of Walker's scenes with post-production magic but leaving, one senses, a vacuum among the cast members. Co-star Vin Diesel (a close friend of Walker's) offers a genuinely touching moment at the film's ending, reflecting on the men's friendship and adventures. It's a nice coda to all of the usual jetsetting, high-speed, ballistic action that consumes most of the movie's 2-plus hours. The story, as negligible as they generally are, has occasional outlaws Dom (Diesel) and Brian (Walker) enlisted by federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to hunt down the murderously vengeful Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a mission that has the guys' road crew (Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Bridges and Tyrese Gibson) tearing up asphalt and throwing fists first in Azerbaijan then the UAE then back in Los Angeles. It's all wildly ludicrous (pun intended), brainless and enormously entertaining. Recommended.


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