Sunday, 5 April 2015

Fast & Furious 7

In the context of Fast & Furious 7, Han (Sung Kang)'s immolation in Furious 6's post-credit stinger - itself a holdover from the otherwise rootless The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift - becomes a rough shift. Furious 7 isn't the film Jason Statham's sudden, violent appearance seemed to anticipate. He's not an imported action slasher here to downsize Dominic Toretto's extended family, instead he's a perpetual annoyance in the Wile E Coyote mode.

Whether James Wan and Chris Morgan's sequel was always meant to be like this isn't clear. Perhaps everyone just lost their taste for brutality after Paul Walker passed away? Furious 7 doesn't even attempt to be apocalyptic. It's celebratory, safe even. Danger is subverted at every turn by last minute rescues, zero injury and a CG aesthetic that reads as intentionally cartoonish. Furious 7 is reassuring. We don't dwell on harm, everyone is immediately dusted off and dressed up for the next encounter. It's a dream of invincibility.

In Furious 7's last moments Vin Diesel transcends the Toretto character to speak directly to the audience about Paul Walker. It's brilliant and silly, a genuinely touching epitaph from a man who fills his Facebook full of schmaltzy image macros. Wan honours Walker by hinting at an untapped potential for close-quarters desperation. The director pairs his departed star with Tony Jaa's elbows and knees for recurring fisticuffs. Their brief dust-ups are the film's best angles, full of energy and, most importantly, invention. Obviously Walker can't match Jaa's Kinamotay assaults, but he does look good soaking up the damage.

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