‘Furious 7’ Revs Up Visual Intensity, Salutes Paul Walker

Photo courtesy of Tim Evans, Flickr Creative Commons

“Furious 7” is not the last of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, but somehow feels like it is the series’ final goodbye. The film consists of several homages and flashbacks to the 15-year history of the series. The set-pieces create new standards, being the largest and most insane of them all. However, the mood before the chase scenes is extremely mournful. Two of them take place in graveyards while the characters speak of their “one last ride” together. The film is a farewell in part, to series mainstay Paul Walker.

“Furious 7” is set a year after “Fast & Furious 6,” where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), ex-cop/best friend (Walker) and special agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), have taken down mercenary Shaw (Luke Evans) and the rest of his team. Dom is newly rejoined with his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who was assumed deceased years ago, while Brian and new wife Mia (Jordan Brewster) are getting used to being a family with their son Jack.

As the duo is getting back to a normal life, Shaw’s older brother Deckard Shaw, (Jason Statham), is out for blood, looking for Dom, as well as his family, who put his younger brother into a coma. In Tokyo, Shaw already killed Han (Sung Kang), sending a message to Brian, Dom, Tej (Chris Bridges aka Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson). Joining for what they hope will be the last time, the group of car enthusiasts will work as one in order to take down Shaw and keep their families safe.

Throughout the entire film, it is nearly impossible to watch these moments and not think about the tragic November 2013 car crash that took Walker’s life before the film was finished. Despite the fact that “Furious 7” brings the franchise’s necessary thrills, Walker’s real-life circumstances were at no time too distant from the surface.

Brian O’Connor (Walker) had scenes dangling from the edges of cliffs and wrecked buses, reminding audiences of his tragic death. One also could not help but notice certain camera cuts around Walker’s face in scenes that were obviously done after his death. Even though the character still exists, the truancy for Walker is very much present, leaving a sad feeling throughout a movie that should be fun.

The catchphrase “Ride or Die” was suggested to stop at the ride part and skip the rest in the wake of Walker’s death. Instead of the series’ legendary barbaric car crashes and chases, “Furious 7” opted for harsh collisions that characters survived and walked away from. This decision could have easily not went over well, but for the most part it felt right and fitting because this film sends Walker off. Moreover it shows the characters in the film can do what real life people cannot.

The visuals for “Furious 7” do not miss a step. By the ending scene, director James Wan is balancing four interconnected lines of lateral action with skill and precision that most filmmakers simply do not have. Despite the choices made in the need to keep Walker’s character alive in the film, this could be the most well edited and best looking Fast & Furious to date.